Cooperation 2.0 Gijon, day 3 – Round table: mobile ICTs for development

Participants:

Merryl Ford – Manager of the Emerging Innovations Group of the Meraka Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

Kentaro Toyama – Assistant Managing Director of Microsoft Research India (MSR India)

Oleg Petrov – Coordinator of e-Development Thematic Group of World Bank

Jan Blom – Director for Nokia Research Center – India.

Stephane Boyera – W3C

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Aspects that have emerged:

  • For many people the web browser on their mobile device is the door to the internet
  • 3 core points: Issues of communications infrastructure, deployment, cost of mobile devices
  • There have to be well-designed technologies to serve the user
  • e-Health, e-Education, e-Governance

Merryl

Focus on use in mobile phones in schools

2006: ways to integrate mp in teaching

  • what can you do with your cell phone? voice call, sms, run application, access the web, mms
  • concept of an audio wikipedia – information on how to join the school
  • platform audio-wikipedia
  • sms with a keyword to a number, system called back and read the article to that keyword
  • worked extremely well
  • kids discovered how to use the device immediately
  • educational use – student podcast
  • not only access – contribution
  • students contributed to audio wiki

even poor children have access to powerful phones

applications are important, because connectivity is not necessary for them
project: creating surveys on the PC and frame it for mps
successful project: based on mixit – South African instant messaging service
now 10 mio. users
set up on top: service for mathematical questions, helping learners
a lot of stuff developed in the educational sector can be transferred to other levels
also: development of open source tools

Kentaro

Will take the position of skeptic for this panel

There is an immense hype around mobile phones

It’s important to put development first and not technology

  • This is restricting yourself
  • Many problems can be solved in other ways
  • There might be no technology solution
  • Unless you are constrained to the technology you better leave it undetermined
  • No matter how much technology is provided, this will not foster development if no capacity building is offered

There are more ICTs than mps or PS

  • Community radio
  • TV
  • Low level devices, combinations with paper

Oleg

Mobile phone is the newest vision of the ICT toolbox so it’s naturally that there’s excitement

There’s a lot of reasons to be enthusiastic

Mobile is the most powerful ICT we have – especially for the poor

  • We don’t have a better tool so far
  • All other technologies don’t reach the bottom of the pyramid

Of course we should keep perspective

Development sector is often slow – so enthusiasm is something to embrace

Knowledge sharing is important – workshops on mps

  • Good to avoid mistakes
  • Best practices

Mobiles can the poorest people access to finance

Mobile for better governance

  • complaining about corruption on mobile phones

Also agriculture & health field

The World Bank is joining the bandwagon on this – so there should be sharing of knowledge & experience

We cannot ignore the potential

We need to find a new expression – e-development, effective development – to show we focus on development, not on ICTs

Work with vendors, operators & governments to frame the surrounding

Let’s have a partnership on mobile for development – moving to the next level

Jan

Bangalore – taxi driver

  • never used a PC before, didn’t know email
  • but he had a mobile phone

Nokia does a lot of work on development

  • recently launched a project to help health NGOs to collect data on the field and get response with GPS data
  • services for agricultural sector – sms as backbone, launch in India soon

Research at Nokia

  • Bangalore
  • multidisciplinary team
  • role of technology in terms of empowering
  • what can be done in the field of mobile?
  • sister lab in Kenya

Example of research:

  • combination of mobility and location specific information – LBS
  • in the west: info about restaurants …
  • in an LDC: more fundamental needs & motivations
  • governments are not very tranparent
  • disease based info takes very long – 1-2 month lags until info reaches local hospital
  • how to decrease this lag?

Example

  • map of Soho, London
  • Cholera transmitted through contaminated water – visualizing on a map
  • correlation of death cases & contaminated pump
  • 150 years ago

Now every citizen can collect this kind of information

Visualizing local information

Project: comfort zone

  • Upload comfortable/unconfortable information about a place
  • trial in Bangalore

Another project

  • health radar
  • collecting disease information and centralize it
  • feeding back to health-NGOs and hospitals

Stephane

Approach: looking at what we see in the field

Technology is just one more tool

If you bring them new opportunities perhaps they use them or not – could change their impact

It’s important to provide local existing organizations with as many tools as possible

Mps are available & cheap & therefore have a lot of potential

Oleg

Mps offer drastic opportunities to do things differently

Technology has to be integrated in design , otherwise the impact is lost

We can’t take technology for granted

It’s important to be informed about technology

Merryl

What’s already in the hand in the people, what are they already using?

Not everything needs to be solved with mps, but many things are already and people use it

Jan

Methodological challenge: how to get immersed in the community?

Many have difficulties to understand local people – which methods should be used?

Kentaro

Hype in mps similar to telecenter hype

Many examples of projects constrained to mobile phones because it’s so hyped now

“We want to do something with mobile phones” – but there is no way to do it sometimes

Reach of mobile phone

  • Agree with that, nothing else is even close
  • but reach is not development
  • it’s not enough
  • it’s a weak reason
  • radios have even greater reach, TVs

Q & A:

Najat Rochdi

The reason why it’s ICT4D was to make a difference ICT as a sector and the efforts to develop the sector. Driver: we need to do more and to do better.

One big mistake that is always present: we start talking a lot about technology, we forget talking about development – what is it about? what do we want to achive? there is no single answer;

Our duty as ICT4D “agents” is to be aware what’s going on in the development zone – awareness – so we can turn it in information we can share to help them to come up with the most approptiate tool.

The right message here is: we have to be aware about what is available – but we have to keep in mind that our duty is to provice our partners with a choice.

6 years ago we didn’t have Microsoft and Nokia addressing development issues. Let’s work together in a transparent and proper way.

?

There is a demand at the end user level – how can we get those to ask us to hep them? What about the governments? How can we provide our help?

Oleg

People are at least asking for ICTs – even if they ask for the wrong tools.

Jan

What is the right model? Ethnographoc methods? Let the people themselves come up with the solutions – grass root level.

Manuel

Users point of view: it seems like the picture gets more complicated

MPs get function rich and more expensive, PCs get better and cheaper – how come? Our tasks as ICT4D specialists is to inform responsible persons (governments) what the best choice is.

Make up of best teams is multidiscipinary – does it make sense to create an inter-institutional approach?

?

Dark side of mobile hype

Mobile operators are one of the most exploiting comapnies in the world – they are evil

Poor people pay much more for their calls than rich people

The industry is smart & opportunist – we have to deal with it

It’s no liberalized sector, poor quality of services, monoploists

In terms of “development first”

Where does the money go to? Where does the information go, can you handle it?

Upscaling is useless unless the backend to manage the inormation is not in place

Implementing mobiles can be implementes without the government – that’s what’s exciting

But development always wants to go large scale – although small scale would be more successful

?

Confusion of the idea of “needs” of communication

That development is in the hand of mulitnationals – who try to boost their profits

Mobile telephony is also smoke and mirrors

  • In grassroots communities in Latin America above 3000 meters don’t work any more

Increased competition decreased prices

I don’t see why in schools there have to be so many mobile phones

  • There are still problems with mobile phones – messages don’t arrive
  • Mobile technology myth

Stephane

If we upscale, a lot is missed

Oleg

How can we collaborate?

We don’t know enough to be really helpful – at least the World Bank

Knowledge management at this stage is very important

  • Forming a network around the knowledge issues
  • That’s the most urgent thing right now

?

Do you think stadardizing batteries and chargers might help?

Stephane

It works – people can charge everything with everything

Electricity problem is solved in innovative ways

It’s not a bottleneck

Cecilia Torres

Development is complex and now ICTs arrive – basic needs are still unmet

ICTs influence young people and change their way of life

They could be used to preserve tradition, but they are not

First we have to think about development and then about technology

Merryl

A mobile is opening up the world to children

How can it be controlled?

It’s necessary to develop value systems in using ICTs

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Cooperation 2.0 Gijon, day 3 – Round table: mobile ICTs for development
was published on 12.02.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Cooperation 2.0 Gijon, day 3 – mobile phones for human development

Mobile phones for human development – Stephane Boyera, W3C

Presentation of Stephane Boyera

Stephane Boyera:

  • W3C mobile web for Social Development
  • Web for Society Program of the Web Foundation
  • EU-FP7 project Digital World Forum

Mobile phones:

  • In December 2008: 4 bio. subscribers
  • change the way people work, communicate, live
  • People offer their work with their m.p. number – makes them flexible
  • but no evidence that the development challenge is addressed

ICTs have changed the Developed World

  • work, meeting, movement

ICT4D promises to bridge historical divides

Issues:

  • Connectivity (devices, bandwidth)
  • Information Availability (relevant & useful services)
  • Information Accessibility (too expensive, language, illiteracy)
  • Without addressing these issues, ICT4D is useless

Last 15 years:

  • focus on connectivity – telecenters
  • no sustainability
  • hard to replicate (legal issues, hight cost)
  • hard to scale up
  • relying on unstable governments – limits the potential of ICTs

What can mobile phones bring?

Minimal connectivity & computing power worldwide

  • it’s possible to focus on new, mobile, innovative services (e-agriculture, e-health)
  • people start to think big – scalability

Bottom-up approach

  • empowering people – now they can contribute and act instead of only consume

Why is that important?

  • it’s the only way to make services scalable – few people in development agencies vs. thousands of NGOs
  • people can start businesses themselves – entrepreneurship & innovation
  • governments are not that important any more – there is put pressure on the government for transparency

Challenges:

  • Capacity building – creating expertise on mobile phone technology locally
  • Make tools available – free & open source, easy to use software
  • Raise awareness about the potential of mobile technology and the easiness to create new content/tools

Current focus: on information availability

For sms, there have to be a lot of prerequisites fulfilles

To make all people benefit:

  • Address the needs of illiterate people or low reading skills
  • Local languages
  • Digital literacy – teach people how to search & use content and services

Technologies:

Mobile phone: “Swiss army knive” – a lot of services

Today: sms

  • easy setup, available, free reception
  • issues: high cost of running services, only text, interoperability between operators

Next generation:

Mobile web:

  • free & easy development, powerful interface, access to knowledge in the internet
  • issues: availability on mobiles, cost

Voice:

  • Natural way of communication, easy to use, everywhere available, flexible
  • Issues: high expertise required, usability, technology

No “one-for-all” device

Next steps

Community building

  • development agencies, local people, academics, NGOs, private sector

Explore local needs

  • field studies, pilot projects

Lower access barriers

  • illiteracy, usability, internationalization

Empowerment

  • easier development & deployment

Mobile phones is a way to reach the people & they are available in the field

But:

  • Expensive
  • Constrained
  • Also other devices necessary – low cost laptops, broadband infrastructure

Conclusion

  • Mobile technology has the potential to meet the ICT4D hopes & make significant impact
  • But next steps: concerted effort of all communities, focus on local needs, bridging the gaps between people, empowerment

Q & A:

Telecenters can also be a complementary service – let’s combine services. What about mobile services for internet access?

  • I agree, inclusing approach is substantial
  • Internet access: we have to understand what it means that people access the web via mobile phone – different interface, constrained
  • Linking your PC to the internet via a mobile phone is possible, if there are PCs available

Comment – internet access & mobile technology are equally important because you need access at the institutional level, not just private level.

How big is the challenge of interoperability? Are there enough standards? Where should they be established?

  • Each technology has a different level – moving from one platform to another is hard
  • On the mobile: making the mobile browser an open standardized tool is a challenge
  • It’s also an issue of power – monopolies
  • Voice is already standardized, but is lacking the open source community
  • Developing applications on the mobile – there is nothing standardized
  • Middle layer: Java stack

One thing that is missing: a lot has to be invested in science and technology – high level innovations, not just applications. There is some kind of technology fetishism.

  • It’s correct, work is primarily on application level.

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Cooperation 2.0 Gijon, day 1 – best practices

As Ismael is blogging from the other room (Notes of Ismael on Coop 2.0 best practices session), I thought I would give him a hand and cover the sessions in this room 1 here.

The sessions are about best practices in existing ICT4D projects.

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CEDDET – La Fundación Centro de Educación a Distancia para el Desarrollo Económico y Tecnológico

Objective: contribution & cooperation for development – ICT4D

Basic tool: knowledge management throught the usage of ICTs

Exchange of knowledge between Spain and Latin America

2 types of activities

  • online teaching
  • virtual networks of experts
  • no model, they should find their own track for development

Target:

  • toplevel civil servants
  • experience of 5 years
  • all kinds of sectors – which have an economic repercussion

Achievements:

  • more time & geographical flexibility
  • increased number of experts
  • p2p communication – exchange of experiences

Weaknesses:

  • evaluation
  • therefore training is also longer
  • shortage of technological resources
  • not applicable to all types of knowledge – e.g. presence required

Work with ~50 institutions, implementing online training courses

Average age – 39 years, 15 years experience

Feedback by assessment by trainees

After 7 years

  • 449 training courses
  • more 10 000 civil servants
  • 16 networks of experts with > 4000 members

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UshahidiJuliana Rotich

Started in January 2008 when in Kenya after the elections there were riots

Blogs were an important source of information during that time

Ory Okolloh started the project – visualizing information about these riots

  • create an online archive about the incidents
  • create a way for everyday Kenyans to report incidents
  • show where the majority of violence was occuring

Three ways to enter information to the web

  • Mobile
  • Email
  • Directly over internet

User generated content is due to its amount at least as interesting as content created by professionals

A little later:

  • DR Congo – Ushahidi in French
  • Engine for Al Jazeera Labs – War on Gaza, incorporating Twitter reports
  • Peace heroes in Kenya – positive incidents

At the beginning it was all volunteer work – the funding came later

The whole projects is predominantly based in Africa – programmers from Malawi, Ghana, …

If it works in Africa, it works everywhere

Partner with FrontlineSMS of Ken Banks to automate incoming sms-reports

Lessons learned:

  • mapping accuracy and value of geolocation
  • data poisoning – danger of wrong information and intentional misinformation
  • verification is difficult but by partnering with (hyper)local NGOs that could be achieved
  • it’s not only about gathering data – create a feedback-loop with sms & rss alerts; make those customizable
  • offline (newspapers, radio), online (blogsphere) and mobile (here: FrontlineSMS, but also other possibilities) strategy

Q & A:

What about the cost? How much does an sms cost?

  • It can get really expensive

People pay anyway?

  • It has come down since then, but it would be great to partner with the mobile phone companies

In offering “heroes” it was difficult to create specific tags – how difficult is it to replicate this process for organizations which are not as tech-savy? Would you provide support?

  • Right now, there is a Beta version which can be downloaded and there the categories can manually defined. For the customization PHP knowledge is required. So it’s not that difficult. The tool itself is very intuitive. It’s also possible to use different map providers.

Do you design only for citizens? How are you funded?

  • Future: Mass collaboration
  • Funding: first 5 months – all volunteers, no funding. July 2008 Humanity United donated some money, but still Ushahidi doesn’t rely to heavily on funding.

Would funding make a difference? Would you expand the tool? What would you do with 4 mio. $?

  • Growing the the community of supporters
  • support more technology (sms chat, …)
  • Geo-RSS – notifications dependent on location
  • Freedom Fone integration  – Audio -> SMS

– With 4 mio. $ we would make a very robust application which would run on every mobile and provide an online system and filter the data semi-automated

– Or crowdsourcing crisis response – how many NGOs, volunteers are in that area and willing to help? Moving from crisis reporting to crisis response.

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Cooperation 2.0 Gijon, day 1 – best practices
was published on 10.02.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global, south asia
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Update from Gijon

Just a short update from Gijon, where we are right now at the Cooperation 2.0 meeting at the Universidad Laboral (picture on the right).

What’s really impressive here is the content sharing platform integration – the video of a speech is being put online immediately (Cooperation 2.0 youtube channel), there’s live twittering (Cooperation 2.0 Twitter channel – regrettably in Spanish), FlickR (Cooperation 2.0 FlickR account) and as Ismael Peña-López is present, there’s also live blogging (ictlogy.net).

Just this minute I finished my own presentation on Web 2.0 in ICT4D organizations with the following slides.

The talks so far have been very interesting, the opinions range from very enthusiastic about ICT4D to very cautious: The audience is partly the same as at Network Society Barcelona last October.

The overall topic of the meeting is “Innovation” and all the speakers so far pointed out the need for innovative applications and projects – not necessarily new ones.

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Update from Gijon
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