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Developing Apps For Developing Countries

Developing Apps For Developing Countries

As given at Mongo DB World 2017 in Chicago

Jameson Alea

June 15, 2017

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  1. Let me tell you about Medicapt! MDBW 17 | @jameybash

    Awards! • Won USAID-Humanity United Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention in 2013 • Nominated for Human Rights Tulip award in 2015
  2. Wow Jamey that’s really cool! How did you end up

    working on that??? MDBW 17 | @jameybash
  3. Challenges I Expected To Face • Privacy concerns! • Super

    important when working with medical information • Required PIN every time app times out • Didn’t store any images on the phone itself MDBW 17 | @jameybash • Chain of custody concerns! • Making a paper trail of who created and edited and accessed what files • Important for law enforcement to prove who saw what and when!
  4. Challenges I Expected To Face • Lack of wifi! •

    A constraint that’s a little more unique to programming in the third world • Planned to use a NoSQL solution to rely on eventual consistency MDBW 17 | @jameybash • An inexperienced user base! • Good UI/UX is always important of course, but it’s different when your target audience hasn’t really used apps before • Can’t assume the same things will be intuitive to them, since they don’t have the same shared background
  5. And then I actually went to Africa… ... and it

    completely challenged how I was thinking about the project! MDBW 17 | @jameybash
  6. Challenges I *Actually* Faced MDBW 17 | @jameybash • Lack

    of resources more than just wifi! • They wanted to do printing but there were no printers available in the hospitals. • No reliable electricity! This was the first thing that really required out of the box thinking because you can’t just magic up power. • *Very* inexperienced user base! • As frequent smartphone users, we didn’t do a great job predicting what kinds of things our user base would find difficult: • Clicking on the text box in order to type in it wasn’t intuitive • Unfamiliar with underscores
  7. Challenges I *Actually* Faced MDBW 17 | @jameybash • Lack

    of tech support! • If something breaks, there’s no IT person around to fix it. • So everything needs to be very reliable – and have easy solutions to fix if something does go wrong. • Trust issues! • Not a super technical issue – but a lot of the challenges we faced *weren’t* super technical • Users who weren’t used to smartphones were very hesitant to use and trust them
  8. How we overcame these challenges • Specialized equipment! Market research!

    • You can hit a ton of special considerations with the right hardware MDBW 17 | @jameybash • Portable size • Battery powered • Ease of use & error handling • Bluetooth enabled
  9. How we overcame these challenges • Non-standard solutions to problems!

    • Letting go of the idea of using off- the-shelf solutions & building a lot of stuff from scratch! • Camera functionality to not save to the camera roll • Printed using custom BT solution that literally sent info to printer via byte stream MDBW 17 | @jameybash • A different kind of UI! • Made a decision to build the app in a way that spelled EVERYTHING out for the user • Step by step instructions • Built in instructions for common problems so they could troubleshoot it themselves
  10. My conclusions • In order to make a program that’s

    usable and useful for an audience that we don’t normally program for, we must: • Think about their needs and how they’re different • Live a day in different shoes in order to experience empathy for the less technical considerations • Learn how to look at our own app with new eyes and try to imagine what it will be like for other people to experience it MDBW 17 | @jameybash