Kolorob: Lighting up the City
Kolorob is an online mobile platform that delivers access to information about local services. Currently focussed based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, it connects people living in informal settlements with essential service providers: schools, clinics, businesses, and government departments.
Kolorob is Bengali for ‘clamour’, and in a local context, it describes people gathering together to talk, exchange information, and converse about their daily lives.
The Kolorob mobile application combines a directory of services, a map to allow you to find the places you are looking for, a ‘compare’ function to allow you to compare costs and quality of services, and a feedback function to enable users to pass on valuable insider knowledge on service providers to others. The application creates an open space for dialogue between service providers and users, and operates as a marketplace for information that local people need in their daily lives.
Kolorob helps residents living in informal settlements of Dhaka to navigate their city using just their phone or digital kiosks in user-friendly community centres. These centres are equipped with computers, internet, and a room for children and young people to meet, study, play and learn.
- South Asia
- Children and Youth
- Smart city and technology
- Citizen engagement
- Education and training
- Economic development
- Migration and refugees
- Inclusion and equity
- Informal settlements and poverty alleviation
- Barrier-free city
- Capacity building of stakeholders
- Information technologies
- Public participation
- Mentorship program
Background and objectives
The World Bank estimated the urban population of Bangladesh is likely to double in the next twenty years, growing to nearly 100 million people by 2030. Incoming migrants, moving into unfamiliar areas of a new city, suffer spatial, social and economic exclusion, limiting their capability to access opportunities and basic social services despite their desire to create better lives for themselves and their children.
Through the use of mobile technology, internet and visual mapping applications, the Kolorob app taps into the virtual space of ICT (information, communication and technology), creating an online platform and physical space to improve access to information on essential services. The online service directory and interactive map helps new urban dwellers to search and compare information: to find a clinic, or a school, or a government office that they may have otherwise not known about.
As a user of the app, you can also add new information to the app, updating details of an existing school, or adding details of a new employment opportunity. You can also provide feedback on the services that you have paid for, answering such questions as: was it value for money? Was it child friendly? Was the service you needed available at the health centre you visited? Are there any free services available?
Kolorob aims to eliminate the social gap of low income communities and people living in urban poor settlements, providing our target users, primarily young people, parents and caregivers - with critical information. Delivering that information quickly and freely can realise children's rights to education, health and protection from harm, as well as give them access to jobs and other valuable information on the city.
The "Kolorobian" approach was built on the spirit of volunteerism, with young people driving the innovation behind the game-changing ICT idea to make into a reality. Youth from within and outside of the projects site areas led efforts to map the sites collect and upload data, conduct the research, build the software and brand Kolorob through posters, word-of-mouth and social media.
Financing and resources
Kolorob is a project of Save the Children Bangladesh and Save the Children Australia. It is executed through a collaboration between the Policy, Rights and Governance sector and ICT team.
Local and international project partners include:
- Parra (an architecture firm based in Dhaka and London)
- Kolpo (a Dhaka-based design studio)
- Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University (a Sydney-based research institute, with expertise in sociology, and urban and technology studies)
- OSM mappers (a global community of volunteers contributing to OpenStreetMap)
Results and impacts
Barriers and challenges
Many directory services and mapping applications today are funded through advertising revenue or user contributions, such as “in-app purchases” available through many mobile phone apps. Kolorob has deliberately targeted areas that have neither consumers with high discretionary incomes nor businesses with large advertising budgets. Though the project has been highly cost-effective, it is now seeking alternative ways, including crowdfunding, to sustain software development, community mapping and local marketing.
Lessons learned and transferability
Kolorob and the National Mobile Application Award:
Save the Children Bangladesh:
Save the Children Australia:
Institute for Culture and Society: