Arvana (formerly Light Bulb) is an app that allows smartphone users to generate a home or business digital address. While most of buildings and business in Uganda lack physical postcode and addresses, Arvana wants to be the one app to rectify this by incorporating tech to solve real world problems like Uganda’s messy addressing system.
Do your parcel/delivery agents find a hard time to locate you while making deliveries? Are you not listed on the available mapping solutions? Can you be found by emergency services in case disaster strikes? All these, Arvana seeks to address.
Note: Arvana is still in beta and is being tested as of this writing with the general roll out anticipated in the near future.
Digital physical addressing
By use of a smartphone with the Arvana app installed. A user opens the app and selects an option to generate a code. Then he/she inputs the roads or towns name where the premises are located.
For easier navigation, the user can as well input a supplementary photo of the building/plot/front gate of the business or home in question.
When user has confirmed the provided info and ready to generate the code, he/she has to tap the save button.
Its at this point that the user is given visual confirmation that the code has been generated. The generated code can be used as a physical address and then shared.
Finding places using Arvana’s digital addresses
Earlier we explained about sharing generated codes. These can as well be used by other Arvana users to locate fellow businesses, homes and services listed in its address book.
The app translates the location code into geographic coordinates, displays the home/business on the map and offers navigation options.
A look into the future: making the physical world smarter (A note from Arvana)
By leveraging the recent advances in IoT (Internet of Things), the Arvana team intends to create a smarter physical world.This is the direction Arvana would like to take in the near future, all in a bid to provide contextually relevant data to people.
This means people should receive data in the situations when they desire it,even before they know they do.
This creates unique opportunities for African countries to create smart cities where information isn’t only readily available but is delivered in an intuitively natural way.
Take for instance a tourist/visitor at an exhibit in an art gallery; Arvana will exploit IoT to provide more information (on mobile via the application) about a particular painting as the visitor approaches the painting or stands before it for a while. As the visitor stands before the painting, they naturally desire to know more about said painting i.e. when it was painted, by whom it was painted and so on.
This is the gap Arvana seeks to fill and give the painting the power to say, “Hello there! I am the Mona Lisa, painted by celebrated Italian artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci in 1503.” There are many other applications with some particularly exciting ones in healthcare, retail, events planning etc. This is the future we envision when we think about humanity’s interaction with the physical world.
We had a brief Q&A session with Edmond from Arvana and here is what he had to say.
TJ: Aren’t you replicating the ongoing National Postcode and Addressing system?
We have done extensive research and the addressing system being developed is for Kampala only and is being deployed by KCCA. The national postcode project is under the mandate of Posta Uganda and is not to the best of my knowledge, being executed yet at the moment.
Arvana has a nationwide coverage, with the ability to generate custom codes for all districts in Uganda; the house numbering exercise being carried out by KCCA is for Kampala only. We approached the the department handling the KCCA project, explained what we intended to do and they agreed to share the information collected like house numbers.
Arvana doesn’t seek to compete with KCCA’s house numbering project but rather to enhance it. After the multi-year KCCA project is complete, every property within Kampala will have a property number.
These properties will still be difficult to find, which is where Arvana enhances accessibility by making them searchable through the app as well as providing on-map display with turn-by-turn navigation options.
Arvana also satisfies the unique need to generate digital addresses (codes) on the fly like creating and sharing a location for a temporary event such as a party.
TJ: Does Arvana incorporate land registry info like plot and block numbers?
With regards to the land registry info (block and plot numbers), we are not incorporating that information at the moment. Our research shows that the land registry project is aimed towards reducing on land theft as well as fraudulent sale of land, and not necessarily improving accessibility to improve service delivery. We shall however, revisit the issue at a future time.