Nutrio – Final Project

In the last three classes before our final presentation at UNICEF HQ, we were really able to shape our idea and develop a potential product that we feel could be a useful asset for redistributors to help grocery stores, restaurants, homes deal with excess foods, and efficiently support charities and undernourished communities.

Three weeks ago, we

defined a problem statement: “The problem of inequality of food access affects people all over the world. How might we better redistribute wasted food from events, and local farms for low-income individuals in order to ensure access and education to healthy nutrition.”

created a systems diagram:


Developed a research plan: Our plan is to have contact with individuals from the CSA groups, soup kitchens and food redistribution sectors. We have reached out to the following groups and are trying to either have an face-to-face interview or a conversation on the phone:

Narrowed down our focus location:

We have decided to focus on tackling this problem in NYC and create a program that can be applied to other areas around the world.

We then wrote down a bunch of questions that were to use in our interviews:

  1. Could you explain your current process – what you do, how you do it?
  2. How many people do you reach? How do you determine who to reach?
  3. What type of food do you typically distribute? Is it sealed / opened / fresh? What factors determine what resources you receive, where you receive from, and who to distribute to?
  4. What’s working with your current food distribution plan? What are the a struggles?
  5. What’s your roadmap for the next year? Any challenges that are currently limiting expansion into other communities?
  6. How do you connect with the individuals in the community?
  7. How are the communities aware of your service?
  8. Do you collect feedback from the community about your service?
  9. What have we not brought up that we should have (only after explaining what we’re doing)
  10. Who else should we be talking to? Could you put us in touch with them.

We took all the information above and conducted many interviews to see if our idea would be helpful in the communities.  We also attended the following food strategy workshops:

  1. will attend)
  2.!event_id/156493/view/event/date/20170420 (Chris will attend)

Data Points:

We were asked to find some poignant data points to support our research:
Global food waste is a major problem. In two minutes:

  • 15,210 tonnes of food will be produced
  • 10,267 tonnes of food will be consumed
  • 4,943 tonnes of food will be wasted (that’s close to ONE-THIRD)

The average meal weighs 0.5 kg. ~5000 tonnes of wasted food could feed 10 Million people.

… losses incurred by food producers from this waste will exceed of $2.8 million USD globally by the time you reach the last line in this post. (Source: World Food Clock – we should fine their source(s) as well)


Global Undernourishment ~842,000,000 (12% of world population) (Source: World Food Clock – we should find their source(s) as well)

We estimate that the per capita food waste by consumers in Europe and North-America is

95-115 kg/year, while this figure in sub-Saharan Africa and South/Southeast Asia is only 6-11 kg/year. (source: FAO – dated study (2010-11))
In medium- and high-income countries food is to a significant extent wasted at the consumption stage, meaning that it is discarded even if it is still suitable for human consumption.

In low-income countries food is lost mostly during the early and middle stages of the food supply chain; much less food is wasted at the consumer level. (source: FAO – dated study (2010-11))


After some great conversations with people in the food industry, narrowed our problem statement down to: How might we streamline data access for food insecure communities between regions to reduce overall waste and improve nutrition?

And developed our proposal to be the following: An open ledger, that is platform diagnostic, of excess food within a region which individuals and organizations can contribute to and charities have access to appropriately disseminate the food within their communities.

We pitched this idea in class to our fellow classmates, teachers and guest critics with this initial deck.

We received some great feedback from this initial pitch and ultimately finalized our idea.

In the end we decided to propose a product called Nutrio ( Using emerging technology, blockchain, to track and properly redistribute excess food.

Here is the slide deck from our presentation at UNICEF HQ.

To sum it up, this project was a great exercise in design thinking, product development and execution.   I’m really happy to have been apart of this class and a team member on the Nutrio product.

Final Project: Research Stage

What is the Big Problem (i.e. Affects 1 b. People)

Illiteracy of farmers, lack of government regulation/help, lack of resources, lack of access of information, poor transportation, poor markets, and climate change (unpredictable weather).

We need smarter agricultural practices to feed an ever-growing population. The number of farmers is declining, and climate change is becoming an increasingly worrying challenge that farmers are not fully aware of.

What is the specific problem (So this affects 1b people… where is a specific concrete starting point where you see the need most)

  • India: Farmer suicides due to multiple factors (debt burden, monsoon failure). NOTE: most recent dataset is from 2015.
  • Illiterate farmers unaware of progress with understanding of crop rotation successes, drought resistant seeds, use of green manure, etc.
  • The empowerment and equality of women in developing nations. In Asia, women produce 60 percent of agricultural products, and in Africa that figure is 80 percent. However, these same women also are not given equal access to credit which could enable them to afford quality seeds, fertilizers, and water pumps, increasing their production and providing more food to their communities.
  • 2017 Famine crisis due to drought
    • Somalia — hasn’t seen rain in months
    • South Sudan — violence has displaced individuals from fertile land
    • Nigeria — violence and burning of villages leaves people unable to feed themselves

What’s a link between that and the environment you’re living (i.e. “Something closer to home”)

In the US, it’s relatively easier to find farmers who generally do trust technology and are willing to try out new techniques. They understand the growing need for better methods, and find a personal economic benefit to embracing technology.

What types of 100B$ technology *might* be able to impact this (broad stroke – think crazy)

  • In the case of farmer debt, the blockchain could be used to figure out how this money is spent to figure out what’s not working, and potentially educate the farmers accordingly. Automated farming is also a potential tech that could be used.
  • In the case of climate change, machine learning could be used to alert the farmers of the changing seasons.
  • Drone Technology. Having drones transport produce to market and facilitate communication/transfer of goods.

3-5 links of resources that you have researched that specifically speak to you about this problem

Farmer Suicide, AgTech, US Farmers, Indian Farmers, Illiteracy, Food Crisis


Week 7

I think that the idea of basic income is interesting and has shown positive results to the countries it was implemented in. However, I see a moral/ethical problem in the West using African countries as their guinea big for a psychological test. But then again this “experiment” did have many positive results so my stance wavers.

Other readings point out the power of documentation in proving the success rate of certain projects. I thought it was interesting how a method taught in the classroom has the same importance at a greater level.

Week 5

Facing global development’s fear of failure

I thought this article was really interesting in presenting its western point of view of success. Coming from the East, my culture regards failure as something one should be ashamed of. If one has failed, then they had to do whatever they can to put on a façade or the impression that they had succeeded. Coming to the US at a young age definitely gave me a culture shock when I saw how failure is celebrated rather than concealed. I definitely see why we do fail fares in class now. I think that putting an emphasis on how we can improve on our failures is much more realistic and beneficial than looking at the 20% success stories.


I appreciated reading about this specific ambitious project, the reasons of failure, and the steps they took to come up from it. I think this is definitely what people need to read more of rather than only reading about major failures without context or reasons. Having this documentation on hand helps me think about my own project in this class and how it is extremely important to test with the end user, which is in our case (a farmer in a developing country).

The PlayPump: What went wrong?

Things that went wrong with the PlayPump definitely reminded me of how they did not follow the basic innovation principles. I see that they violated the first principle, which is to design with the user. They seemed like they did not understand their context very well and designed with lofty expectations. Another principle they broke is principle 7: “reuse and improve”. They did not use existing infrastructure or frameworks and merely relied on the idea that children at play would simply pump the water. To me, that definitely represents an ethical question of what they were thinking when they released this…

PlayPump ultimately sounds to me like it was designed by the lofty 1% silicon valley that does not understand the lack of resources and technology available in these countries.

A Blurry Vision: Reconsidering the Failure of the One Laptop Per Child Initiative 

“Careful analysis about the culture and necessities of the children needs to be done in the countries before shipping the laptops. Laptops need to be customized to local traditions and customs, so that they are appropriate in their new context.”

This article perfectly points out my frustration with technology built in the West. Technology here is built only with a western mindset. There are very few research/HCI/psychology papers written about how to design technology for different cultures. This then has led the world into a cycle of globalization and americanization. There are already signs of people leaving their own culture in preference of American culture due to the insensitivities of this technology. It is not only a developing world problem but also a global issue that I even see happening in my country.

Week 4

The Death Of Charities: Bitcoin & Blockchain Technology To Replace Them?

I think Blockchain and Bitcoin can absolutely revolutionize the way we donate and help people in need and honestly feels like society is behind is terms of this type of technology. The Internet has already altered several aspects of our culture and behaviour. I believe that this idea should have been implemented a long time ago as transparency is people’s number one concern when donating. At the end of the day, visual communication speaks at much greater length than word or written text.

M-Pesa And The Rise Of The Global Mobile Money Market

I like the idea that these online or mobile transferring services has the potential/ability to cut down costs, become transparent, and even reduce corruption. It also aids the developing world in sounding far more technologically advanced than how the media portrays conditions there to be.

Is M-Pesa essentially Venmo? But a Venmo created for specifically businesses and entrepreneurs in Kenya?

From shore to plate: Tracking Tuna on the Blockchain

“consumers often make buying decisions based on perceived product, “brand” and price. In fact, 30% of UK consumers report that they are very concerned about environmental and social issues, but are struggling to translate this into purchases.”

I wonder how this technology’s transparency will change people’s consumer behaviour if they could see how their money directly impacts slavery or child abuse?

Currently, brand names and advertising control our capitalistic market but what if this type of smart information can help guide people on making their decisions or that advertising can turn into providing ethical data rather than simply presenting a fake image.

Week 3

Hans Rosling: The best stats you’ve ever seen:

Data has always been presented to us from a biased western viewpoint. Having lived in 2 different countries, I have experienced the polarization of two propagandas. This video presents stats that were surprisingly positive and optimistic. It proved that countries in Africa and Latin America are not giant holes of endless problems. It proved that these countries range from some of the wealthiest in the world to some of the poorest. Not only does this visualization give us perspective on how to design correctly for problems these countries face but to also not petty them and label them as weak.

My questions for Hans are what implications does this data have on the perception of these third world countries from other nations? Where did those Swedish students gain their knowledge to answer those questions incorrectly? I believe that understanding the root of the problem of their misconception can help misunderstanding.

Designing Field Trial Protocols in Ethiopia for Pneumonia Diagnostic Devices: 

This reading brought up an interesting point the panelists touched on today: “Timely and accurate diagnosis is critical to preventing pneumonia deaths.” Manuel mentioned that when the Ebola crisis came out, medication was one of the most important solutions but that also the spread of information on how to prevent this disease was equally imperative.

It was interesting to read about the process of design and involving the stakeholders of ARIDA in this article. It exemplifies one of the principles of innovation: collaboration.

The Economics of Drone Delivery: 

Personally, I would rather use drones to deliver blood samples in Lesotho rather than my amazon purchases. I think this raises an interesting question of how we as a society always want the fastest easiest option. Is getting your package 3 or 4 days later really that much of a wait? Studies have already shown that the attention span of humans has decreased with the increase of technology.. do we need yet another “innovation” to boost a capitalistic venture and make us more impatient beings? Why can’t we use this technology instead to solve problems in remote areas as the article suggests.

Aerial Damage Assessment Following Hurricane Sandy:

A bit confused when I read this article. Why are we comparing aerial images of damages caused by Hurricane Sandy? What do we gain from this assessment that can help us “ensure quality and reliability for future responses”? I see their overall point in that we should gather data first, bring in non-experts for judgment, and then lastly bring in experts to confirm results. However, what’s the scalability of this study? How can it apply to other emergencies?

What is driving UBER’s Global Impact?

I wonder how Uber designed their app for countries like Uganda or Saudi Arabia and how that design process looked like. I would be interested to hear more about the journey there rather than hearing about a brief overnight success story (because certainly that’s not the truth)

Community Case Management handbook:

I really liked how this handbook broke down the entire process of designing health care delivery. It was very clear and efficient. It reaffirmed everything the panelists said today. Manuel’s point of how data can slowly be collected in countries where there are no digital traces was touched upon. To me, this represents the true ethical way of dealing with data, not trespassing one’s privacy, and how simple information can create organization and awareness, and even connect people together such as the community case worker and her community.

Questions for panelists:

 1. How can we connect the mobile health system designed by UNICEF and Frog design to the UBER design model? I definitely see correlations there

2. Would UBER support a venture that was not supported by any monetary value?

Design Thinking Workshop

Problem: Danni wishes she could informally communicate with her parents who live in China. Her parents do not like to text and when they wish to communicate, they always want a live facetime video chat on the weekends. Danni wishes she could communicate with them more casually rather than face to face interaction.

My solution: designing audio device chips that could be incorporated in pieces of clothing you wear daily to send recorded audio messages to each other. One tap means listen to audio messages and two taps mean record. This way, communication is informal but yet still personal. it also solves the issue of the vast time difference that sometimes prevents them from chatting.

Prototype: I created ear muffs and fluffy earnings to demonstrate how chip can be incorporated into different things one wears.


Week 2

Principles of Innovation in Action:

Many of the questions that Marianna asked were discussed in class but I particularly found the first question interesting. I agree in the presence of an innovation fever within the tech world. Everyone seeks to make something new and different rather than putting in the effort to study a situation and build upon its existing infrastructure. I appreciate how Fabian recognizes that these labels and terms can truly put a person at a standstill and subconsciously change the work dynamic of a leader. In addition, I also appreciate that the Innovation unit didn’t take “collaboration” as a guaranteed principle. They are constantly revising and questioning how they can work better as a team. I believe that this self-awareness is the root of what makes them successful.

Social Media Fingerprints of Unemployment:

I wonder how their model can provide data about countries with fewer social media outlets?

I was also wondering about privacy issues.. would a method like this ever be truly be used by government to study its country’s economy? Would the public accept it and not label it as spying? I feel that due to a lack of awareness, most users do not know that data is being constantly collected from the digital traces they leave online. How would they feel if they were made more aware?

The Data That Turned the World Upside Down:

This article was extremely troubling to read. Even though, I knew I left digital traces and that data is being collected about me constantly.. the idea that someone can figure out my personality, ethnicity, and views from an aggregate of overwhelming data is crazy. Where does it stop? And does it mean anything if I free my life from any tech influence?

I think it’s interesting when I ask people how they feel about big data collection. Most people’s responses are: “oh I don’t really care that much that data is being collected. I’m not doing anything incriminating”. I think the true danger here is yes you are not doing anything incriminating but that this data is collected to subconsciously change your mood and your decisions. That is where the real problem lies.

Fake News Is Not the Only Problem:

This article definitely hit base with how I have been feeling lately – “the distrust of institutions”. Capitalism and money feeds fake news. I can def see how fake news really influences some people’s opinions especially those who have come up to me to ask rather strange questions about Saudi Arabia they have seen on the news.. where did they get this news? Saudi Arabia is a mysterious country to the west and thus the media paints a picture, as the article states, with beliefs and expectations one already has.

I wonder how this affects third world countries with less social media outlets and media coverage?

Questions for Guest Speakers:

  1. How did you become interested in the topic of big data?
  2. What do you think is the most “popular” topic regarding data collection and analysis?
  3. How can you work with big data ethically?
  4. When do you think big data intervention has crossed a line?
  5. Why do you think the laws regarding privacy are more relaxed in the US than Europe? Does it have to do with lack of public awareness?