ROLE: LEAD DESIGNER ••• PROJECT DURATION: SIX(6) WEEKS
The National addressing system is an initiative of the Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo to solve the address issues in Nigeria. Currently, the numbering of most streets in Nigeria is totally off. There is house number 1 here and house number 22 beside it, most residents of some streets can’t give directions to the right building ’cause they have no idea which building has which number.
This has affected the success of businesses, especially those in the e-commerce industry. It is a fact that logistics companies spend a bulk of their time trying to locate the right house number on a street, this has led to late and missed deliveries. When some Nigerians make a purchase from a store outside the country, the items are usually delivered to the Nigerian post office, and the item needs to be picked up from the post office in person, this is because the post office’s logistics department has encountered issues with locating the right house addresses. While some streets have issues with being numbered properly, some are not numbered at all. Houses are identified by who has lived or currently lives in them, what color it is painted, or where it situated.
For a long time, people have become accustomed to giving long and ambiguous directions to others visiting where they stay or work, this causes a ripple effect, it makes it difficult for emergency service providers to locate addresses when there’s a need for their service. People complain of the fire service unit showing up late when they are needed. But, how would they arrive early when the bulk of the time is spent trying to locate the address or street?
Therefore, in other to solve this problem, the Federal Government decided to use a digital tool that’ll make it easy for residents to claim and verify their addresses without having to go through any vigorous procedure.
My team and I were tasked with delivering a mobile application that’ll allow residents to claim and verify digital addresses.
First off, we started out with creating personas.
To deliver a product that will be used by almost anybody that owns or rents an apartment, it is necessary to put individual differences into consideration and their different levels of exposure when it comes to embracing and using tech-related products, like a mobile application.
- Make addresses easy to find
- Have addresses verified for each individual
- Increase response time for Emergency Services
- An easy to remember address shortcode(like domain names for IP addresses)
Understanding and Analyzing existing solution
The current solution/structure in place is the regular street naming and building numbering, for some reason, some buildings have different numbers(old and new), some streets names are wrongly spelt, there are streets that have the same names within a close range and in some cases, some buildings don’t have any number at all. People use landmarks to make references or give directions about their addresses.
- No addresses on some buildings
- Double addresses on some buildings
- Two streets within a close range sharing the same name
- Use of landmarks for giving directions
Understanding what the people actually need
We spent the first week talking to some Nigerians that either own or rent an apartment and those affected by this problem to know how they would like to have the solution presented. The information we gathered had the most of the respondents suggesting that the Government should properly name streets and number buildings. But, when we presented them with the likelihood of having them decide their house unique address and have the address verified by NIPOST(Nigerian Postal Service), they welcomed it wholesomely.
- As mentioned earlier, people have become accustomed to giving ambiguous directions to anybody trying to find their address.
- The delay in the response speed of emergency services has been tagged as incompetence without properly understanding the cause this has made emergency service providers become reluctant about trying to be on time when they’re called.
- Shopping online(mostly) from International online stores has become a pain by default. Having to go to the wharf or Post office to sign endless documents to collect the ordered item is a discouraging factor for Nigerians who shop online.
After a couple of tests and iterations, we decided on a design to roll out.
The primary goal was to deliver a mobile application that is simple and easy to use.
We started out with good-to-have features and we stripped it down to the barest minimum keeping in mind who the product is meant for and it’s possible use-cases.
We removed Login/Signup for first-time users. The thing is that anyone can claim an address and use it. You may have delivery or need for a particular address, and you can use the app to generate an address and use it for whatever the purpose is. But, when a user wants to verify an address, we go ahead and collect a little more information, and send the user an email and to set up their account. This way, users can use the product without any barriers.
Claim and Verify Address
To claim an address, the user has to pinpoint their location or select it on the map and a digital address code will be generated. For this, we are using a combination of shortcode for the State, Local Government and randomly generated numbers. Once the user generates their address code, they choose to either personalize or go ahead and verify it. The App saves every address claimed on it using the user’s mobile number.
Calling for Emergency Services
One of the problems that come with the wrong numbering and naming of streets and buildings is that it makes it difficult for addresses to be found in emergency cases. Therefore, one of the challenges is to fix this problem with the addressing system. This will make it easy for emergency services to locate buildings without having to spend an extra second asking where the address is located.
And users can relax when they call for help knowing that help is on the way and will get to them shortly.
The share feature is to enable users to share their digital addresses with family, friends, delivery service providers and emergency service providers.
It’s been a couple of months since the app went live and we’ve been collecting and collating feedbacks from reviews on Google Play and App Store and offline and are sieving through them to pick the necessary ones that’ll make it to the next version.