Remote Field Testing
For this project WaterScope partnered up with 3 organisations; Blue Nile Centre, Ethiopia; Stic Lab, Tanzania and I4water, South Africa. By running online workshops we aimed to generate and extract raw data from the field as well as developing communications with end-users and collaborators to identify any problem-points moving forward. This project was organised and executed by Sammy Mahdi (Co-founder of WaterScope), Cassi Henderson (Research and Development), Alicja Dabrowska (Head of Microbiology R&D) and Tianheng Zhao (Co-founder of WaterScope).
The project was undertaken through virtual workshops conducted online with the key collaborators. Facilitating the workshop remotely involved: communicating expectations for the workshop, guiding collaborators through the use steps for the system involving detailed observation to catch use errors and providing clarification and eliciting feedback and troubleshooting points.
The main struggles that this project faced were the technical issues of not being able to clearly observe the way the users are operating the system as well as the challenge of servicing the system and extracting data remotely. Overall, ‘remote testing’ adds additional barriers to understanding participants beyond differences in background and system knowledge. These were overcome by asking participants to carefully dictate their actions, which was then repeated back to the team to consolidate as well as providing clear step-by-step instructions on how to use the system with little or no prior experience with water testing or microbiology. We also used a software that was able to connect to the WaterScope systems remotely via the internet.
Use of this software to remotely access our systems means we can extract the raw data from the field trials, which is extremely useful to improve our machine learning algorithm. Second, we can update the local machine learning algorithm to make the recognition of bacteria better or relay the information to the user in a more understandable way. This feature makes our system stand out from our competitors, and if it wasn’t for the virtual field trials, we would have never implemented it.