Author Archives: ICTworks

Accept the Smartphone Reality in Development

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Recently, Elvis Mushi of Twaweza, shared with me interesting mobile phone survey results from his Sauti za Wananchi program. I find them remarkable in two ways. First, he found that 80% of Tanzanian households own at least 1 mobile phone. Then he found that mobile phone coverage reached 88% of the population. One of the largest and poorest populations now has near-ubiquitous mobile phone access.

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Drones for Development: Humanitarian Use Cases

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Satellite images have been used to support humanitarian efforts for decades. Why? A bird’s eye view of a disaster-affected area simply captures far more information than most Earth-based data-collection technologies can. In short, birds have more situational awareness than we do. In contrast to satellites, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAV) offer significantly higher-resolution imagery, are unobstructed by clouds, can be captured more quickly, by more groups and more often at a fraction of the cost with far fewer licensing and data-sharing restrictions than satellite imagery

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Please RSVP: If Mobile Phones Killed the Telecentre, What is Next for Public Internet Access?

IREX Tech Deep Dive – RSVP Now Back at the dawn of the digital divide conversation, leading organizations invested in telecentres — public spaces where people could access computers and learn about the Internet. Fast forward to today, where billions have a personal Internet in their pocket and use Facebook daily, and there is a real question if we still need public access Internet services in the age of the mobile phone. The conclusion of TASCHA’s report on “Why public access ICTs matter” is that we do, in fact, still need public access venues for the millions of people around the world who lack private access to the Internet’s ever-increasing cornucopia of vital information and services. For many, digital inclusion is found at their local public access ICT venue — a school, a library, a cybercafé, or yes, a telecentre.

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1st Toronto Tech Salon: How Can Technology Improve International Development?

May 21st Toronto Salon – RSVP Now We have all seen the pretty pictures of children playing with fancy new gadgets, and while the photos are uplifting, do they really signify progress? Does the introduction of new technology, specifically information and communication technologies like mobile phones, computers, and the Internet really accelerate the social and economic advancement of the developing world? Will Asian Tigers and African Lions use wireless communications and new big and open data systems to leapfrog legacy infrastructure and reap digital as well as demographic dividends? Or might we be overestimating the reach of modern technology? Could new solutions and their diffusion patterns inevitably widen the digital divide?

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Why Do RCT in ICT4D When You Can A/B Test?

Recently, D. Jerome Martin tweeted that he was happy that 50% of USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures grantees were conducting randomized control trials in their interventions. He felt it was a move in the right direction, that big data drives big impact. I disagree.

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How Indonesians Are Using ICT and Social Media for Disaster Management

This is cross-posted from Discover.ISIF.Asia a new website looking at ICT use in Asia and the Pacific. Subscribe by email to get more posts like this. Indonesia’s Internet penetration isn’t impressive – only 15% of its population is online. However, Indonesia is the fourth populous country, and 95.7 of its users who are online, are on social media (IPRA, 2013). 60 million Indonesians are on Facebook, trailing only the USA and India in total number of users, (Techiasia 2012, WeareSocial 2014)

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The Best Practices in the Use of ICTs in Development Are…

How are advances in communications technologies driving transformational change in development? United Methodist Communications recently published a discussion paper to help answer this question and to give ICT practitioners a list of the best practices in the use of ICTs for development. You can download the paper for free here. First, rising access to modern technologies is for the first time connecting millions of people around the world. In many parts of the world, access to a mobile phone is the first connection to a modern communications technology, leapfrogging over landlines, computers, and other technologies that preceded mobile phone access in the developed world.

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How to Ensure Long-Term Sustainability for a Computer Lab

Thanks to funding from the Internet Society Community Grant Program as well as from the Information Society Innovation Fund (isif.asia) a computer learning lab has been established at the Chuuk Women’s Council! Our goal in establishing a computer lab in the Chuuk Women’s Council (CWC) is with the aim of empowering and connecting, with ICT, the women of Chuuk State, in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). The Chuuk Women’s Council is an established umbrella organization for the different women’s organizations across Chuuk State, which promotes women’s leadership, education on health and gender issues, environmental conservation, practical skills-building for employment opportunities, and the preservation of traditional and cultural crafts. Given the existing strengths of the center and the breadth of the programs already on offer, we believe that the technology of this computer lab will serve to complement and enable this organization that is already extremely successful in its non-technical endeavors. In planning the computer lab, we looked at five key ways to assure long-term sustainability: Computer Hardware (Rugged, Portable, Low Energy Usage, Good Performance & a Webcam) Software (Office Software, Typing Aid, Basic ICT Skill Modules, & Virus Protection) Internet Access (WiFi, Bandwidth) Training (Basic ICT, Email, Web Searching, Office Software) Support and Maintenance (Shares, Onsite, Software/Hardware Repair  & Remote Troubleshooting) With our solution requirements and guidelines, a plan was developed and agreed upon with project partners

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The Moral Dilemmas of E-Waste

E-waste is growing. Computers, phones and other electronic devices are increasingly being discarded, as StEP’s e-waste world map shows. Planned and perceived obsolescence make us buy more of them, we discard them when we consider they are not useful anymore, but there are no adequate recycling mechanisms. As a result e-waste is piling up. The different approaches to e-waste management can be presented in the form a dilemma: A) E-waste contains hazardous elements.

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Is High Impact Digital Learning Possible in Schools without Electricity?

Elementary school students use the adapted interactive whiteboard to bring new light to learning. CyberSmart Africa’s vision is to provide an effective and highly scalable solution for digital learning in sub-Saharan Africa – including schools without electricity. Admittedly, this is a big vision. How is it possible?

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If You Could Have Unlimited Broadband, What Would You Use It For?

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Let’s take a moment to dream. Let’s imagine that you could have unlimited, high-speed broadband Internet access at a reasonable price or even for free, or could give it to your beneficiaries constituents. A Google Project Link for your very own use. What would you do with it? When TechZim asked this question recently, the responses: Ranged from those that want to consume more content (education, entertainment, social, business), those that would use it to create more content, those that would use it to host content more efficiently, to those that would share the connectivity

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Mobiles for Development Partnerships are Still Hard!

I am Kristen Roggemann, and at the recently-concluded GSMA Mobile for Development Summit, GSMA mWomen was thrilled to host a spirited discussion on the opportunities and challenges facing partnerships in the M4D sector. In what was a frank exchange between representatives of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), NGOs and ecosystem partners, some key lessons – and lingering questions – surfaced: Key lessons: State the obvious and keep stating it: There was some hesitation in the room over articulating things people felt were ‘obvious’, such as working with the right partner team and ensuring you have a strong business case before approaching an operator. These lessons and others are crucial for the entire stakeholder community to state and restate throughout the partnership process. While it might seem obvious, NGOs and MNOs continue to struggle with these foundational tenets of partnership formation – and thus we are not done stating them: Lessons for NGOs approaching MNOs: First impressions matter: do your homework on the MNO to ensure you know their strategy, targets and timelines Having a benchmark matters: prove you’ve done it in another country Get clear on your approach: if you go to CSR folks with a commercial pitch, they will send you to the commercial side, and vice-versa Donor-dominated markets are crowded with NGOs wanting to work with MNOs – ensure you have a clear articulation of the business value you bring to the MNO with your partnership offering Lessons for MNOs working with NGOs: Timelines at NGOs are often slower than at MNOs, so plan accordingly When you’re building a VAS, NGOs can add value in terms of content and market knowledge NGOs face an issue of have the social mandate to work across MNOs in a country, so network exclusivity could be challenging Lingering questions: From the NGO perspective: what is that threshold level when you should approach an MNO? At what point in your service does an MNO pitch make sense

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What Are The Top 6 Barriers to ICT4Edu Success in Secondary Schools?

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Go ahead, name them. Yes, count them off with your fingers. I bet you can name six in less than 60 seconds. You probably got to 16 or 26 in that time period. Bonus points if you add your list in the comments section.

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How to Use Mobile Phone Network Data for Better Development

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The UN Global Pulse has published ‘Mobile Phone Network Data for Development’, a primer on how analysis of Call Detail Records (CDRs) can provide valuable information for humanitarian and development purposes. ‘Mobile Phone Network Data for Development’, is an accessible synthesis of a growing body of research on mobile phone data analysis in development or humanitarian contexts. The prime explains three types of indicators that can be extracted through analysis of CDRs: Mobility: As mobile phone users send and receive calls and messages through different cell towers, it is possible to “connect the dots” and reconstruct the movement patterns of a community. This information may be used to visualize daily rhythms of commuting to and from home, work, school, markets or clinics, but also has applications in modeling everything from the spread of disease to the movements of a disaster-affected population.

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