The world confronts a major problem: there are hundreds of thousands of trash points. To be more precise – 150.000 illegal waste dumps (and still counting).
We read this number, then stopped for a moment and asked ourselves: how do we make a change? How can we improve this situation through technology?
The answer came with a request from the Let’s Do It! World organization. They wanted us to build a mobile platform that allows people anywhere on the globe to report trash and also attend cleanup initiatives. The app would be a great tool for simultaneous worldwide events that will take place on the World Cleanup Day 2018.
Let’s go through the story of this solution.
Based on the initial design proposal from the DUX team and intense research, we found out the needs of our core target. People would use the app to add trash points only if the process was straightforward and fast. Besides, it should show them the results of an active cleanup community.
Therefore, we came up with a new trash mapping design proposal and a new interface for the World Cleanup app. We organized information more efficiently and simplified the design.
The button that follows you everywhere in the app
If you are on the move, you can still contribute to a cleaner world. Let’s say you’re on a bike, heading to mountains, and you notice a big bunch of empty plastic bottles on the wayside. You don’t have time to stop, but you’d want to let others know about the trash. We made this possible. The “plus” button to add a trash point sticks on the screen anywhere in the app. It’s easy to take a photo, and then, when you have a break, you just select the trash type and add the trash point to the map.
We minimized the pain – reporting trash, and maximized the gain – feeling happy to help the environment be a cleaner place.
Thanks to the intuitive design, we reduced the number of steps when reporting trash from five to three. The app automatically registers the location where the photo has been taken, which makes the process easier and the data more accurate. People can only report trash at no more than 100 meters from it. “We minimized the pain – reporting trash, and maximized the gain – feeling happy to help the environment be a cleaner place”, added Stefan.
The app allows an exact categorization of the trash. Apart from selecting the trash type, you can optionally specify the quantity, the predominant brands of garbage, or add more photos. When the waste is removed, the sign on the map changes from orange (for Regular) or red (for Threat) to green (for Cleaned).
Scalability and availability worldwide
Since the app is designed for people around the world, it should support millions of users at once and a high amount of data. That was the biggest challenge for our development team. “We chose CouchDB for large quantities of documents and ease of multi-master replication. Also, we went for Azure for photo storage and CDN, Node for a microservice backend architecture, and Swagger for the REST API”, explained Ciprian Popovici, Software Architect and Backend Developer.
Contributing to a cleaner world brought us closer to each other, and we managed to work together as one team. “The people in Q found solutions to the obstacles that occurred. I learned from Laura and Alex how to keep positive vibes in the air in difficult times and that we are stronger together than alone. I believe that Ciprian and the DevOps team made lots of pivots to find the best approach. Also, Stefan and Elena asked valuable questions to test our core needs and deliver an easy-to-use mobile app”, said Kristiina Kerge, Product Owner Let’s Do It! World.
The mobile app is available in App Store and Google Play, in 180 countries from around the globe. In the first days after launch, hundreds of people in the whole world tested it and started adding trash points on the map.
The World Cleanup app will serve as an excellent tool for the World Cleanup Day 2018. Teams of volunteers in the whole world will collect the waste in their countries based on the most critical trash points reported in the app.
Cleaning Romania & Cleaning the World
Back in 2015, we were launching the Let’s Do It! Romania mobile app, which proved to have a great local impact ever since. In two years, there are 8785 users of the app, who have reported almost 5000 trash points all over the country. Dozens of cleanup actions are organized every season, based on the trash points signalized in the Let’s Do It! Romania app.
With the World Cleanup mobile app, we went globally. People everywhere in the world can contribute to a cleaner world. They can build an accurate map of the trash in their region. Moreover, they take part of cleanup events with other volunteers.