ICTs for Development

March 30, 2008

The good and the bad

Filed under: Uncategorized — anoushrima @ 10:46 pm
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The good news is I stumbled across another great website on the topic of mobile phones for social change. Similar to MobileActive.org which Prof. Bar had introduced us to a few weeks ago, this one is called ShareIdeas.org. It features case studies and “how to” guides.

The bad news is that even though mobile phones have enormous potential for social change, and development, and reconciling the digital divide, we must be aware of its potentially serious health risks…

The Independent (among most other news outlets today) has the story: “Mobile phones could kill far more people than smoking or asbestos, a study by an award-winning cancer expert has concluded. He says people should avoid using them wherever possible and that governments and the mobile phone industry must take “immediate steps” to reduce exposure to their radiation.”

Yikes.

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March 9, 2008

“LifeLines Education”

Filed under: Uncategorized — anoushrima @ 11:32 am
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Here is an example of a new project involving mobile phones which aims to assist teachers in West Bengal. It’s called “Lifelines Education”.

Some excerpts from a recent article in OneWorld.net:

Using an innovative mix of telephony and internet, this phone-based service helps teachers working in remote areas with critical instructional aid while also linking them up with a network of educational experts.

…Covering 13 panchayats, 164 villages, and 571 schools, the LifeLines Education has been a boon for Bhattacharya and thousands of other teachers.

…LifeLines Education is an extension of OWSA’s LifeLines for Agriculture service that has been functioning with considerable success in north and central India since 2006.

“Voice is the most powerful medium to leverage information service delivery in communities where literacy and language are barriers. We wanted to help the rural farming community by linking voice to web technology, thus giving ordinary people the chance to get answers to questions that are key to improving their lives” said Naimur Rahman.

I like the idea of supplying information through voice/phones as that helps resolve problems of local language content on the web, and cuts out the need for any software/PC training which often stands in the way of a person seeking information. This may be a good example of “appropriate technology”

I would be interested to know what kinds of questions teachers will have when calling the “educational experts”, and if those experts really don’t mind taking the time out of their day to answer the call. The article doesn’t go into any of those details, though it does allude to a similar program for Agriculture which has been successful.

February 5, 2008

Diversifying Participation in Network Development

Filed under: Uncategorized — François @ 12:26 pm
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Those of you coordinating the class sessions on Low-Cost Technologies and Mobile Phones ought to look at the recently published “Diversifying Participation in Network Development“. Some of the chapters would make excellent readings for those weeks. Sections 1 and 2 are particularly relevant:

“The book is divided into three sections. The first, entitled Affordability and Use, opens with a study on affordability – definitions, analysis and issues. This is followed by two demand side studies, the first focusing on mobile use by the poor; and the second assessing communication expenditures across four developing countries. The final chapter in this section reports on a survey of ICT use by SMEs in eight African countries.

Section 2, Models to Extend Participation in Network Development considers microfinance, smart subsidies, community owned microtelcos and the extension of research networks. The countries used to highlight these alternative approaches include Bangladesh, Nepal, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Ghana.”

See the book’s table of contents

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