A few years ago we opened our association for broader ideas than just ICT4D. We did not loose our focus as our active engagement in Ghana and Mozambique shows but we wanted to create a platform where people with ideas outside of the ICT4D context can also benefit from our networks and organizational structures.
Due to this shift we recently carried out the Nimble Building Days, where we got engaged with the Austrian Red Cross to support their efforts with the current refugee challenge in Austria. Lead by two of our members, Georg and Chloé, a three day workshop was carried out at the Kurierhaus, a refugee shelter in Vienna. It was a huge success (read more here) and resulted in a deeper cooperation and two further workshops in other refugee shelters.
Some thoughts went through my mind while getting in close contact with refugees. Since we – ICT4D development enthusiasts – most of the time talk about developing countries in a broader sense and how we can support them, we then in the end cooperate with local or marginalized citizens within the country and rarely the country itself or their representatives. It’s about the people, or more the citizens of a developing country and how we can empower them. Our goal in the end is then to support them by building up their own successful communities and infrastructures.
Implementing an ICT4D initiative in a rich country like Austria, which is seen as a developed country might seem a bit posh or superficial. But again, it’s not about the country itself, but rather the marginalized people in the country – like refugees, people who seek for shelter in Austria. These new inferior members of our society are mainly excluded from our communities and they (or more the general topic of how we should deal with foreigners in our communities) create political and social tensions. Austria and the European Union is struggling with the topic of immigration and it seems like we are not as developed as we think we are; whatever developed actually means. We use the term Information and Communication Technologies for Development since it was accepted by the international forums and is the most used and accepted term in scientific publications and project implementations . But the term Development is still criticized as Shose Kessi, a social psychologist at the University of Cape Town puts it profoundly :
I dislike the term ’developing world’ because it assumes a hierarchy between countries. It paints a picture of Western societies as ideal but there are many social problems in these societies as well. It also perpetuates stereotypes about people who come from the so-called developing world as backward, lazy, ignorant and irresponsible.
And this is also the case for Austria. It would be ignorant to put Austria with it’s high quality of life on the same step as Ghana or Mozambique but there are still marginalized people in this country where ICT can be used to empower them. Besides many more, we installed WiFi-Hotspots in two refugee shelters so they can access the Internet on their phones and to also connected donated PCs for studding within the Nimble Building Days. This was possible due to a cooperation with Ingenieure ohne Grenzen Austria, a partner organization of ours and we are grateful for their support. This simple ICT4D implementation here in Austria will hopefully empower these new members of our society to find their place, no matter how long they are going to stay.
We are stunned of this new development within our association, we would like to thank all of our partner for their trust in us and can’t wait to continue our cooperation with the Austrian Red Cross,
Ingenieure ohne Grenzen Austria and the refugees themself.
 Tim Unwin. ICT4D: Information and Communication Technology for Development. Auflage: 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Feb. 2009.
Connect and collect…
More than half a year ago we participated at the Helpathon TU Vienna. Can you remember? – An emotional rollercoaster at Helpathon TU Vienna
After winning the 2nd price we decided to continue the work on our concept. So we moved on and started to meet the organising team of the Red Cross Vienna to gather more information. Also we met the teams of two refugee houses in the Vordere Zollamtstraße and in the Lindengasse. Lots of photos and notes were taken, several interviews were made, overall we collected valuable inputs for our concept to become a really helpful system that enables easier communication between refugees and employees of the Red Cross.
A good talk can save hours of work…
Packed with impressions we returned to our desks and tried hard to figure out the next steps. We thought of the best possible way to pull off the implementation of an easy to use visual communication system. It seemed so clear in the beginning: Work out a concept, gather information, refine your idea and a raw diamond turns without a doubt into a perfect one. However we realized that there is in fact so much more to consider. What we did before was important investigative work but also just a scratch on the surface. And so after a really nice and intense meeting our small team decided to push the project to another direction.
An event to help those in need…
What we learned after hours of research was a wide overview of the variety of challenges the Red Cross faces every day in the refugee houses. Some are big, some are smaller but often the staff can’t solve even the smallest problems because they simply don’t have enough time or the problems are too specific. That’s why we came up if a new concept: Organise an event where volunteers and refugees work together to solve as many of those big and small problems as possible. And so six months after the initial event the foundation stone of the Nimble Building Days was laid.
The conclusion of a piece of hard work…
The Nimble Building Days are an event that gives us the opportunity to help people who where forced to leave their homes behind. The ones who received shelter are living in temporary refugee houses like the Kurierhaus Lindengasse. The Red Cross Vienna satisfies basic needs however they lack infrastructure like free internet access and the overall atmosphere of the rooms is rather spare.
Together with the inhabitants of the Kurierhaus and employees of the Red Cross we try to help those people and their families to live normal lifes again.
Now we are looking for support! Participate in the Nimble Building Days or make a donation! Send us a private message on our Facebook page or write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is our event page.
Our dear friend Anders made a short film to promote the event. It reflects the positive energy of our team. Enjoy!
Together, creative and effective for families in need!
Team Nimble is looking forward to hear from you!
The Helpathon is a Hackathon where participants focus on developing IT-solutions for people in need. This kind of event gained a new level of importance since more and more refugees from Africa and the Middle East are seeking shelter in european countries. It took place at TU Vienna throughout the weekend on November 14th and 15th.
Our freshly re-elected chairman Paul (member of the INSO and one of the organisers of the Helpathon) invited us (Chloé Zimmermann, Florian Sturm and me) to team up and try our best. Which was not easy for anyone in the beginning – just a few hours ago Paris was hit by terrorist attacks and the news spread like a shockwave. It was difficult to focus under these circumstances. But we tried hard and figured out a nice concept after talking to Ulrike Karpfen and Elisabeth Palugyay from the Viennese Red Cross and Jochen Petri from Train Of Hope. Because two thirds of us weren’t able to write code for an IT-programm we decided to take the exact opposite direction.
The idea: Provide a flexible information system for buildings and rooms that is easy to understand for both refugees and helpers.
The key: Well designed Pictograms which can be sprayed or sticked easily onto walls and also be rearranged quickly. Furthermore the pictograms can be downloaded from a website. New pictograms can be uploaded and users can recommend well designed pictograms. All pictograms should also have a positive “attitude”, which means there should not be any signs that show prohibitions. In our opinion it is better to show people in need what they can do instead of what they must not do. It may be a way to contribute to the well-being of refugees and prevent frustration.
Our credo: Doing it as low-tech as possible to make it useable for every organisation.
When an architect, an IT-developer and a graphic designer combine their skills there might be some chaos first but in the end something beautiful can happen. As the deadline approached on Sunday we felt the pressure growing but we didn’t give up. We finished in time and presented our idea to a jury next to 5 other teams. After a thrilling hour of waiting the result finally relieved us: 2nd place and 1000€ for the realisation of the project. A wonderful ending of this rollercoaster ride called Helpathon.
We are looking forward to the next steps of this exciting project! Stay tuned!
This Wednesday (10/14/15 – 06:30 PM) the Austrian chapter of Engineers Without Borders start with their series of lectures at the Vienna University of Technology. They call their educational program Technik trifft Entwicklungszusammenarbeit (Technology meets development cooperation) and will include several topics from sanitation to renewable energy, different projects in general and more. The program and the dates can be found here: http://www.iog-austria.at/veranstaltungen/vortragsreihe/
We are proud to participate within their lectures and we will talk about our last ICT4DMZ project in a 20 minute presentation next to other researchers of the Vienna TU. Save the date:
25th of October, 06:30 PM
at TU Wien Hörsaal BD 02 Getreidemarkt 9, 1060 Wien
We are proud to announce that two of our former student who worked with us in our last ICT4DMZ project were part of the OurMoz (Mauro Banze, Alfredo Muchanga and Félix Barros) team which won the World Bank’s #APPS4MAPUTO contest in Mozambique. Mauro and Alfredo gained in our lecture at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) a better understanding for mobile software development and design. Mauro said that in our courses he learned a lot about software design which also partly enabled their success. He describes their work as a
crowdsourcing Android app that would allow citizens to report problems in their communities and share relevant information with others.
They worked together with the Associação Fraunhofer Portugal Research (Fraunhofer Portugal) and they describe their cooperative output as follows:
The Android App developed within the scope of this competition allows the community supervisors to report situations detected on the field more rapidly; to consult geotagged events, according to a specific category or location; to validate the information submitted by citizens, as well as to give feedback about each situation’s resolution status, assuring that all information is integrated with participatory monitoring platform ntxuv.
The Application’s stability and usability, the reliability of the information communication, the App’s positive response to the needs of the Participatory Urban Service Monitoring for Maputo Municipality, as well as its capacity to motivate the supervisory workers, were among the qualities acknowledged to the group of young research students Mauro Banze, Félix Barros e Alfredo Muchanga, from the OurMoz team. Moreover, these were the evaluation criteria applied to all solutions submitted to the contest and assessed by judges a panel, which comprehended representatives from several major organizations, such as the World Bank, the Swedish Embassy in Maputo, the mobile communications company mCel, the startup Ideario, and the company UX.
We are very happy and wish them all the best for their future. Keep up your awesome work!
A few months ago we supported Noah from the Keta Senior High Technical School to finance his drone project. We are happy to announce that the project was a success and the drone arrived at the school. Noah and his colleagues are already experimenting with their new flying technology, check out the pictures below!
But they are not stopping there. A new research project has started a few days ago and they need your support! They will use the drone to create a documentary on salt mining. Once again we support their awesome idea and call for your funding!
Check out their project here:
Due to our Digital media training for teachers in Ghana project in Keta we are in close contact to the Keta Senior High School. Local students want to start a new research project on salt mining the area and they are looking for your support!
“Our mission is to discover how salt mining is done over there and to listen to the various views of the people concerning the challenges they face in their effort to develop their salt mining.
We would learn about how salt is mine locally and develop ways to solve the challenges the miners face in other to enhance their work. Another aim is to discover some of the resource they have and to come up with a way to utilize them.”
To find clever students at the Keta Senior High Technical School is not that hard, but what Noah does is simply amazing. He is one of the most talented kids at his school and continues to work on our project in Ghana (with Margarete’s online support). Voluntarily engaging and working with his colleagues is naturally for him. They founded a “Mobile Learning Society” at the school, are experimenting with robotics (see photo) and most important: approximately half of the group are girls, which is not so common in other schools. Within his new project he and the the “Mobile Learning Society” publish Wikipedia articles and contribute with their work to the free online encyclopedia.
Currently he is collecting money for a drone to give people all over the world an insight to his work, life and great projects. With the drone they can get a better view from above. One of their first filming projects will be a report about salt evaporation in Ghana. Their experiments will be documented in a blog. All together it is a big step forward with the regard to STEM developments launched currently all over the world.
If you are stunned like us, the please consider to donate a small amount of money to his awesome project:
If you can’t, then please share his vision to reach as many people as possible!
We would like to say thank you and wish Noah all the best
Next Monday, 17.11. we will be holding a small presentation about the topic ICT4D at University of Technology Vienna. We were invited by the Austrian chapter of Engineers Without Borders to contribute to their series of lectures about different topics concerning technology and development.
We will give a broad overview of the topic and an insight in current development. If you’re around Vienna make sure to come by – it’s on Monday 17.11, 18:00 in the TU Wien lecture hall BD02a (Getreidemarkt 9, 1060 Wien).
Our member Margarete Grimus, together with Michael Pollak, a student from UT Vienna, is back in Ghana right now, following up on her previous two workshops at Keta Senior High Technical School. Here’s the links to posts about the two workshops:
This time, Margarete is (more…)