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Warana Unwired - Microsoft Research - Turning Ideas into Reality

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  • Warana is a sugarcane cooperative which has a command area of about 70 villages. The cooperative’s primary job is to crush sugarcane and to produce sugar.   It turns out this was Asia’s first ICT project to bring computing to rural masses. I ended up spending a month living there. My work here started off as trying to understand how these computer kiosks are been used by the various stake holders. Unlike most other ICTD projects that come and go, warana was an exception because the project was still running after 8 years.  
  • Warana is a sugarcane cooperative which has a command area of about 70 villages. The cooperative’s primary job is to crush sugarcane and to produce sugar.   It turns out this was Asia’s first ICT project to bring computing to rural masses. I ended up spending a month living there. My work here started off as trying to understand how these computer kiosks are been used by the various stake holders. Unlike most other ICTD projects that come and go, warana was an exception because the project was still running after 8 years.  
  • 04/13/10 12:51 © 2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. This presentation is for informational purposes only. Microsoft makes no warranties, express or implied, in this summary. There is an SMS server that we wrote is running in the Phone which receives the SMS message and converts it into bunch of database calls and returns the result as an SMS and the farmer gets back the message.   The client phone is used for both accessing and updating their accounts. While mobile phones and SMS-based systems are very attractive platforms, one thing that makes them different from PC-based systems is that they are closed Platforms, in the sense that the applications and services are entirely controlled by carriers, and it is difficult for a small-time third party service provider to get in the act. We have shown through this work that it is possible (and indeed, easy) for anyone to start an SMS server.
  • The original goals of the project were to give   Internet access to farmers, Check market price information Agricultural expert system where they expected farmers to ask questions to a terminal and experts sitting at the other end answering these questions. Automate Land Records.
  • The original goals of the project were to give   Internet access to farmers, Check market price information Agricultural expert system where they expected farmers to ask questions to a terminal and experts sitting at the other end answering these questions. Automate Land Records.
  • The application that is lasting for the last 8 years is a sugarcane accounting application. Farmers get access to their own accounts through the kiosk, register their land with the cooperative, and buy fertilizer. They also use this to issue harvesting permits/dates on when the farmer’s plot is ripe for harvesting. This application was developed by the local cooperative personnel with the help of government of India’s official software unit (NIC). This application made sense as the farmers without these kiosks had to walk about 40 kms to get these transactions done and often used to result in lost income and huge lines in the cooperative
  • The application that is lasting for the last 8 years is a sugarcane accounting application. Farmers get access to their own accounts through the kiosk, register their land with the cooperative, and buy fertilizer. They also use this to issue harvesting permits/dates on when the farmer’s plot is ripe for harvesting. This application was developed by the local cooperative personnel with the help of government of India’s official software unit (NIC). This application made sense as the farmers without these kiosks had to walk about 40 kms to get these transactions done and often used to result in lost income and huge lines in the cooperative
  • The application that is lasting for the last 8 years is a sugarcane accounting application. Farmers get access to their own accounts through the kiosk, register their land with the cooperative, and buy fertilizer. They also use this to issue harvesting permits/dates on when the farmer’s plot is ripe for harvesting. This application was developed by the local cooperative personnel with the help of government of India’s official software unit (NIC). This application made sense as the farmers without these kiosks had to walk about 40 kms to get these transactions done and often used to result in lost income and huge lines in the cooperative
  • We have replaced an existing PC-based information-distribution system for a sugarcane cooperative with a much less expensive system based on mobile phones. Our hope is that we can apply similar systems to address other needs for information distribution in rural communities everywhere.
  • 04/13/10 12:51 © 2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. This presentation is for informational purposes only. Microsoft makes no warranties, express or implied, in this summary. There is an SMS server that we wrote is running in the Phone which receives the SMS message and converts it into bunch of database calls and returns the result as an SMS and the farmer gets back the message.   The client phone is used for both accessing and updating their accounts. While mobile phones and SMS-based systems are very attractive platforms, one thing that makes them different from PC-based systems is that they are closed Platforms, in the sense that the applications and services are entirely controlled by carriers, and it is difficult for a small-time third party service provider to get in the act. We have shown through this work that it is possible (and indeed, easy) for anyone to start an SMS server.
  • 04/13/10 12:51 © 2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. This presentation is for informational purposes only. Microsoft makes no warranties, express or implied, in this summary. There is an SMS server that we wrote is running in the Phone which receives the SMS message and converts it into bunch of database calls and returns the result as an SMS and the farmer gets back the message.   The client phone is used for both accessing and updating their accounts. While mobile phones and SMS-based systems are very attractive platforms, one thing that makes them different from PC-based systems is that they are closed Platforms, in the sense that the applications and services are entirely controlled by carriers, and it is difficult for a small-time third party service provider to get in the act. We have shown through this work that it is possible (and indeed, easy) for anyone to start an SMS server.
  • The farmers are now able to access it anytime and even in the night times by looking at our log data; it was unheard of in the previous situation to expect a kiosk to be open. We found the use truly mobile; they were using the system at odd places like the Tea stalls at the farmers fields. Number of accesses for data same as expected (10/village)   Telcos interest has perked up and this is a huge win for them as the number of SMS messages have significantly increased.
  • The application that is lasting for the last 8 years is a sugarcane accounting application. Farmers get access to their own accounts through the kiosk, register their land with the cooperative, and buy fertilizer. They also use this to issue harvesting permits/dates on when the farmer’s plot is ripe for harvesting. This application was developed by the local cooperative personnel with the help of government of India’s official software unit (NIC). This application made sense as the farmers without these kiosks had to walk about 40 kms to get these transactions done and often used to result in lost income and huge lines in the cooperative
  • The farmers are now able to access it anytime and even in the night times by looking at our log data; it was unheard of in the previous situation to expect a kiosk to be open. We found the use truly mobile; they were using the system at odd places like the Tea stalls at the farmers fields. Number of accesses for data same as expected (10/village)   Telcos interest has perked up and this is a huge win for them as the number of SMS messages have significantly increased.
  • The farmers are now able to access it anytime and even in the night times by looking at our log data; it was unheard of in the previous situation to expect a kiosk to be open. We found the use truly mobile; they were using the system at odd places like the Tea stalls at the farmers fields. Number of accesses for data same as expected (10/village)   Telcos interest has perked up and this is a huge win for them as the number of SMS messages have significantly increased.

Transcript

  • 1. Warana Unwired Kentaro Toyama Assistant Managing Director Microsoft Research India Based on work with Rajesh Veeraraghavan TCS Excellence in Computer Science January 9, 2008 – Pune, India With an Examination of Rural PC Kiosks
  • 2. People
    • Lead Researcher
      • Rajesh Veeraraghavan
    • Collaborators
      • Kentaro Toyama
      • Ken Keniston (MIT)
      • Vibhore Goyal
      • Sean Blagsvedt
      • Nimmi Rangaswamy
    • Interns
      • Naga Yasodhar (Cognizant)
      • Renee Kuriyan (UC Berkeley)
      • Savita Bailur (London School of Economics)
    Rajesh visiting a farmer’s family in Warana Photo: Rajesh Veeraraghavan
  • 3. Outline: Warana Unwired
    • Rural PC Kiosks
    • Warana Background
    • Initial Ethnography
    • The Intervention
    • Results
    • Discussion
  • 4. Outline: Warana Unwired
    • Rural PC Kiosks
    • Warana Background
    • Initial Ethnography
    • The Intervention
    • Results
    • Discussion
  • 5. Rural Kiosks
    • Definition (for the purposes of this presentation):
      • Rural center with PC as the focus of services
      • Typically run as a small enterprise
      • Socio-economic improvement as a goal
    Photo: Kentaro Toyama ITC e-Choupal kiosk in Kodia, Madhya Pradesh
  • 6. Rural Kiosks A “bouquet of services” to generate value and revenue
  • 7.
    • Data sources:
      • Extensive kiosk surveys
        • 300 kiosks, 1 year so far, 4 times each, 5 customers, 1 operator per kiosk
      • Ethnographic studies
        • Longitudinal kiosk life-cycle
      • In-depth interviews with kiosk agencies
        • At least six organizations
      • Over 30 site visits in India and Africa
      • Discussions with third-party observers
      • Literature in journals, books, web sites, whitepapers
    Methodology
  • 8.
    • Projects examined:
      • n-Logue (Tamil Nadu)
      • Drishtee (North India)
      • ITC e-choupal (Madhya Pradesh)
      • TARAhaat (Uttar Pradesh)
      • MSSRF (Pondicherry)
      • Dhan / SARI (Tamil Nadu)
      • Akshaya (Kerala)
      • World Corps (Andhra Pradesh)
      • Bhoomi / Comat (Karnataka)
      • Rural e-Seva (Andhra Pradesh)
      • Warana WDV (Maharashtra)
      • Datamation (Delhi)
      • Etc.
    Methodology
  • 9. Kiosk Business a Challenge Srinivasan, Janaki (2004) The Effects of e-Governance Implementation on Women: A Study of the Sustainable Access in Rural India (SARI) Project, Madurai. Masters Thesis, Indian Institute of Information Technology. Kiosk in Tamil Nadu Rural kiosk in Tamil Nadu
  • 10. Kiosk Business a Challenge 12-year-old boy taking typing lessons in Retawadi, Maharashtra Vigyan Ashram monthly report (Nov 2004) Photo: Kentaro Toyama
  • 11. Kiosk Business a Challenge Proud father of printshop and kiosk owner in Sirsa, Haryana Private e-mail communication Photo: Kentaro Toyama
  • 12. Sustainability is nearly impossible! Various published articles
  • 13. Difficult to Break Even Dhawan, Vivek (2004) Critical Success Factors for Rural ICT Projects in India, Masters Thesis, IIT-Bombay
  • 14. Even surviving kiosks are supported by other business Microsoft kiosk survey (2005)
  • 15. Outline: Warana Unwired
    • Rural PC Kiosks
    • Warana Background
    • Initial Ethnography
    • The Intervention
    • Results
    • Discussion
  • 16.
    • Over 60% of population earn living through agriculture
    • Mostly small and marginal farmers with 1-3 acres of land
    • Typical income of <$2 per day
    Agriculture in India Photos: Rajesh Veeraraghavan
  • 17.
    • Warana, Maharashtra, is a subdistrict of Kolhapur (second wealthiest rural district in India)
    • Sugarcane cooperatives and refineries
    • first one in 1959
    • now numbering 25
    Warana Nagar Warana is within Kolhapur district, Maharashtra Tatyasaheb Kore (1914-1994)
  • 18.
    • Warana’s main cooperative:
      • 75 villages
      • 50000 farmers
      • 25,000km 2
    • 1998: Asia’s first project
    • to “Bridge the Digital Divide”
    • 54 PC kiosks in 54 villages
    • Cost: Rs.2.5 crores (US$625,000)
      • 50% central gov’t
      • 40% state gov’t
      • 10% cooperative
    “ Warana Wired Village Project” Warana sugarcane processing plant
  • 19. Factory FTP FTP FTP PC Warana Farmer DB Standard PC network Weigh stations Landline phone PC enabled Kiosks “ Warana Wired Village Project” WWVP technical infrastructure
  • 20.
    • Bring Warana Nagar on NICNET [and Internet]
    • Create database of villagers on various socio-economic aspects
    • Provide Tele-education to both Primary and Higher Educational Institutes
    • Facilities such as remote health service (tele-medicine), public grievances and redressal will be provided through this booth
    • Provide following facilities:
    • - Computer based education
    • - Open University access (IGNOU)
    •  
    Original Goals of WWVP http:// www.mah.nic.in/warana/#About Wired Villages
  • 21. Outline: Warana Unwired
    • Rural PC Kiosks
    • Warana Background
    • Initial Ethnography
    • The Intervention
    • Results
    • Discussion
  • 22.
    • Summer, 2005: two months
    • Participant observation
    • Structured interviews
      • 200 farmers (users and non-users)
      • 15 kiosk operators
      • 3 cooperative leaders
      • 5 cooperative staff
    • Technical analysis
    • Survey
      • 47 kiosks
      • Self-reported usage statistics
      • Kiosk logging
    • One all-hands meeting of kiosk operators
    Ethnography and Data Collection Joint work with Ken Keniston Interviewing in the field
  • 23. Seven Years Later
    • PC network still active
    • Farmers visiting kiosks
    • General pride in system
  • 24.
    • Bring Warana Nagar on NICNET [and Internet]
    • Create database of villagers on various socio-economic aspects
    • Provide Tele-education to both Primary and Higher Educational Institutes
    • Facilities such as remote health service (tele-medicine), public grievances and redressal will be provided through this booth
    • Provide following facilities:
    • - Computer based education
    • - Open University access (IGNOU)
    •  
    Were goals being met?
  • 25. Why not…?
    • Technology
      • No local language interface
        • Plans to localize exceeded budget
      • Connectivity poor
        • Dial-up, no more than 10kbps
        • Round-trip time for data still two days
    • Infrastructural
      • Centers not designed for students, patients, etc.
    • Social / political / economic
      • Lack of budget to fulfill expectations
      • Farmers’ awareness of PC function limited
      • Farmers’ need for Internet/multimedia functionality limited
        • Interest in PC and Internet existed, however
      • Lack of training and qualified trainers
  • 26.
    • Internal account MIS:
    • Register land
    • Issue harvesting permits
    • Sell fertilizer through credit
    • Query quantity of sugarcane harvested
      • 10 times a year for farmer
      • Small matrix of numerical data
    Actual Use WWVP village PC kiosk
  • 27.
    • High maintenance cost
      • At any time, a few in disrepair
    • Intermittent power
    • Network flakey
      • Low-quality dial-up
    • PC not optimally used
    • Cooperative considering discontinuation of system
    Mounting Challenges PCs not in best condition
  • 28.
    • Can we preserve the functionality of the existing PC-based system while making the entire system cheaper and more effective?
    The Design Problem
  • 29. Outline: Warana Unwired
    • Rural PC Kiosks
    • Warana Background
    • Initial Ethnography
    • The Intervention
    • Results
    • Discussion
  • 30. Warana Unwired! SMS-enabled mobile phones PC-based kiosks Warana …
  • 31. Factory FTP FTP FTP PC Warana Farmer DB Standard PC network Weigh stations Landline phone PC-enabled kiosks Original PC-Based Set-Up
  • 32. Factory PC Warana Farmer DB Standard PC network Weigh stations SMS-enabled phones New Mobile-Based Set-Up SMS SMS SMS GSM/CDMA SMS network
  • 33. Pilot Experiment
    • Implementation
    • Begun October 2006
      • Naga spent 1.5 months at location
    • SMS Server implemented at processing center
      • Based on SMS Server Toolkit [Goyal and Blagsvedt]
    • 7 pilot villages and 7 kiosks
      • PC-based system left in place, but kiosk operators asked to use only if necessary
    • Under auspices of cooperative’s managing director
    • Involved IT manager at WWVP
    • Questions
    • Technical: Can SMS-based system be implemented in this environment?
    • Usability: Is SMS a viable medium for farmers?
    • Social: Will farmers transition to use? Inhibiting factors?
    • Financial: What are actual costs of system?
    • Other: Any adverse impacts?
  • 34. Outline: Warana Unwired
    • Rural PC Kiosks
    • Warana Background
    • Initial Ethnography
    • The Intervention
    • Results
    • Discussion
  • 35.
    • Software logs of…
      • SMS Server
      • Central database
    • Survey of kiosks
      • 7 pilot (mobile)
      • 7 non-pilot (PC)
    • Interviews with kiosk operators
    • Interviews with farmers
    Data Collected
  • 36. Implementation and Usage
    • System required one month of tweaking in field to customize.
    • Running continuously since October 2006.
      • 24-hour access
    • SMS Server requires reboot once a month.
    • 1238 unique farmer requests served in first three months.
      • Slightly more than expected number, based on statistics from PC-based system
    • 80% of requests are about sugarcane output.
    • Response time is generally on order of seconds.
    Results
  • 37. Current system Potential savings: 1 million Rupees per year, over 54 villages ($25,000) Costs Achievable with GPRS or with SMS discounts ($30,000 savings per year) Annual cost of PC system System Cost/Farmer/Year (INR) New PC System 394 SMS Mobile (kiosks) 159 SMS Mobile (without kiosks) 111 GPRS (no kiosks / SMS discount) 91
  • 38. Other Issues
    • Good
    • Advantage of mobiles
      • Mobility
      • Battery power
      • Fast, 24-hour access
      • Potential democratization of access
    • Bad
      • SMS not suitable for all queries or data
        • Land registration not implemented via SMS
      • Data-availability dependent on server
      • Minor error rates (3.2%) due to SMS unavailability
        • In all cases, a repeat query solved the problem.
      • Per-SMS cost accrues to farmer
  • 39.  
  • 40.
    • Farmer from Satve village (one of pilots)
    • Initial disbelief turns to excitement:
          • “ The information is exact and it is very good.”
    • Farmer from Angali village (not in pilot)
          •   “ I saw messages are coming on the mobile phone. There is no problem. So where is the question of success? Let us have it, also. ”
    Farmer Responses
  • 41. Outline: Warana Unwired
    • Rural PC Kiosks
    • Warana Background
    • Initial Ethnography
    • The Intervention
    • Results
    • Discussion
  • 42. Related Work
    • Rural kiosks
      • Heeks, 1999
      • Jhunjhunwala, 2000
      • Keniston, 2002
      • Roman, 2003
      • Pal et al., 2004
      • Kumar, 2004
      • Toyama et al., 2004
      • Nedevschi et al., 2005
      • Srinivasan, 2005
      • Kuriyan et al., 2006
      • Rajalekshmi, 2006
      • Ali and Bailur, 2007
      • Bailur, 2007
      • Etc.
    • ICT for agriculture
      • eSagu
      • e-Choupal
      • aAQUA
    • Advantage of mobile phones
      • Duncombe & Heeks, 1999
      • Donner, 2005
      • The Economist , 2005 (“The Real Digital Divide”)
      • Jensen, 2007
    • SMS-based solutions
      • Banks 2005
      • Goyal & Blagsvedt, 2005
    Veeraraghavan, R., N. Yasodhar, K. Toyama. Warana Unwired: Replacing PCs with Mobile Phones in a Rural Sugarcane Cooperative, in Proc. IEEE/ACM Int’l Conf on Information and Communication Technologies and Development ( ICTD2007 ), 2007.
  • 43.
    • To our knowledge, Warana Unwired is the first project to replace an existing ICT4D PC-based network with a mobile-based system.
    • Expensive many-PC system replaced with an affordable single-PC system
    • Is this development?
      • Minor impact on farmers’ lives ( e.g. , savings of $10 per year)
      • Cost savings to sugarcane cooperative ( e.g. , $25,000 per year)
    • Shouldn’t overstate case for mobile phones
    • Future work: Simple IT systems for agriculture cooperatives
    Discussion
  • 44. Thank you! http://research.microsoft.com/~rajeshv/warana.htm [email_address] ; [email_address] Photo: Rajesh Veeraraghavan