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MeshPower, an NGO startup based in Rwanda, had the vision, data, and resources to provide power to local communities in Rwanda yet struggled with identifying the best locations to maximize their impact. In collaboration with the Javelin Group and Alteryx For Good, they began their analytic journey using Alteryx to determine the optimal locations for building power grids in Rwanda, evaluating factors like population, infrastructure, and local economics. This new approach provided them with increased operational viability, while also pushing them towards profitability and the expansion of their business footprint.
Describe the business challenge or problem you needed to solve
MeshPower operates in Rwanda and aims to support communities through the development of solar energy for rural villages and refugees not covered by the national grid. To date, only 51% of households in Rwanda have access to electricity with less than 15% receiving power via off-grid systems.
By laying Solar panels that are linked to a secure battery storage unit in the center of a village, communities can power homes, local businesses, schools, refugee camps, and clinics, ultimately improving the local economy and living conditions in the region.
MeshPower currently has 70 sites across the country and when planning to create the next 70, they faced challenges in their site selection. To maximize their mission impact, MeshPower turned to Javelin Group to determine a solution for the major constraints in the selection process:
What is the number of new people reached by the site?
What is the number of new households reached by the site?
What is the number of key infrastructure nearby? E.g. schools, hospitals, refugee camps, etc.
What are the income and financial variables involved?
As with other consulting engagements, Javelin Group utilized Alteryx to build a solution and determine the best course of action.
Describe your working solution
Prior to Alteryx, MeshPower had a hodgepodge system for selecting grid sites. They would use Google Maps to manually observe what regions were most densely populated and from there, they would hire someone to visit the selected region and determine the effect the grid would have. It became evident this was not the best solution. After discussing a variety of possible approaches through analytics, Javelin deduced the best method would be placing grids all over Rwanda to test and rank each location, as this approach provided the highest degree of thoroughness.
Using the Spatial Capabilities in Alteryx, the team could easily and effectively determine the value for each site. MeshPower already had a significant amount of data for each village in Rwanda, allowing them to see existing power grid coverage, a list of infrastructure locations, and compare it to the demographic information on the nation. With Spatial Matching, Javelin’s solution could visually identify the range of one micro grid and provide a “weight” to see what portion of the population would be reached.
The solution includes a scoring element to help determine what the “best” sites would be. There are multiple variables that MeshPower cared about and wanted the ability to easily change the criteria. This led to the creation of an Analytic App within Designer that allows MeshPower to quickly run their analysis, easily changing grading parameters to match their desired needs.
MeshPower can evaluate the test parameter results and output as a PCXML file or to a database. These reports show the range and impact of the prospective grid, the number of villages and households affected, and distance covered. This solution has changed the entire way the business operates and provides them with increased insights to make decisions going forward.
Describe the benefits you have achieved
In collaboration with the Javelin Group and Alteryx for Good, MeshPower found a solution using data and analytics to improve the lives of Rwandan people. These insights have helped MeshPower transition to gross profitability, increase sustainability for their work, and allow them to grow their impact in Rwanda. While Alteryx is traditionally used as an enterprise platform, this is just one example of how it can extend far outside of the workplace and make a difference in the world.
The entire PowerPoint presentation can be found here.