Author Archives: MobileActive

Practice-Based What? Teaching mHealth to the Next Generation

One of the main reasons I joined the Doctorate of Public Health (DrPH) program at the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) in the United States was because of the philosophy of practice-based learning the school employs. This approach at BUSPH is certainly not limited to the DrPH program – it is the mantra the school uses for teaching public health. So, like any other great approach that has merit, we chose to bring this this type of education to mHealth and the world of mHealth to BUSPH students. The next generation of public health practitioners will benefit from the chance to learn about a field that is emerging as an important tool in public health programs. But it’s not just about learning how cool this topic is – it’s about learning how to help countries and programs integrate mobile technology in a smart, data-driven and informed way.

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The emergence of mobile-supported national health information systems in…

Author: Ime Asangansi, Kristin Braa Publication Type: Journal article Publication Date: Jan 2010 Publisher/Journal: Studies in Health Technology and Informatics Publication language: English Abstract: A major challenge for national health information systems in developing countries is their scalability and sustainability at the lowest levels where primary health care is delivered. This paper contributes to the discourse on how national health information systems can scale to the lower levels and how mobile technology is supporting the collection, handling and dissemination of data. But can mHealth go beyond the ‘hype’ and visions it has come to be associated with? Using an action research methodology in a long-term action research project, the usability and then scalability of mobile solutions for large scale national health information systems are studied.

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Crowdmapping by the (Sobering) Numbers

Editor’s Note: We have, in the past, written about crowdmapping using mobile tech for submission of stories and reports. Crowdglobe recently analyzed data from Ushahidi and Ushahidi Crowdmap instances to better understand the quantity and quality of data submitted to 12,795 Crowdmaps in over 100 countries. This guest post by Tiago Peixoto, an expert in the use of mobile tech in participatory budgeting and citizen participation, reviews the Crowdglobe report. It is reposted here by permission. Tiago blogs at Democracy Spot and tweets as @participatory.

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Things are changing at MobileActive. When we started in 2005 at a legendary event that we hosted in Toronto, Canada, there were few practitioners and few projects but many ideas on how to use mobile tech in development. We had identified about 100 people worldwide who were actively using mobiles in their social change and social development work and brought 40 together. Since then, the field has exploded and there are now thousands of projects and tens of thousands of people who are actively integrating and using mobile phones in some way or another in their projects.

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Mobile Maniacs: More mobile stats from Praekelt

Last year, the Praekelt Foundation, a South-African based philanthropy that works on mobile project, released a short video overview of the mobile technology landscape in Africa. It’s one of those great “Did you know’ videos – with a high production value. The video for 2012 is equally as entertaining, focusing on the ‘mobile maniacs’ of Africa. Take a look and enjoy! Featured?: Yes Featured on homepage?: Yes

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Safety on the Line – A new report by the BBG and Freedom House on Mobile…

The US Broadcasting Board of Governors and the US organization Freedom House recently collaborated on a new study on mobile safety in 12 countries. The study, Safety on the Line: Exposing the myth of mobile security (PDF), sets out to investigate two distinct areas: 1. Testing of specific mobile applications (with a strong focus on circumvention tech) vis a vis their security and usability; and 2. a very small survey of users in 12 countries about their use and security challenges of mobile telephony.The BBG, as the parent of news outlets such as the Voice of America and Voice of Asia, is, of course, keenly interested in delivering content to various countries without a free media, so the report emphasizes circumvention tools and barriers to online content, and focuses on countries of particular interest to the BBG. The study is peculiar.

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Mobile Data, FTW! The GSMA Development Fund Steps It Up with The Mobile…

One of the issues we all struggle with as we are working in mobile tech for social change and development is the lack of reliable data on mobile use, penetration, and costs. The GSMA sells a service, Wireless Intelligence, that provides detailed data on mobile subscriptions worldwide as well as country- and carrier-based information. Unfortunately, it is priced out of reach for most NGOs and places limitations on the use of that data.The ITU that should, under its mandate, provide accurate and timely mobile data, but does not. Data from the ITU is late and often available only at a cost that is too steep for many NGOs.Now, the GSMA Development Fund is trying to address this gap with the launch of a new date site, theMobile and Development Intelligence (MDI) project. The MDI contains about 70 metrics and the ability to tabulate, graph, map and export the datasets with country-level dashboards for 140 developing world countries.

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Open Congress, Just a Call Away (Brought to You by the Sunlight Foundation)

The Sunlight Foundation, always pushing the envelop on tech and open government in the United States and increasingly worldwide, launched a new service today: Call to Congress. The number 1-888-907-6886 (tol-free in the US) allows anyone to learn about how a lawmaker is voting on bills and raising their money for re-election. As the announcement states: “Being connected with your lawmakers’ Capitol Hill offices and getting details on legilsation is now as easy as ordering pizza…”The service is essentially an interactive-voice responce system that allows a user to navigate a menu tree to search a member of Congress by postal code. Lawmakers can add their biography, their top campaign donors, recent votes and allows a caller to be transferred directly to the Reprentative’s office.

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Liquidity Is King: Mobile Savings Vehicles For Poor Individuals

This is the final post of this three-part blog series co-authored by Lisa Kienzle, Ali Ndiwalana,Olga Morawczynski and Ignacio Mas on saving with mobile money using deferred payments or “Me2Me” transactions. Thefirst postexplored user reactions to deferred payments and to goal-based accounts, gathered through focus groups. Thesecond postlooked at rewards that help individuals set aside money to meet financial goals. Today, the authors discuss ways to encourage individuals to keep money in their savings vehicle(s). During the focus groups in Fort Portal, in western Uganda, people quickly grasped the notion of deferred payments as a means of saving

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mHealth to Improve TB Care

Author: Interactive Research and Development Publication Type: Report/White paper Publication Date: May 2012 Publication language: English Abstract: ‘mHealth to Improve TB Care’ is a new report demonstrating the enormous potential for mobile health (mHealth) to revolutionize the fight against tuberculosis (TB). Mobile phones provide TB care with much needed impetus, and initiatives intending to reap the benefits of this nascent field are launching all across the globe. In sharing the experiences of 31 TB-focused mHealth initiatives, this report seeks to lay the foundation for what will become an extensive knowledge-sharing and partnerships network benefitting all stakeholders in the field of TB, both old and new. View the report at: E-mail the authors Research Paper – Link to or Upload Paper URL:…

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mClerk: Enabling Mobile Crowdsourcing in Developing Regions

Author: Aakar Gupta, William Thies, Edward Cutrell, Ravin Balakrishnan Publication Date: May 2012 Publisher/Journal: ACM SIGCHI Publication language: English Abstract: Global crowdsourcing platforms could offer new employment opportunities to low-income workers in developing countries. However, the impact to date has been limited because poor communities usually lack access to computers and the Internet. This paper presents mClerk, a new platform for mobile crowdsourcing in developing regions. mClerk sends and receives tasks via SMS, making it accessible to anyone with a low-end mobile phone. However, mClerk is not limited to text: it leverages a little-known protocol to send small images via ordinary SMS, enabling novel distribution of graphical tasks.

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Mobile Security Survival Toolkit for Activists

MobileActive’s SaferMobile projectis running two trainings at the Internet at Liberty conference on mobile security with colleagues from IWPR, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and UC Berkeley. We’ll be demoing common mobile threats and provide hands-on tips on how to better protect yourself. We put together a set of resources in a ‘mobile security survival kit’ for activists and journalists with practical tips and advice. They are all online at but we are also compiling here in a Primer Toolkit on Mobile Security.

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Mobile Phones and Rural Livelihoods: Diffusion, Uses, and Perceived Impacts…

Author: Lee Martin, Brandie, Eric Abbott Publication Type: Journal article Publication Date: Nov 2011 Publisher/Journal: Information Technologies and International Development Publication language: English Abstract: To successfully use mobile phones to aid development efforts, understanding the impact of the social structure on mobile phone adoption, uses, perceived impacts, and reinvention of uses is invaluable. Interviews were conducted with 90 mobile phone-owning holders of small-to-medium-sized farms, 50 women and 40 men, actively involved in agricultural development-based farm groups in Kamuli District, Uganda. Respondents indicated use of the mobile phone for coordinating access to agricultural inputs, market information, to monitor finanancial transactions, and to consult with agricultural experts. Over time, the number and variety of agricultural uses increased among all users, indicating that adoption occurs for a few key purposes, but that uses will be added or reinvented to meet changing needs. This study identified a number of unique uses, including storing local market trends in the calendar, using the speakerphone function for group consultation with agricultural experts, and taking photos of agricultural demonstrations Location Countries: Uganda Research Paper – Link to or Upload Paper URL:…

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Cash In, Cash Out Kenya: The Role of M-PESA In The Lives Of Low-Income…

Author: Stuart, Guy, Monique Cohen Publication Type: Report/White paper Publication Date: Sep 2011 Publisher/Journal: The IRIS Center at the University of Maryland, College Park and Microfinance Opportunities Publication language: English Abstract: This study examines how low-income Kenyans use M-PESA, that country’s pioneering mMoney service. The study focuses on (1) the value of M-PESA to low-income individuals; (2) the most likely areas for M-PESA’s future growth; and (3) whether M-PESA can serve as a platform for financial services beyond remittances.Taken from the transactions of 92 individuals over eight months, the study found that “cash is king.” mMoney’s share of transactions was less than 6 percent, compared to more that 94 percent for cash. M-PESA is still primarily used to send money home, usually from urban to rural, and cash out almost always happens quickly, often the same day the remittance is received. Respondents did not appear to use M-PESA as a de facto savings account, but the services was an important part of their coping strategies for unusual large expenses, particularly hospital bills.The study looks at ways M-PESA usage mimic cash usage patterns. It also examines the “e-money loop” – the number of times an e-money unit is transferred between being cashed out.

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