Author Archives: ICTworks

A Practical Guide for Engaging with Mobile Network Operators to Improve mHealth Outcomes

The field of mobile health (mHealth) is experiencing a real need for guidance on public–private partnerships among players as diverse as the mobile industry, technology vendors, government stakeholders and mHealth service providers. This practical guide for engaging with mobile network operators in mHealth for reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health provides a practical resource for mHealth service providers (e.g. developers and implementers) to partner more strategically with one of these critical players – the mobile network operators (MNOs). Despite the growing literature on how to develop partnerships, there is a lack of clear, practical strategies for the health community to engage with MNOs to better scale up mHealth services.

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Ranking the 6 Problems with ICT4D Product Rankings

I still remember how excited I was, the first time that FrontlineSMS got asked to participate in a “How to Choose the Right Tool for You,” technology product ranking. It was validating – we were being included in a special list of tools that development practitioners should consider while doing whatever it is they do. The second time, was great too! We were gaining steam. The third time, we still exchanged smiles around the office.

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You Are Following the Humanitarian UAV Network Code of Conduct, Right?

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) offer the potential to improve humanitarian assistance and disaster reduction. As such, they offer the possibility to better meet the needs of those affected by humanitarian crises. This can only be realized if UAVs are employed in a responsible and ethical manner. This UAV Code of Conduct developed by the Humanitarian UAV Network aims to guide all actors involved in the use of UAVs to support the delivery of humanitarian assistance in disasters and situations of conflict.

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4 Ways We Weaponize Data

Vu Le writes the amazing Nonprofit With Balls blog, and while he is focused on the USA domestic NGO community, the points he makes transcend borders and are applicable to all of development – domestic or international.  For example, this excerpt from his post, Weaponized data: How the obsession with data has been hurting marginalized communities, should make us all rethink how we use data in development: Register now for MERL Tech 2016 to debate how we can be more responsible with development data. How We Weaponized Data A very serious danger regarding data is when it is deployed without consideration for cultural and other competencies. Poorly thought-out data, unfortunately, is rampant in our sector. Again, I don’t think anyone has bad intentions when using data, but that does not prevent data from being used to cause harm.

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Give Us Your Sexist Data, And We Will Give You an Apple Watch!

Women are one-half of the world’s population, one-third of its official workforce and do two-thirds of its productive work, yet they earn one-tenth of its income and own less than one-hundredth of its property. To think that poverty alleviation can occur without considering the lives of both women and men, and their roles and contributions, is short-sighted. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by poverty, this itself is nothing new — as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently stated, poverty is sexist. So why is it that, in our data-driven universe, we don’t know more about women and their lives? Sex disaggregated data plays a crucial role in measuring women’s equality.

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How Can We Create an Integrated ICTforAg Sensor Ecosystem?

We are on the cusp of a second green revolution. Through the application of connected technologies, we have the potential to increase agricultural productivity by 70% by 2050, helping us meet the 70% increase in agricultural demand projected in the same time frame. Yet this second green revolution is not assured, and previous posts in this series have explored various barriers to it becoming a reality. In this post, I will explore a final barrier: the need for a cohesive, coordinated and broad-reaching ecosystem for sensor applications for smallholder agriculture in the developing world – and lay out a path for how we can make this a reality.

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What Is The True Cost of Collecting Performance Indicator Data?

We had a fascinating conversation a few weeks ago with a medical doctor who runs an HIV clinic in Tanzania. He offered an anecdote that powerfully illustrates an important issue that we’ve begun to uncover with our Results Data Initiative: Does the development community understand the total costs of collecting data for performance indicators? and Does the value of such indicators justify these costs? Register now for MERL Tech to debate which indicator data really matters, and the best way to collect it. Our friend, as we mentioned, founded and operates an HIV clinic that serves hundreds of patients

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Managing the Data Transmission Constraints When Using ICTforAg Sensors

By 2018, according to a recent report from Ericsson, the largest category of connected devices in the world will be comprised of a variety of vehicles and machines, utility meters, sensor technologies and consumer electronics – all captured under the name “Internet of Things” (IoT). This has wide-ranging implications for how economic activity will be organized across multiple sectors including transport, power provision and agriculture. The change is already underway in industrialized agriculture. Connected farm implements, satellite imagery, ground sensor technologies, historical data on yield or inputs, and data analysis are beginning to be used to help make on-farm practices more precise and profitable. The Communications Constraint The full expansion of IoT to the farm, however, is constrained by the costs of wireless communications for IoT devices.

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Oxfam’s Responsible Data Policy – Do You Have One Too?

As a rights-based organization, Oxfam is committed to using data responsibly in order to uphold the rights of the individuals, groups, and organizations with whom we work. Using data responsibly is not just an issue of technical security and encryption but also of safeguarding the rights of people to be counted and heard; ensure their dignity, respect and privacy; enable them to make informed decisions; and not be put at risk, when providing data. Register now for MERL Tech to join the session Developing and Operationalizing Responsible Data Policies with the authors of this policy. Oxfam recognizes that people have rights with regards to the information related to them and that Oxfam has a responsibility to uphold those rights.

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Stop Giving Away Smartphones!

Pretty much every day, I hear the same failure refrain repeated again and again, “We gave away 50-100 smartphones for our mobile project.” Why is this an indication of failure? Please show me the Ministry that can afford to buy 10,000 or 100,000 or 1,000,0000 smartphones for all it’s frontline staff, even before maintenance, support, or replacement costs are added in. There are none. Which means every free phone pilot is doomed to fail to scale. So what can be done

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3 Barriers to Using Sensors to Improve ICTforAg

As mentioned in Sabeen Dhanani’s initial post in this series, How Can Sensor Technologies and Precision Farming Improve Agriculture?, technology is the easiest part of using sensors to support improved agricultural practices in developing countries. Today, fairly inexpensive sensors are readily available that can measure almost anything related to agriculture. Yet, as identified through USAID’s ICTforAg convening in Silicon Valley, numerous technology barriers persist, including: Enabling efficient data transmission Testing and refining analysis to accurately reflect local conditions Reaching a production scale that supports a price point that enables widespread use in developing markets. These challenges can be overcome, however, as exemplified by the Betel Meter, prototyped by and Proximity Designs, that helps farmers optimize their irrigation and enable precision-farming techniques in Burma. Barrier #1: Data Transmission The Challenge There are a number of ways to transmit data from sensors.

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How Can Sensor Technologies and Precision Farming Improve Agriculture?

The use of precise, granular data collected via remote and ground sensors has tremendous potential to improve agriculture outcomes. In the industrialized world the most mature aspects of the application of these tools tend to be linked with GPS-based crop monitoring such as that used by the Climate Corporation which gives farmers access to real-time, field-level data. However, the application of these tools in a developing context is still being explored. This post details the outcome of a USAID convening exploring the the potential for precision agriculture technologies in developing countries. Working with 10 other federal agencies, USAID leads Feed the Future, the U.S.

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How Liberia Can Save Over $5 Million with Mobile Money Salary Payments

Liberia is a cash-based economy, and ATMs are few and far in between, restricted mainly to Monrovia hotels frequented by expats. In fact, as of 2014, some 60% of financial service facilities were in Montserrado Country, where the capital Monrovia is located, while some counties did not even have bank representation at all. Liberia’s civil servants depend on this unreliable and interspersed financial services and banking sector—some having to travel for days to collect and cash a paper check or withdraw money after receiving their salary payment through direct deposit. The High Costs of Getting Paid In 2014, 37% of civil servants still received their salary payments via paper check yet the entire country had only 75 bank branches operated by nine commercial banks.

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Apply Now: $100,000 in Grant Funding for Digital Financial Services Entrepreneurs

Do you have an inner flame that compels you to be a founder at a startup? Do you have deep expertise in fintech, payments, or retail finance? Do you dream of creating digital financial products that will serve the needs of billions of low income consumers in developing countries? Then apply now to be part of the inaugural FinTech Boot Camp this October 23 – 28, 2016 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Digital Financial Services Innovation Lab will bring together 10 purpose-driven entrepreneurs to participate in DFS Lab’s Fintech Boot Camp to build innovative products, services and technologies for low-income consumers using the Design Sprint methodology in a 5-day workshop to design, prototype and test new ideas.

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