Facebook’s Free Basics Incubator

Facebook and its initiative (now called ‘Free Basics’), have faced their fair share of criticism, but I’m guessing that neither is going away anytime soon. So, here’s something that may be of interest to folks working with and/or designing mobile tools for lower income populations or those with lower end phones. Praekelt Foundation is partnering with Facebook on an open source toolkit of technologies and strategies that will open the Free Basics platform to more organizations and/or tech developers to adapt existing services or create new ones for distribution through the web and the Free Basics platform. Praekelt Foundation will be running this incubator for Free Basics. It will provide 100 social change organizations with tools, service and support worth a total of $200,000

Photo from Daniel Agee

Community Survey: Use of Digital Clinical Resources

Digital clinical resources are on- and off-line tools that are used in the context of medical education and/or care delivery with the overarching goal of Read More

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Prevention of sexually transmitted infections using mobile devices and ubiquitous computing

Background: Advances in the development of information and communication technologies have facilitated social interrelationships, but also sexual contacts without appropriate preventive measures.


Using short-message-service notification as a method to improve acute flaccid paralysis…

High quality acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance is required to maintain polio-free status of a country.

What to do when the yelling stops?

I’m reading two books in parallel right now – Ben Ramalingam‘s ‘Aid on the Edge of Chaos‘ and Kentaro Toyama‘s ‘Geek Heresy‘. With both books I’m finding myself regularly pausing for a nod of approval or a wry smile. Both books are spot on in their identification of the issues – Ben in global development more broadly, and Kentaro in ICT4D, a sector/field/discipline/specialism of global development. A while back when Bill Easterly published his ‘Tyranny of Experts‘ I started to wonder what impact his previous book – ‘The White Man’s Burden‘ – has had on the practice and policy of global development.

Should ICT4D Be Sidestreamed or Mainstreamed?

Around the time of the MDGs, ICT4D became the focus for a critical mass of activity; a “sidestreaming” approach that saw specialist ICT4D units arise in a number of international and national organisations. Following the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), this was largely mainstreamed, with specialist units being disbanded or shrinking, and ICT4D expertise seen as diffused into the main development sectors. There is a logic to mainstreaming – if done right – in ensuring integration of ICTs into a broad range of development goals. But there are also many dangers of just mainstreaming, as I have previously summarised: You lose the focus for learning about ICT4D; You hide or downplay technological innovation which can be a source of motivation and hope, and a lever for change; You lose sight of the ICT sector and digital economy roles in development; You silo ICT into individual development sectors and thus miss the technology’s cross-cutting, integrative capabilities; And there is no “Development 2.0” or other vision for ICTs as a force for transformative change. So alongside mainstreaming, there needs to be some sidestreaming: retaining and supporting specialist ICT4D units within the UN system overall; individual UN organisations; international development agencies; national development agencies; national governments; international NGOs; etc.

We’re (part-time) hiring!

Late last year we secured angel investment for an exciting new kind of mobile giving app. Called altruly, we’re looking to reimagine how people give, manage and monitor their personal giving portfolios. App development started last month and we’re looking at early summer onwards for an official launch. There’s a holding page up on the altruly website, but we’re holding back on releasing more information until nearer the time. As part of our preparations for the earlier Beta release, we’re looking for some help building a database of projects and causes people will be able to support through the app.

Please Register Now: ICTforAg 2016 – New Technologies for Smallholder Farmers

June 10th – Washington, DC – Register Now ICTforAg 2016 will bring together +275 thought leaders and decision makers in agriculture and technology from the international development community and the private sector to examine how new innovations can empower smallholder farmers, and the entire value chains that support them, through the use of information and communication technologies (ICT). Please register now to explore new ICT solutions that can boost the productivity of both smallholder farmers and agriculture value chains, and discuss other possible ICTs, including traditional media platforms, agribusiness IT systems, and extension agent support technologies. Our draft agenda includes the following lightning talks and breakout sessions. Be sure to register now to experience these first-hand on June 10th. We expect to sell out this week and those that are tardy will be on a wait list.

Course on social and new media for crisis management

From 11 to 15 April 2015, the ICT4Peace Foundation conducted an ENTRi certified training programme on a variety of new media tools and platforms used in the collection, presentation, verification, and dissemination of information. 22 participants, from as far afield as Sudan and Iraq, as well as from Europe and Asia, attended the intensive programme, held at SWISSINT in Stans-Oberdorf, Switzerland. As noted in the course description, This course was designed to introduce its participants to a variety of digital media tools and platforms used in crisis contexts.

Problems as symptoms

When I started out in development I had no idea what I’d be able to do to help solve the huge, complex problems out there. That lack of certainty – and an absence of obvious answers – turned out to be a far better starting point than I imagined.  After a trip to Zambia in 1993 to help build a school, I knew immediately that my work in IT and finance in Jersey wasn’t the right career for me and that I wanted to spend the rest of my working life doing something more meaningful. But that was all I knew. At that stage I didn’t have a skill set that was particularly useful to international development, so there was no obvious quick and easy way in. Instead I set out on an extended period of learning, one where I spent as much time as I could living with, working with, and supporting the communities and causes I wanted to help – everything from a few weeks helping build a local hospital in Uganda to a year working in rural conservation in Nigeria.

UN and ICT4Peace engage with private sector on responding to terrorist use of ICT

ICT4Peace is pleased to announce the formal launch of its joint project with the UN Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) on Private Sector Engagement in Responding to Terrorist Use of ICT. Through the project, ICT4Peace and UNCTED will work with the private sector and civil society to deepen understanding of current industry responses to terrorist use of their products and services, particularly with regard to content and-operational related issues and identify practices and experiences. The ultimate objective of the project is to establish a forum through which these same practices and experiences can be discussed and shared with a greater number of actors.

Welcoming HXL Version 1.0: A breakthrough in humanitarian information exchange

The ICT4Peace Foundation congratulates OCHA on releasing the first version of the Humanitarian Exchange Language (HXL). The Foundation worked closely with CJ Hendrix and Andrej Verity, both visionaries who were able to see how HXL could change the information exchange landscape in humanitarian contexts, and far beyond.

Life in full circle

In both my books – The Rise of the Reluctant Innovator from 2013 and Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation published this March – I make no secret of my early struggles to find meaning and purpose. Back home in Jersey, for a period approaching a decade from my mid-teens, I went through the motions doing what most people around me were doing – working in a well-paid but totally unfulfilling job. It was a fairly dark time, but one which I thankfully stumbled my way through. Part of my strategy at the time was to go on long drives in my beloved TR7 – quite a feat on an island the size of Jersey. As most people my age did I’d play my music loud, putting together compilation tapes of some of my favourite thought-provoking, sometimes gloomy, music. In 1986, like many people, I found myself caught up in the buzz and excitement of a new album called So by Peter Gabriel (famous for a number of hits including Sledgehammer, Don’t Give Up and Big Time)

Best practice begins in the classroom

In The Rise of the Reluctant Innovator and my more recent book, Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation, I dedicate more than a few pages to emerging best practice in technology-for-development projects. While we certainly need as many bright minds as possible turning their skills, energy and attention to solving many of the problems in the world, their efforts should be respectful to the communities they seek to help, and properly guided in order for those efforts to have the greatest possible impact and chance of success. But if you step back for a moment, it defies logic that someone should try to solve a problem they’ve never seen, or don’t fully understand, from tens of thousands of miles away. It’s hard to argue that they have the knowledge or qualifications – even the right – to attempt such an audacious feat. Yet that’s precisely what’s happening in many universities across much of the developed world multiple times each academic year.

A phone of her own: How mobile access can change women’s lives

Link to original: A phone of her own: How mobile access can change women’s lives

Updates on using tech for peacebuilding & peacekeeping | March 2016

Updates on using tech for peacebuilding & peacekeeping from October 2015 to March 2016. Download it as a PDF here.

Countering Violent Extremism & Mobile Advocacy in Myanmar

Sanjana Hattotuwa, Special Advisor at the ICT4Peace Foundation, was invited to take part in Tech Camp 2016, held at Phandeeyar, where he talked about and trained on mobile advocacy and activism strategies. Calling on the work engineered in Sri Lanka around election monitoring, civil society mobilisation, voter education and civic media, Sanjana talked about how mobiles were used to bear witness to violence, promote democratic debate, dissent and also foster interest in voting.

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