JSK Reports

That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.
Steve Jobs

Background:

We wanted to represent the work done at the JSKs (to view a video on JSK Project concept click here) on a website in the form of reports. But there were a few challenges –

a)     Slow and unreliable internet – internet connection speed in rural India is around 64-128kbps. We use a 2G connection at our centers which costs around Rs 98 per month and is sufficient for day to day activities. However the connection speed is quite slow and not reliable If you have to punch in data on websites. Hence the option to give a web interface to the JSK for updating the reports was ruled out.

b)    Limited Computer skills – our rural centers are run by dedicated social activist who started using computers very recently. Hence the interface for entering the reports had to be very simple which did not involve steep learning curve.

c)     Work redundancy  – the JSKs were already maintaining a record of work done and we did not want them to do anything extra for the reports as their time would be better utilized in attending to people’s issues.

d)    Minimal intervention – Transparency was of utmost importance. These reports were meant for the world to see the work done at the centers hence we did not want any manual intervention while populating the reports. Also any manual intervention increases the possibility of errors.

e)    Minimal time lag – The reports had to represent the work done at the centers. There should not be much time lag. For example – one should be able to view how many people came to the center at Sandilla today to get RTI formulated, what was the nature of their complaints, what is the status of their RTIs/ Applications.

Experiment:

I had experimented with a web based work flow system, in which the center in-charge would login to the website and update his work. One such free module in joomla was tested which had required functionalities but was not good for us because of limitations – a) slow and unreliable internet b) limited computer skills. (discussed above)

Eventually the solution came out to be much simpler than I had thought.

Google Drive integration with WordPress

To me, the extraordinary aspect of martial arts lies in its simplicity. The easy way is also the right way, and martial arts is nothing at all special; the closer to the true way of martial arts, the less wastage of expression there is.
Bruce Lee

Google docs is a awesome tool to create documents and collaborate with others in real time. It becomes even more powerful when integrated with wordpress.

drive

Snap shot of google docs created for JSKs

What we did…

We got google drive installed on each of the center’s desktop and created a excel sheet in it. This excel sheet contained the report template and was to be filled daily by the center in charge. I would like to mention here that our interns – Shreshth, David & Rachel did a commendable job in this work.

How  google drive solved the problems:

a)     Works on unreliable internet: Since updating this excel file did not require a internet connection, the data could be updated even without internet connection.

excel

The excel sheet template on the google drive which is updated by the JSKs.

b)    No Manual intervention: The file got synced automatically whenever the internet connection was available. Thereafter this data got updated onto the website automatically. Therefore this method requires no manual intervention.

 c)      Works well on slow internet speeds: The data synced was incremental hence the reports got updated even at slow internet connection speed which was sometimes as slow as 64kbps.

d)    Not much learning/ training required: The data was to be entered in excel sheet/ word document, hence this method required minimal training. It requires lesser computer skills as compared to entering data on a website.

 e)    No redundancy: We are using the same excel as work register and as reports thereby reducing redundancy.

 f)      Live Reports: The published report is by default set to sync in every 5 mins with original google doc hence the reports are streaming almost live data from the centers.

So now whenever a unemployed laborer goes to a JSK in Unnao to file an online application for work, his application no. details get updated on our website instantly and anyone around the world can see the status of such work done at JSKs.

website_report

Snap shot of report published on a wordpress website.

 *I’ll demonstrate how to integrate a google doc with a wordpress website in another blog post.

Update: Posted a demo of how to integrate google doc with wordpress click here

Affordable Vs Sustainable

“What should be the charges for the services offered so that it’s affordable yet does not impact the financial sustainability?” – This was the question in our last JSK review meeting held on 8th June 2013 to mark one year of successful operation of JSKs

Background:ImageWe are offering beneficial services such as formulation of RTI, filing for work online under MNREGA etc at JSKs.

Currently, for financial sustainability of centers, there is nominal charge for these services e.g. a) RTI formulation – Rs 10/- plus print out per page as applicable.

b) MNREGA – Rs 20 for online filing and printout of application.

Marginal utility of Rs 20 is quite high for a laborer who has got no work/ earning and comes down to JSK for filing application for work. On the other hand if this service is offered for free , it would affect the financial sustainability of the centers since JSKs are based on self-sustainable model.

Pilot at JSK Unnao:

In this pilot we would make one service – online application of work under NREGA for free at Unnao center. Center will file the application for work online and will provide the unique application no. to the laborer for free. We would have to convince the concerned BDO (Block Development Officer) to accept the unique application no. instead of application print outs. In this way we can reduce the cost involved in the print out.

Also, since filing for work online does not take much time hence it should not lead to considerable loss of revenue for the center.

Additionally to compensate the loss in revenue, we’ll be adding a new revenue based service to the center – Color passport size photos.  For which we’ll provide color printer and digital camera and necessary training to Dhanpati (JSK Unnao) for free.

Idea is to earn profit from color photo service and cross-subsidize essential service – online work application.

The results of this experiment are yet to be seen. If this experiment is successful, it would be very useful for the laborers/ villagers and we would subsequently roll it out at other centers as well.*

* I’ll post the outcome of this experiment soon.

Update: The news about laborers filing for work online through JSK got covered in “The Tribune”. Here is a link to the complete article: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130721/edit.htm#2

Janta Suchna Kendra

Video

This video was made when we started the centers last year. Now after more than a year of its operation, we are happy that the project has lived up to the vision.

Today with eight centers operational in rural UP we have opened one center in Patna, Bihar as well.The centers have become financially sustainable and have
– formulated more than nine hundred RTI/ Applications for the people.
– organized free RTI awareness camps in rural areas
– helped people with making available information available online on the Govt. websites e.g. Land Records, APL/BPL list etc.
– giving opportunity to students to experience the grassroots reality & activism.

We look forward to increasing the reach and services in the coming year.