One of the purposes of creating products for developing countries is to improve the consumer's quality of life. Currently, there is no standard method for measuring the social impact of these types of products. As a result, engineers have used their own metrics, if at all. Some of the common metrics used include products sold and revenue, which measure the financial success of a product without recognizing the social successes or failures it might have. In this paper, we introduce a potential universal metric, the product impact metric (PIM), which quantifies the impact a product has on impoverished individuals—especially those living in developing countries. It measures social impact broadly in five dimensions: health, education, standard of living, employment quality, and security. By measuring impact multidimensionally, it captures impacts both anticipated and unanticipated, thereby providing a broader assessment of the product's total impact than with other more specific metrics. The PIM is calculated based on 18 simple field measurements of the consumer. It is inspired by the UN's Multidimensional Poverty Index (UNMPI) created by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The UNMPI measures how level of poverty within a nation changes year after year, and the PIM measures how an individual's poverty level changes after being affected by an engineered product. The PIM can be used to measure social impact (using specific data from products introduced into the market) or predict social impact (using personas that represent real individuals).
Toward a Universal Social Impact Metric for Engineered Products That Alleviate Poverty
Contributed by the Design Automation Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received April 28, 2017; final manuscript received December 15, 2017; published online February 27, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Carolyn Seepersad.
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Stevenson, P. D., Mattson, C. A., Bryden, K. M., and MacCarty, N. A. (February 27, 2018). "Toward a Universal Social Impact Metric for Engineered Products That Alleviate Poverty." ASME. J. Mech. Des. April 2018; 140(4): 041404. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4038925
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