ICT4D.at 10-Year Party

Last week on Wednesday, 31.10. we had a little party in Vienna to celebrate the NGO’s 10 year anniversary. We tried to think of every current and former members to invite – and also all Austria-based supporters, partners and friends (I hope we didn’t forget anybody).

It was nice to get in touch again with some people we haven’t seen for a while – like Christoph, who used to work for OLPC and is now busy with teaching computer basics to kids with his NGO TechnikBasteln or Paul who coordinated the ICT4DMZ project for us and is now super busy in his crowd investment company CONDA. And it was also great to get to know new people interested in the ICT4D field.

The setting was rather informal. Paul and me did a short intro speech and then we had two bands playing – the band I’m in and Georg’s band. Chloe, Georg and Paul had made an effort to create a poster for every project we did so far before and we decorated the party venue with these posters. Thanks a lot for that! You can download the project posters under this link.

Thanks a lot also to Margarete and her friend Sarah who prepared a buffet for us!

We collected some donations from our guests and will give them to Noah to support his efforts in spreading progamming skills with Python and Django in Ghana.

Thinking of our activities in the past 10 years brought back a lot of memories. It’s amazing that we still have our blog after all this time and that all the old posts are still available – a great resource to see how we and maybe also the ICT4D field have changed in these years. It made we want to write another blog post looking back these 10 years, but that will take some time.

On the weekend following the party we had another vision meeting with several members and this brought a lot of energy and insights – but we will write about that also in another post.

For now I’d just like to express my thankfullness to everybody who every contributed to our NGO and helped shape our path in the past 10 years. Happy birthday ICT4D.at!

Tags: , , ,
ICT4D.at 10-Year Party
was published on 06.11.2018 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
No Comments AddThis Feed Button

Much more than an app developers camp…

Ohrid is located on the shore of a big lake with crystal clear water in the south west of Macedonia. It bears a diverse ecological system and is millions of years old. The UNESCO accepted Lake Ohrid as Natural World Heritage Site. Tiny fish tickle your body when you keep still for a while. It is a holiday paradise and i wonder why i’ve never heard of it before.

There we met last weekend to choose the 3 winning projects of an international app development project called mYouth 2.0 which provides space for youth that is already in the field of new technologies in order to develop further their potentials and ideas.

4 participants from Asia, 4 from Africa and 4 from Europe pitched in front of a 12 member expert jury.
The jury chose one winner of each continent.
The 3 winners are invited to the European Youth Award festival in Graz in November 2018.

 

photo (c) Mladiinfo

It took me several days to write this recap. Why? Cause it was such a valuable experience that i didn’t want to cut it down to a few words. Nor would some pictures show what really fascinated me about this event. I’ll give it a shot…

We spent 5 days together. More than 30 people from 3 different continents: East African Region (Kenya and Tanzania), West African Region (Senegal and Ghana), North Asian Region (Vietnam and Hong Kong) and South Asian Region (Singapore and Philippines) as well as the European Region that involves Poland, Germany, Austria, Macedonia and Romania  – I thought of justing naming a few exemplary countries but it is so impressive if you make yourself aware of this diversity. Just being in the middle of this vibrant community was already worth travelling to Ohrid. I felt an excitement that i experience seldomly these days. A feeling that there is a vibrant and positive world beneath frightening news and fascist governments. That there are people who are actually making a change by helping their local communities and therefore bringing valuable ideas to the global society.

And the contestants do exactly that. Some of them experienced hard times in their young lifes and decided to protect people in the future from those experiences. Some of them observe problems in their communites and decide to do something about it. Some have a smart idea and want to develop it further. They get creative and use mobile technologies to help for example pupils who want to learn more about the world but simply don’t have learning material. Or to make dental service affordable for people who can’t rely on a health care system. Or to give an effective tool to people who want to make music but have no idea where to start – Spoiler: Those are the winners 😉

Jurying and choosing those 3 winning projects was tough. Many of the presentations where very convincing, several of the pitches where brillant, all of the projects are worth to be supported. It took us hours to discuss and decide. Sometimes i ask myself if competitions like this one are just wrong when all of them deserve to win. But then again it is a big boost for your motivation if you strive towards a goal.

The competion itself tough was just one aspect of the whole event. We coached the contestants and their projects and we learned a lot from them as well. So it was in fact a win-win situation. And we had time to spare. Some of the most interesting and deepest conversations emerge while you have lunch together or enjoy the sunset on a hill in Ohrid.

There would be so much more to say about the event, about technological aspects, about how important a proper design process is for an app project and so on but i think i already implied what was most important for me:
People from different cultures, of various ages, with different backgrounds came together in a peaceful, respectful and joyful way. We worked together, supported each other and simply had fun. It was organised by a careful and dedicated team (thanks so much Mladiinfo!). Jumping into this intercultural experience was one of the best things i did recently.

To be fair: It was an almost perfect setting and it is not easy to organise such intercultural events. But i think you can scale it down to your daily life as well. Even short contacts between persons with different cultural backgrounds can be interesting and authentic if you kick yourself in the butt and step our of your comfort zone. Give it a try! You won’t be disappointed. And it doen’t matter if you speak the same language or not.


Much more than an app developers camp…
was published on 30.09.2018 by Georg Steinfelder. It files under east africa, east asia, eastern and central europe, Europe, global, middle east and north africa, south asia
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
No Comments AddThis Feed Button

Lend a support to enable smallholder farmers in rural Ghana access IT & financial services

Farmerline recently launched a 30-day Kiva campaign to raise a $100,000 loan to connect 6,000 smallholder farmers in Ghana to financial services, market information, weather forecasts and quality inputs. We need your help to reach our goal today July 18 in a few hours!

In 2016, we launched our first campaign with Kiva and were able to raise $50,000 to connect 1,000 smallholder farmers to high quality and affordable farm inputs at 20 – 30% below market price. We want to extend our reach!

As a supporter and friend of Farmerline, your contribution would go a long way! As little as $25 would ensure a supply of farmer inputs for a month at a 1 – 2 acre farm, while a $75 loan would ensure a rice or vegetable farmer has input supply for four months and is able to focus on ensuring consistent quality yield.

To learn more about our Kiva campaign and become a lender, visit Farmerline Kiva campaign.

Click the video below to hear from a few of the farmers we serve!

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Lend a support to enable smallholder farmers in rural Ghana access IT & financial services
was published on 18.07.2018 by Worlali Senyo. It files under global, sub saharan africa
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
No Comments AddThis Feed Button

2018 IFIP WG 9.4 and an Interactive Workshop about Sexual Harassment via Mobile Phones

In the heart of the beautiful Tirana, the capital of the surprising modern and dynamic Albania, the IFIP WG 9.4 conference took place. I was invited to present my work and also co-chair with Tim Unwin a paper and demo session regarding Equality and Safety issues with Digital Innovations. Tim and I wanted to mix up the session a bit to try out something unusual.

Before the conference, we started to discuss the issue of sexual harassment via mobile phones, after I read his blog post concerning the findings of their research. I proposed a, as we call it now, flawed solution to the problem. I designed a simple mobile application to register sexual harassers and warn victims. I wanted to start a discussion. Quite quickly all the drawbacks of potential abuse, legal implications, data management/ownership, etc arose. So, we got stuck in finding a good solution to empower victims of sexual harassment (via mobile phones) in developing countries.

We then decided to bring the topic to the table of the conference and use the participants to brainstorm for other and foremost better solutions. The goal was to break my programmed engineering thinking and use the diverse minds of our demo and paper session track to come up with something much better. The goal was not a technology, but anything which could empower the victims. The topic was intentionally set very broad to not limit the flow of ideas. This was also challenging, since there were no boundaries and many questions arose during the brainstorming. Furthermore, solving this complex in just workshop is unrealistic, but we were willing to try our best.
We formed groups, I introduced the concept of the Brainwriting-Pool (see our IFIP workshop slides for an explanation) and we tried to generate as many ideas as possible. We only had 45 minutes to discuss and brainstorm together. While some groups kept stuck in great discussions, others were quite productive and proposed many ideas of what we could do. One of the participants opened her heart and shared her story of harassment via mobile phones, which gave us a much better understanding of the topic. This once more showed the importance of including the targeted user group in the design process. Of course, we did not solve the issue in the 45 minutes, but many key points and ideas were stated. Ideas were put out to

  • create an anonyms social network for victims to connect with others and find help.
  • To visualize the harassment to show that this is a big issue and to illustrate that victims are not alone.
  • Make it easier for victims to defend themselves by offering information material on how to legally fight back. Illustrate the rights of every person.
  • When harassed by mobile phones, then the harassment is actually documented by call logs and text messages. This offers a new way of using this as a prove of harassment against the harasser and visualize the attack.
  • Translate sexual rights and women rights into pictograms and make them accessible to everyone.
  • Better illustrate that sexual harassment is not the fault of the victim and that they have a right to dignity.
  • Create mobile awareness campaigns.
  • Provide a quick help by offering options to victims to protect themselves.
  • A place where victims can share their story anonymously. To make it first possible to talk about the incident in a safe environment and also help others to understand that they are not the only ones going through such a difficult time.
  • Provide call centres with no charges and ensure anonymity.
  • A self-defence Drone you can launch to film your harasser and document the incident.
  • Better offer statistics about incidents to trigger a discussion and create awareness.
  • A “one button click” to connect one victim to another to reach out for help and understanding.
  • Create a SMS based one/two-way communication with empowering and motivating messages. Also offer a smart phone application.
  • Implement a general filter to block harassment content entirely form your platform. Have a “Right to delete” content on the Internet.

Many more issues, problems and ideas were discussed and mentioned. The possibilities and challenges are there, the sensitive topic of sexual harassment is too often ignored and our workshop underlined that we need to put a spotlight on this issue. ICT can do good, but also too often bad. It is our responsibility to also discuss the dark side of the technologies we promote and to be aware that ICTs are not always shiny and golden.

All of this was possible due to Kutoma Wakunuma and Sirkku Männikkö Barbutiu who also presented their profound work in our track. They agreed beforehand to shorten their presentations to give us the stage to carry out our workshop. I would like to again express my gratitude and recommend reading their valuable contributions:

Kutoma Wakunuma: Hey women can play dirty too! Social media Building and Construction – A tale of empowerment in the developing world

Sirkku Männikkö Barbutiu: A Facebook Account of Ones Own

I would also like to thank Endrit, the conference chair, who gave us the opportunity and a big thank you to Tim, for supporting me in my work.

Tags: , , , , , ,
2018 IFIP WG 9.4 and an Interactive Workshop about Sexual Harassment via Mobile Phones
was published on 09.07.2018 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under eastern and central europe, global
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
No Comments AddThis Feed Button

Learning to code: Programming with Pocket Code

Margarete is in close contact with our friends at the TU Graz who work on several tools for students. They developed Pocket Code, a mobile Android application to teach programming on the phone itself. You can create Android apps on an Android Device by simply putting blocks of code together. The principle is similar to Scratch, which in contrary only works on desktop devices. Wonderful concept and definitely worth to check out! They also develop iMoox a MOOC software and recently started to offer their content in English language. They offer now a new course where you can learn more about Pocket Code, check it out here.

The target group are children aged from 12-14 years, but also for teachers who would like to introduce programming in their classrooms.

Course content

With the help of Pocket Code, particularly children will gain initial experience with programming. A simple and visual user interface enables a playful implementation of your own ideas.
The course is designed for children and young people (age group 10-14 years) as well as teachers of all subjects.
The main content includes creating your own games, interactive animations and apps with Pocket Code.
It is up to the children whether they take the course on their own or together with their parents.

Learning goals

Participants of the course are able to implement their own ideas with the help of Pocket Code. At the end of the course the following objectives should be achieved:• I can handle objects
• I can work with the different commands of Pocket Code
• I can solve problems using Pocket Code
• I can create my own program and save it as an app
• I can download and modify another program

Prerequisites

As it is a course for beginners, no special previous knowledge is required.
• Start date 04.06.2018
• 5 week(s)3 hour(s)/week

Register Now!

Tags: , , , , ,
Learning to code: Programming with Pocket Code
was published on 26.05.2018 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe, global
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
No Comments AddThis Feed Button

Mobile Learning Week 2018

Mobile Learning Week is UNESCO’s flagship ICT in education event. Digital skills are critical for jobs and social inclusion in a universality connected world – an estimated 95% of the global population living in an area covered by at least a basic 2 G mobile cellular network [MLW Concept Note].

MLWs provide a platform to share and expand knowledge, innovations and good practices in mobile learning on an international base. It is an excellent event for exchanging knowledge about achievements in skills targeted to Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4). The conference is co-organized by UNESCO and International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialized agency for ICT.
Topic of the 8th MLW, scheduled from 26-30 March 2018 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris was “Skills for a connected world”, focussing on digital skills and competencies for a connected economy and society.

Presenters for the 17 workshops were selected from a wide range of international organizations, NGOs, governmental agencies, research, projects and digital skills development programmes. While Margarete participated in former MLWs, this year she was accompanied by Paul Spiesberger. Furthermore, Margarete was invited to participate in workshop-presentation together with Prof. Mohamed Ally from Athabasca University, topic: “Developing Females and Teachers’ Digital Skills in Ghana”. She reported our project implemented from 2012 -2014, pointing out the very successful follow up developments organised by students participated in our workshops. It is important to note that girls represented quite often the majority of participants in our workshops. This can also be observed when looking at their blogs, videos and photos. The outcome of our engagement in Ghana shows that inequalities and gender divides can decreased with similar activities in digital skills programs.

Download Margarete’s presentation here.

Included in Margarete’s presentation was also a follow up project of former participants. In cooperation with Django Girls ICT4D.at’s former workshop participants organize workshops on programming in Python, especially tailored for women. Attendees don’t need any previous knowledge about programming and there is no age limitation. Coaches, speakers or organizers are volunteers; one female and one male tutor are former participants in the project presented. Additional activities were organized as Barcamps, workshops for students of nearby schools etc. Read more here.

Margarete and Paul took their chance to discuss possibilities with experts from UNESCO (Steve Vosloo) and representatives from all over the world for future projects in partnership with ICT4d.at. They gained insights in outstanding projects and programs in various countries. Discussions about successful and independent activities of students brought up new visions and ideas, how the group in Ghana could be encouraged for further developments on a larger scale.

Next to Margarete also other outstanding project were presented eKitabu which “Delivers accessible digital content for quality education” and Room7 – a network for coding schools, are two great examples. We also discovered a very successful project from Brazil, Laboratoria, which trains “Female tech talent from Latin America to the world”.

Adapting MOOCs for local demands seems to be a promising option. ICT4D.at will continue with cooperation and work on this issue to increase the chance for youth in Ghana to develop digital skills independently. Visions are continuously discussed via Skype with of the Mobile learning Society. Together we continue to inform our readers about further activities in Ghana.

Tags: , , , ,
Mobile Learning Week 2018
was published on 08.05.2018 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe, global
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
No Comments AddThis Feed Button

Holistic development and multi-stakeholder engagement with a pinch of systems theory; a recipe for acknowledging complexity

 

A day like today 10 years ago I decided to quit my job in IBM. I no longer wanted to wake up every morning and work 10 hours to make someone in the US richer and richer. I had volunteered in Peru and Mozambique during the summer holidays and I knew I wanted to work in development. I had however witnessed how private companies can influence policies, move governments and transform the lives of people in developed and developing countries, and it was that sweet spot between development and the private sector that was most appealing to me.

Luckily for me, the development industry has undergone a profound change over the last decade and has moved closer to that sweet spot. Old funding models and narrow focused interventions are no longer the norm. Donors are increasingly requesting Public Private Partnerships where private companies need to provide co-funding for the implementation of a program. Nowadays development objectives (including a theory of change) and business model design (including pricing) are two sections of the same project proposal. An agricultural program now needs to put women equity at its heart, focus on nutrition and food security while achieving economic, social, technological and environmental sustainability. This holistic approach can promote transformational and long lasting change, but it is also much more complex to develop, manage and evaluate than “old school” donor funded programs.

Having managed a small component of a multi-country (14) multi-million (24) multi-partner (40) program that aimed to integrate agriculture and nutrition goals using mobile phones, while attempting to demonstrate ‘impacts at scale’ and value for money, I can tell you: getting to the end goal is not a walk in the park. While I was still involved in the program I was approached by a researcher from Ottawa University, interested in analyzing this complex program using a systems approach to understand the relationship between its numerous sub-components and its different development goals. The result was an academic paper that has recently been published in Food Security (Springer), which will hopefully influence donors and academia to revisit their approach to complex development programs and to ensure that the sweet spot between development and businesses becomes sweeter in the years to come.

 

Here I leave you the abstract and a link to the paper.

International development programming is increasingly integrating agriculture and nutrition goals, while attempting to demonstrate ‘impacts at scale’ and value for money. These multiple goals create complexities, both from a conceptual viewpoint and a more operational perspective. This article uses systems theory to examine the mobile Nutrition program (mNutrition), which aims to improve nutrition, food security and livelihoods for rural women and children, through mobile phone-based information services.  The paper specifically uses mNutrition’s work in Malawi as a case study. The systems approach reveals that, as a complex system with numerous sub-components and tensions among different goals, the mNutrition program tended to minimize connections between its sub-systems (such as content development and mobile service development processes) in order to speed up movement towards the global planned outcomes. We argue that this is likely to have multiple impacts on outcomes, including on overall effectiveness and the relevance and sustainability of the mobile message content.

Tags: , , , , ,
Holistic development and multi-stakeholder engagement with a pinch of systems theory; a recipe for acknowledging complexity
was published on 27.02.2018 by Alvaro Valverde. It files under global, sub saharan africa
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
2 Comments AddThis Feed Button

Erase all kittens! – spending quality time at the European Youth Award Festival 2017

I am no newbie to the EYA. Four years ago Paul, me and two friends of us won the Award in the category “Go Green” with our App/Game Woody. So i already knew the organising team and over the years we kept contact. I was a juror in 2016 for the first time and it was so much fun that i was looking forward to do it again this year…

In my last post i talked about our network as a small and stable yet dynamic family. I can find many of these qualities in the community of the EYA. Although in a different way. It is large and shrill and posh and everyone seems to be busy being the next big Start-Up CEO. In an interesting workshop, conducted by two wonderful friends from Syria, my group amongst others noticed that we all lack a significant resource: Time. For ourselves.
I want to compare the well organised and tight festival program with a river steadily and strongly flowing. Sometimes you can find people floating next to you at the same velocity. I had many such encounters throughout the last two days. And although it sounds stressful, in fact it has always been energetic and pleasurable. As well interesting and demanding. Personal background stories mixed up with social business models. Example: My dear friend Attila and i just met again after one year and had to catch up in a 10 minute coffee break which ended up having a conversation about how the factor “efficiency” can affect design in a very negative way. When the bell rang we were still standing in line for coffee but almost forgot the river running towards the next workshop.

In the afternoon the winning teams presented their projects to the jury and the festival audience. After last year’s experience i knew in advance that our mission to choose the overall winner would not be easy. The rules for each contestant: exactly 3 minutes of presentation time and 3 minutes of Q&A by the jury. 17 projects and about 2 hours later we were all pretty much filled up with inspiring ideas … and we were exhausted. The contestants were free to spend a nice evening in Graz. For the jury the work just started at that point. At around 11pm and after a we discussed the presentations and projects we finally elected the overall winner.

The winning teams and the moderators of the EYA 2017

“Erase All Kittens” confused with it’s name but also won the hearts of many people in the jury and the audience immediately. As they state on their website: “E.A.K. is a revolutionary, online game that provides kids aged 8-14 with knowledge of both computational thinking and professional coding languages, to effectively prepare them for 21st Century degrees and careers.” Not only it was clearly the most innovative project but it was also the best presentation: I had no struggle at all to understand the concept and their goals within the 3 minutes (almost no questions needed). It amazes me how the team combines the logic process of coding with the ease of playing a fun game about kittens.

Here are the winning teams of the 9 different categories.

Erase All Kittens is the EYA overall winner 2017

In a big evening ceremony on the next day the winning teams were honored by officials and celebrated themselves afterwards. We all know how important partying and dancing is. Sometimes it feels like shaking of the weights of hard work. Especially after so many hours of conceptualizing, creating, designing, coding, calculating, marketing etc. I congratulate and thank the teams and the organisers for making it once more a special experience!

The European Youth Award is a wonderful source of inspiration and gives insights into the young social entrepreneur and start-up scene. At ICT4D.at it is nice and helpful to be part of this international network. I talked to several people about our work as an NGO and there might emerge collaborations in the future. What i definitely know though is that i will be happy to spend some quality time at the EYA again next year.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Erase all kittens! – spending quality time at the European Youth Award Festival 2017
was published on 03.12.2017 by Georg Steinfelder. It files under eastern and central europe, Europe, global, middle east and north africa
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
No Comments AddThis Feed Button

“Digital Innovation with Impact on Society”

Big words for a small NGO. Aren’t they? I am sure at some points we are innovators. Even big ones. And so yesterday i had the honor of representing ICT4D.at the UNIDO General Conference 2017. Before i go any deeper: This was definitely an interesting experience and it startet right at the entrance when the severe security measures reminded me of the international importance of the UNO. After receiving my badge i took a look around and was amazed by all the people from all over the world being busy keeping the nations united… And all this right in the middle of the well-known and cosy suburbs of Kaisermühlen in Vienna – surreal somehow…

 

The setting was simple: A round table, 4 panellists, 1 moderator and a small but interested audience. We were asked to talk about our work, our projects and our achievements. Our statements were followed by two questions:

  • Which problems are you solving?
  • How is it impacting society?

In our Vision Meeting recently we asked ourselves who we are and who we want to be as an NGO. And i also asked the other members: “What should i tell those guys at the UNO?…” And the coclusion was to go there without pressure and present ICT4D.at as what it is: A small and very precious family network. We don’t have many members but we support each other in a sustainable way. Once connections are established they are taken care of by our members in Austria and the World.
As it is stated on our website we believe in the empowerement of people through ICT. During my preparation for the event I went through former posts and weblinks and noted a few things:

  • tech will just support and is not the key to success – thinking of our Nimble-project online platforms have always supported the organising process in efficient and effective ways and therefore take some pressure of us so we can focus on our team relationships
  • if it’s not broken don’t fix it – we work not only as a team but also as friends and it feels like a family – it has always been like that in our NGO and we are happy to keep it that way
  • opportunities are endless for good programmers – with code people can create wonderful things, no matter were they live and the barrier to get access to crucial technology is relatively low – a wonderful example are Django Girls

So looking back at the two questions above i have an opinionated conclusion: We are solving our own problems by working on the problems in the world. Sometimes the entire world is small and ends at our front doors, sometimes it seems to have no ending. We are a stable yet dynamic group cause everyone can bring in ideas that will be reviewed and supported and we dont have to climb steep hierarchies within our NGO. Yet it amazes me that we collaborate globally. Thanks to ICT. We connect dots around the world for our impact on society.

Happy and thankful for the opportunity and experience i go on with my work by representing ICT4D.at the European Youth Award Festival in Graz this weekend as a jury member. Wuhuuu! Stay tuned…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
“Digital Innovation with Impact on Society”
was published on 30.11.2017 by Georg Steinfelder. It files under Europe, global
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
No Comments AddThis Feed Button

9th ICT4D Conference 2017 – From Innovation to Impact

ICT4D Conference Poster

A week ago, I had the pleasure to dive deep into the world of ICT4D at the 9th ICT4D Conference in Hyderabad, India. On short notice I got the confirmation for my ticket while being in Bangalore with one business card, no fancy shirts and an insufficient amount of underwear. So I booked a flight at the same day, the first hotel which popped up on the net (brick-wall-view as I found out later) and went cloth shopping at the airport. I also managed to shift some work load from my company and worked during coffee breaks on other things. I replaced business cards with a smile and pined my last one on my chest – so people simply took pictures. Busy and exhausting four days, but exiting as well. I would like to give here a short overview on what is going on in the world of ICT4D, summarize the talks I enjoyed and state my personal experiences.

Two topics were ubiquitous this year, agriculture and IT support for NGOs. This focus was already underlined in the keynote when one of the main sponsors of the conference, Microsoft, spoke about their engagement with ICRISAT – International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Topics. They use their cloud computing power and Cortana to provide weather forecast for farmers to communicate when to seed out or harvest (and more) to increase crop yield for farmers. The IT support aspect for NGOs was visible due to the high amount of companies offering technologies (hardware, software, data) in order to make their life easier or to collect/organize data in the field, which is also inline with the this year’s conference focus:

This year we focus on using data to accelerate achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

I would like to split this blog post into two sections. Firstly, I will give you an overview of talks and discussions regarding ICT4D projects I discovered. This will be just a peak of what was going on, most of the time more than 10 talks were happening simultaneously. Secondly, I took one full day to visit all sponsors and exhibitors at their stands and discusses with them their products, projects and ideas.

 

 

Projects, Talks & Discussions

Leveraging Tradition and Science in Disaster Risk Reduction in Mongolia
Erkhes Batbold
is a project with a goal to reduce the risk of dzud (a Mongolian term for a severe winter in which large number of livestock die, primarily due to starvation due to being unable to graze, in other cases directly from the cold) to herder communities and rural economies in Mongolia through on-demand weather information and increased local planning and risk reduction capacity.
They implemented a national wide SMS based weather forecast system to provide access for everyone with a mobile phone. The speaker underlined the lack of smartphones in rural areas and the importance of a demand requested system to make it sustainable in the long run. They interviewed users on camera to describe their positive experience to spread the word, which worked best for them. The speaker, Erkhes Batbold from Mercy Corps listed some helpful technologies they used to build the system: engagespark.com, darksky.net , ona.io and lts2sms.com. For me, this talk was one of the most interesting, since it is related to my research as well, and as they started to use a Android phone as a SMS gateway to forward the requests to a server and respond then with the weather forecast.
more

‘SMS Quicklearns’ enhances women’s parenting skills in Sri Lanka
Maria Berenguer & Divakar Ratnadurai
SOS Children’s Village Sri Lanka empowers women at grass-roots through mobile technology using “SMS Quicklearns” to enhance women’s parenting skills on the benefit of their children. The feasibility study showed high mobile penetration at the grass-root level and being mainly fishing communities needed cognizance on various social skills to assure a safe and caring home environment for the children. Text To Change Programme disseminates information on child-care, child rights & protection and managing family income with a view to change their behavior for the well-being of their children & families.
This project is as well SMS based and spread information via mobile phones. Users also had weekly meetings to discuss the received lessons which enabled access for mothers without a phone. They also had a trainer visiting the parents. These limitations made it only possible to work in closed groups, but the speaker stated, that they would love to open it to everyone – but as always, the budget is the limit…

e-Monitoring system: Strengthening government school monitoring system
Ruxana Parvin Hossain
e-Monitoring System specifically designed for the use by school monitors to improve the accountability and governance of public primary school system. To strengthen the government school monitoring system of Bangladesh, the Sponsorship program of Bangladesh Save the Children created an Android enabled school monitoring application based on the existing paper based school monitoring checklist and also developed a browser based school inspection data analysis dashboard with various analytical interactive reports. The data is public, the source code is close since it is very specialized.

Education & Livelihoods Track Panel: Learning-People, Processes or Platform
Chris Benner, Anindya Chattopadhyay, PS Gohil, Jodi Lis & Laura Moats
The panel discussed the process to bring education to people with the support of technology. Technology which can help you in your educational project highly depends on your user and your needs. It is crucial to put community and people first, the technology will just support you and is not the key to your success. The panel defined the following steps:
1. Identify and setup the platform/technology you will use.
2. Build up your content, use open resources or create it yourself
3. Implement the e-learning – this is the hardest part.
The discussion shifted then to MOOCs which can be helpful but very difficult to implement. Guidance and personal interactions are very important for beginners. The main problem with MOOCs is, that most of the time already educated users use the service and leave out the target group. They underlined that learning is a social process!
Furthermore, the panel stated that having test groups straight from the beginning is very important. The fact that it is almost impossible to get proper feedback from failed e-learning users. This is very challenging and they have no solution yet to reach out to these important group to simply find out why they failed. The last conclusion was to show the demand to the users. Create motivation by giving an insight what the learners will get from their education. Jobs and placement are most of the time the goal.

There’s no app for that: Preparing for a tech implementation
Aleksa Krolls, Piyasree Mukherjee, Frank Nankivell, Alexie Seller
Ready to implement a new technology — trade in the paper for smartphones, start administering surveys via SMS, transition to a new CRM system? Worldwide, social impact organizations are seeking technology solutions to better manage data, measure performance, report to donors, & address inefficiencies in programs/operations. When it comes to implementing a new tech tool, how do we gauge whether an organization is “ready”? What happens when the technology implementation – inadvertently or advertently – leads to upheaval in the organization’s processes? How can we ensure that technology is a tool underpinning quality delivery, with the focus on impact rather than on the tool itself?
Vera Solutions discussed with three NGO partners on how they worked together to implement a certain technology to support their work. Pollinate Energy, FMCH – Foundation for Mother & Child Health and Liberty Asia all used IT support to streamline and analyse their processes, collect information on the field and/or get more paperless. All agreed on the profound advantages IT can have. “Why do we need a new Technology” is crucial to ask straight from the beginning to really get the solution which fits best. Start with the people, not the Technology.

Digital Village Harisal: Connectedness is the Key
Prashant Shukla
The Maharashtra government and Microsoft have collaborated to develop a strategic framework for smart village adoption and to identify an impact-driven, public-private partnership-enabled implementation model to transform Harisal into India’s first smart village. Connecting a village to the Internet is one of the key elements to make a village smarter. This can be quite challenging due to the GSM coverage in rural areas and land lines are still rare as well. This project uses TV band white spaces – unused VHF and UHF TV channels that can be used to deliver broadband access over wider areas than possible using today’s Wi-Fi spectrum. They connected villages with this technologies and enabled better access to communication, health and education tools.

SESAMA – Mobile application to turn trash into cash
Mita Julinartati Sirait
Waste in the big cities has always been a problem and needs serious handling. Jakarta City every day produces 7000 tons of waste and only about 5200 tons can be transported to the final disposal (TPA) Bantar Gebang by 720 garbage trucks. Of the total trash, 47% is industrial waste and 53% of household waste with a composition of 67% of organic waste; 32.8% inorganic and plastic waste; and 0.2% other debris. In order to support urban waste management, WVI has developed android applications called SESAMA to connect residents with nearby waste bank and help the waste bank managing its administrative works. This application allows residents ordering picking up, tracking their waste amount and checking their money deposit in real time. On the other hand, the waste bank will be able to monitor the waste deposit amount, money deposit, customer’s data and trends of their transaction timely and regularly.

Play.Connect.Learn: Learning to read by playing with apps
Meenakshi Khanna
Play.Connect.Learn, is a digital app that was developed by Sesame Workshop India (SWI) to determine whether exposure to innovative, interactive digital reading content on smart phones would improve the reading skills of children in Grades 1 and 2 who are reading below grade level. SWI leveraged its library of materials to develop 3 packages of reading materials for the app. The app, developed in Marathi, is being used in 4 districts in Maharashtra by low income families. The app includes packages of stories, rhymes and games that become increasingly more complex in content and skills.
They stated that nothing can replace a good pedagogy, but the application is a good tool. Even parents started to learn and like the fact that they use the Sesame Street Puppets in the application. They acknowledged that children lean it many different ways and tried to offer different learning approaches in the application.

Feeding the world with Raspberry Pi
John Anker
The last talk I joined at the conference was about the wonderful Raspberry Pi. John Anker from the Catholic Relief Services simple introduced the mini computer and showed its possibilities. I use the Raspberry Pi as well in my work to teach computer science and attended the talk out of curiosity. The highligt was the Raspberry Pi operated anti mosquito laser gun – pretty cool stuff. I would also like to underline here that the Raspberry Pi is a very good computer for development work. Cost effective and fully operable – surf the Internet, create textual documents (and more) and program for just $30!

 

Sponsors & Exhibitors

a small overview of companies, NGOs and NPOs at the ICT4D conference:

esri – GIS Resources for Humanitarian Assistance and Crisis Response
Esri’s Nonprofit Organization Program provides conservation and humanitarian nonprofit organizations around the world with an affordable means of acquiring ArcGIS software and services for organized volunteer effort.
esri.com/nonprofit

Digital Globe – Space Imagery and Geospatial Content
analyses images and processes them for catastrophy management and are partners of Esri. They use the power of the crowed to provide necessary information. Ushahidi from the other side…
http://www.digitalglobe.com/

OMPT – Reducing Worldwide Poverty Through Video Education
provides projector sets with speakers to enable mobile video training. 2 hours of battery life are included, but you can charge the gear with a external battery or from your car to and teach anywhere.
http://www.ompt.org/

Quest Alliance – We design learning experiences that inspire and empower educators and learners alike.
Quest Alliance is a not-for-profit trust that equips young people with 21st century skills by enabling self-learning.
http://www.questalliance.net/

Mango Logic and D-Tree
Mango Logic offers a sophisticated technology to solve complex decision making. Everyone can create a decision tree and a mobile application without programming a single line of code. That’s what D-Tree is doing, they use the technology to provide better Decisions which save lives. D-tree International is harnessing the potential of mobile technology to improve the quality of healthcare provision in the developing world.
http://mangologic.com/ | http://www.d-tree.org/

Social App Hub – India’s largest repository of mobile Apps
Most of the software a NGO needs is already out there and they created a collection of apps for a social cause. Social App Hub helps to find IT solutions for NGOs.
https://knowledge.socialapphub.com/

Anudip – Empowering individuals through digital and workplace skills development
Anudip’s diverse training, mentorship, and employment support empowers marginalized individuals to change their lives by providing training for illiterate people to find a placement. The work directly with the people and use training centers equipped with computer and Internet connection.
http://www.anudip.org/

Akvo – Capture, Understand and Share
Akvo is offering mobile applications to collect data in the field and analyse the outcome. They also have very nice tools of measure water quality with a Android phone.
http://akvo.org/

Open – Security enabled Networks
provides networks in the field and ensure their security. The Swiss based company offers a portable server infrastructure to connect and control the data flow.
https://www.open.ch

Nasscom – Empower NGOs with Technology
NASSCOM Foundation, by leveraging the capabilities of the IT- BPM sector, is meeting the technology needs of NGOs so that they can: scale up operations, be more efficient, increase reach, deliver effective results; and hence realize the goals they are meant to.
http://www.nasscomfoundation.org

Diona – Mobility Solutions
transform mobile devices such as phones and tablets into tools for helping your NGO move closer to achieving its mission. Whether it’s greater efficiency, happier clients, more productive caseworkers, or tracking progress of your projects and clients for better outcomes, we work together to help make your mission happen.
https://ngo.diona.com/

Software Group – Finance
is a global technology company that is specialized in delivery channel and integration solutions for the financial sector, especially in the micro finance sector.
http://softwaregroup-bg.com/

aWhere – Agronomic Data & Agricultural Data Management
Data Management harnesses agriculture analytics to create unprecedented visibility and insight from farm level to national policy. Their algorithms create 41000 weather stations out of 87  Indian weather stations and support local farmers with their technology.
http://www.awhere.com/

Good Bye

Enregistrer

Tags: , , , ,
9th ICT4D Conference 2017 – From Innovation to Impact
was published on 28.05.2017 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under global, south asia
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
2 Comments AddThis Feed Button

« older posts |