A group in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning aims to create a kind of “Consumer Reports” for products designed to help the developing world.
The Comprehensive Initiative on Technology Evaluation (CITE) released its first report this week, an analysis of solar lanterns for sale in Uganda. The report compared 11 different lanterns based on price and features such as runtime, charging time, and brightness. The report attributes were selected based on interviews with solar lantern users in Uganda.
“What surprised us is that the market was flooded but no one knew which one really works,” team leader Bishwapriya Sanyal, MIT’s Ford International Professor of Urban Development and Planning, said in an interview with Beta Boston.
CITE hopes its reports will provide manufacturers and financers with information they can use to better align their products with end users. For instance, most people looking to purchase a solar lantern want one that can also charge their cellphone. The group believes its analyses will also benefit aid groups providing relief efforts after natural disasters.
CITE is currently completing a second study, on the use of water filters in India, and has undertaken a new project in Uganda, evaluating grain storage options for farmers. A complete list of CITE’s efforts for 2015 is available on its website.
CITE is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Read more about CITE at Beta Boston.
Read about another project, led by asssociate professor in mechanical engineering Maria Yang, to draw up guidelines on product design for emerging markets.