myUTS: All-In-One Hub application for UTS students

Organic waste management is a very complex system with numerous stakeholders and potential problems. Some of the stakeholder identified includes:

Government: (Local Councils, Department of Environment)
Business Owners: (Cafes to Printing Services to Book Stores)
Waste Contractors: (Landfill, Organic Waste Collectors (EarthPower))
Working staff: (Teaching staff to Administration to Security)
Students: (Local, International to Exchange)

With this we started to categorise and branch out to identify the problems involved:

  • Working Staff and Waste Contractors (Cleaning Department): Waste separation isn’t 100% thus there is still some manual labour to be done.
  • Business Owners and Government: There is a lack of campaigning in and at the stores but if you look at it at a larger scale, organic waste management is generally not promoted much or simply ignored.
  • Students and Working staff: Do not use the organic bins or use it wrongly out of habit or lack of knowledge.

What are their knowledge capacities on organic waste? How involved are they in organic waste management on a daily basis? Why do they do what they do and how do we help them when there is a constant rapid change of cohort?

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With these questions in mind, we propose the ‘myUTS’ smartphone application. It will serve as an all-in-one hub for all utilities for UTS students and staff by combining social media, timetable and booking system, interactive maps, integrating with an organic waste management education system that will start educating users with an implemented reward system to encourage recycling and separation at its source.

Students that are environmentally conscious would be delighted to have their knowledge recognised, with daily quizzes and rewards based on what can go into their bins, while still being a useful utility that would make their life in UTS more convenient.

On the other hand, myUTS can also target the large amount of international students that studies at UTS (in 2015 this made up of 25% of the entire cohort) by providing them with a platform to help settle in. They might not have knowledge or habits surrounding waste recycling and separation but by trickling this knowledge into their daily use of social media, this app should be able to not only change their thinking, but let them bring this culture back to their own country and educate their peers.

STEEP Framework:

  • Social: While there is current initiative in organic waste management and recycling within UTS, the knowledge isn’t widespread enough and its a bit hard for normal students to gain information unless they take the initiative to go educate themselves. There is also a need to break habits – convenience is a major driver in how people behave around recycling, as a lot of them carry the ‘out of sight out of mind’ mindset.
  • Technological: Current smartphone technology will support this intervention. There is already an existing social media culture and there is also a need for a centralised hub of UTS utilities (currently it is scattered in multiple hard to use interfaces).
  • Economical: It will benefit local business in nurturing growth through getting these students to spend on these establishments, letting a thriving local community grow.
  • Environmental: Due to it being a mainly digital intervention, it will generate minimal waste and will be easy to maintain. Also by separating waste at its source, it will allow the university to relocate their resources into other processes, saving labour cost and driving efficiency.
  • Political: International students can bring this culture back home to educate their peers, fostering international relations. Other university and councils can also take it up in their own complex ecosystem, educating the next generation in securing a better future.

 

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