POKET: Platform for Self-Reported & Citizen-Generated Data
Short solution summary:
POKET is a smartphone-based solution for public health agencies, NGOs and researchers to deploy their own crowdsourcing engagements. The focus is on use-cases that can benefit from self-reported data, citizen-generated data, participatory mapping or community-driven insights. Organizations empower citizens with our app to enter data in exchange for rewards.
In what city, town, or region is your solution team based?Toronto, ON, Canada
Who is the Team Lead for your solution?
Kamil Shafiq: Co-founder & CEO of POKET
Which Challenge Area does your solution most closely address?Respond (Decrease transmission & spread), such as: Optimal preventive interventions & uptake maximization, Cutting through “infodemic” & enabling better response, Data-driven learnings for increased efficacy of interventions
What specific problem are you solving?
The general problem is that marginalized communities across the Global South are data- scarce - we know very little about these communities. This includes the make-up of public health systems (often informal), and also the perceptions and symptoms of citizens that comprise them. As an example, it is estimated that approximately 1 billion merchants still remain unmapped (CityLabs, 2015). The majority of these are informal merchants that exist in emerging countries like Nigeria. As an example, through our paid pilot in Lagos, we concluded that 65%+ of pharmacies, chemists and hospitals in Lagos are estimated to be unmapped and offline. The lack of this data troubles many stakeholders during times of crisis - from NGOs looking to better serve these communities, researchers trying to deploy interventions, and public sector agencies trying to deploy public services to improve livelihoods.
In addition to this, youth unemployment is at an all-time high, particularly since COVID-19 struck these communities. Although the human capital and access to technology (low-cost smartphones) for generating this data and mapping is rapidly becoming more accessible, there is no tool for citizens to generate data about themselves or their communities, and be rewarded for them in the process...until now!
Who does your solution serve, and what needs of theirs does it address?
1)Public Sector Organizations: Lack appropriate tools for citizens to keep government groups accountable for public services/infrastructure, mapping public assets (ex. healthcare outlets) or observations (ex. mask-wearing behaviour, lack of social distancing, etc) or self-reported (ex. tracking symptoms). We have been actively working on developing solutions around this group via the Utopia Urban Innovation Program, while we also negotiate contracts in several jurisdictions (under NDA).
2) International NGOs: Need high-frequency data at the local level around feedback on an intervention. They also want to empower their beneficiaries to self-report data, but lack appropriate tools. We launched our full solution in late 2020 and are already co-developing programs alongside major NGOs such as Oxfam, Save the Children, CARE, PATH, Americares, and BRAC to name a few.
3) Global Health Researchers: Struggle to get grassroots level, high-frequency, self-reported data and are keen to use this tool for new, granular primary data. We are currently co-developing / negotiating contracts with researchers in the University of Johannesburg, University of Ottawa, National University of Singapore, and Johns Hopkins to name a few. We were also selected by Berkley's CEGA / the World Bank to give a talk on our innovative approach to Global Health research.
What is your solution’s stage of development?Growth: An initiative, venture, or organisation with an established product, service, or business/policy model rolled out in one or, ideally, several contexts or communities, which is poised for further growth
Please select all the technologies currently used in your solution:
What “public good” does your solution provide?
Since academic researchers are a key client of our tool, we look forward to seeing their published research papers over the coming months. Outside of this, there are three key societal benefits / public goods we believe our platform provides to the public:
1. Data & Environment: The lack of real-time data around communities means that organizations have very little data to make informed decisions. With places unmapped, energy infrastructure unknown, and citizen perception/community a black box/mystery, this tool can shed tremendous colour in places that have otherwise remained a black box.
2. Economic impact on vulnerable populations: We believe that we can transform the smartphone into a vehicle for performing new forms of task-based data jobs across the Global South. POKET's innovation can create new forms of work / supplementary income for people, using just their smartphones, which people can do at their very own leisure! A key lever in addressing youth unemployment.
3. Community-building: This platform will build stronger relationships between citizens within a community and the organizations that serve them. Our platform acts as a connective tissue between community members to share, consumer and engage with one another, both remotely and in real-time!
How will your solution create tangible impact, and for whom?
Since we've built a software solution, its impact will largely be determinant based on our client's/partner's implementation. We believe there are 3 key tangible impacts:
a) the clear benefits for new, grassroots data being generated in data-scarce, marginalized communities. This will be measured by the amount of data generated per engagement
b) the cost savings that NGOs, public sector groups, researchers etc. will incur and pass on to beneficiaries. A common reaction that we have gotten is that these organizations were often planning to develop this type of tool internally, from scratch, which would often take 6-12 months and hundreds of thousands of dollars. We're offering a more robust, bespoke solution for about 70% less cost!
c) Incentivizing participants and citizens to provide data inputs will introduce a new form of remote work via POKET. It will allow citizens to enter data, at their leisure, and receive rewards. These can be in the form of mobile money, bank transfers, gift cards, cryptocurrency etc. As an example, in the engagement we referenced previously, citizens earned 2.7x the average daily wage of Nigeria by using POKET to enter data on places in their community, answer questions and earn with POKET!
How will you scale your impact over the next one year and the next three years?
One of the reasons we decided to launch POKET as a software platform was to maximize scalability. By providing a tool for organizations to empower the communities they work in, we are able to create a "rinse and repeat" model. Often, a few days are spent customizing the tool for a specific project/stakeholder, who then puts it in the hands of communities. Whether it be 10 citizens or 100,000 citizens, our platform is robust enough to handle citizen-generated data at scale, since the marginal cost of adding a user is minimal. All it takes is downloading an app in the Android play store, entering in a project code and the user is ready to enter data and receive rewards.
We've already started the process of connecting with organizations, mostly via outbound cold-email campaigns. We are also very fortunate to be members of the Trade Commissioner Service of Canada who have been instrumental to facilitating introductions across the world to prospective clients. However, cold-emails and COVID-related networking has truly been a struggle for our team - we are extremely excited by the opportunity of tapping into Trinity's network of partners who we believe will be very interested in our solution!
How are you measuring success against your impact goals?
Some KPIs we use are:
1) # of organizations/researchers who have deployed our solution in a community
2) # of community members/citizens who have used out solution to enter data
3) amount of $ that has been awarded to participants on a monthly/project basis via this incentivized approach to self-report data
4) amount and nature of data generated across different use-cases
Although we have mentioned some of these metrics and cited them against our Lagos pharma use-case referenced throughout this application, we are keen to share more outcomes once existing projects are completed and clear data is available, closer to Q3/Q4 2021.
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries do you plan to deploy your solution within the next 3 years?
What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and the next 3 years? How do you plan to overcome these barriers?
1. Budgetary Impacts of COVID-19: It’s hard to predict how the pandemic will change the behaviour and willingness to use our solution given that many governments and NGOs are going through tremendous struggles. They are trying to keep their own teams afloat, and may not be able to invest in innovation at this time. This is why we have actively been focused on generating new data that is specific to the pandemic and enabling new use- cases that will have both social and economic impact during and after COVID-19.
2. Market/Technology Growth Rate: Our solution heavily hinges on a massive uptick in smartphone penetration and internet access across the emerging world. Our ambition is to scale in conjunction with the internet growth curve across the world, which is a factor of ICT costs and hardware costs.
3. Financial Resources: We have a few months of runway and there is not the best time to be seeking new funding opportunities. We are actively participating in new pitch competitions, applying for grants, and working rigorously to find and close new engagements.
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What type of organisation is your solution team?For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models
List any organisations that you are formally affiliated with or working for
University of Toronto (Creative Destruction Lab)
Ryerson Social Venture Zone
Utopa Urban Innovation Group
Why are you applying to The Trinity Challenge?
The POKET team is working on a major global challenge that is very well aligned with Trinity's mandate for this competition: key infrastructure that will enable a better data-centric feedback loop for the current and next pandemic(s). There are two key challenges we are facing that would be complete game-changers for our team if we were to win the competition:
2) Funding that will give us the resources to build additional features of our product faster, and also reach more prospective users of our tools. We are used to working day and night, and will continue to do so, however any resources will go a very long way in helping us get more team members on board to help us achieve our mission.
3) Given that we are indefinitely confined to our bedrooms, we have been cold-emailing our way to decision-makers. Although we have had some success, it has been challenging without having conferences or traditional platforms where we can network/showcase our innovation. We are extremely excited by the network/founding members Trinity has, and hope that easier access to partner organizations across the globe will unlock opportunities that we otherwise would never have access to.
What organisations would you like to partner with, why, and how would you like to partner with them?
We are keen to connect with NGOs and academic research groups interested in deploying our tools. It just so happens that Trinity has many already in their networks such as Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, University of Cambridge, HKU Med, Tsinghua University, University of Melbourne, National University Singapore, Northeastern University, London School of Economics and Political Science, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Imperial College London, etc.
We have tried unsuccessfully cold-emailing many of these organizations in the past and know that a warm intro via Trinity would be incredibly productive for our team! Outside of this, we would also be keen to connect with foundations like the Patrick J McGovern who may be interested in supporting our work or certain projects being deployed around the world for data-scarce, marginalized communities. As mentioned previously, we are extremely excited by the network/founding members Trinity has, and hope that easier access to partner organizations across the globe will unlock opportunities that we otherwise would never have access to. We're extremely excited by this opportunity. It's a privilege to be in consideration for such an important initiative during a very turbulent time for our world - with your support, POKET can help!
- Kamil Shafiq Co-Founder and CEO, POKET