Smart Connect: a SMS communication appliance for rural healthcare

Title: Smart Connect: a SMS communication appliance for rural healthcare
Author: Eric Blantz
Source: ICTWorks
Date (published): 06/07/2011
Date (accessed): 14/07/2011
Type of information: blog post/article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"SMS’s reach and reliability, combined with its popularity among users, make it particularly attractive to those working on applications for the developing world, where Internet and smart phones are not yet widely available or affordable.
...
Enter Smart Connect, a “communication appliance” developed by PATH and Inveneo which uses SMS to improve the reliability and performance of one of the most important systems in all of global health: the medical “cold chain.”
...
We decided to make Smart Connect a facility based device. Even though it has many parts in common with a cell phone, it is constructed to be secured in place. We did this to improve security of the device, to ensure that the device was associated with the health facility, to allow it to connect with external sensors and to make it possible to connect to an external antenna for improved reception.

One of the first applications for Smart Connect is temperature monitoring of vaccine refrigerators. Refrigerators which regularly drop below freezing are quite common – so it is important to bring these to the attention of cold chain managers. Temporary power disruptions and breakdowns are also a problem since they lead to vaccines getting too hot.
...
Previously, refrigerator temperatures were tracked and recorded by hand with long delays in collecting the records. Now Smart Connect records the refrigerator temperature and sends out alert messages when there is a problem. Messages are sent to a web site and then automatically relayed to service technicians. A daily summary of refrigerator temperatures is also sent to the web site so that the manager can understand how well the equipment is functioning.

Beyond temperature monitoring, Smart Connect has the capacity to run a range of additional applications. For example, the Smart Connect deployment in Vietnam includes an application to track the use of vaccines so that that “stock outs” can be avoided. In the future, we plan for Smart Connect to be used with a bar code scanner to be able to read tags on vaccines when they arrive, and a printer to be able to provide receipts of test results to patients.

With Smart Connect we have seen that a small amount of communication delivered by SMS can have a big impact. By “thinking outside of the phone” we have created a custom communication device that meets the specific needs of rural health facilities and improves healthcare services in communities in Nicaragua, Vietnam and beyond."

Opening government : A guide to best practice in transparency, accountability and civic engagement across the public sector

Title: Opening government : A guide to best practice in transparency, accountability and civic engagement across the public sector
Source: Transparency and Accountability Initiative
Date (published): 12/07/2011
Date (accessed): 13/07/2011
Type of information: report
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"To help inform governments, civil society and the private sector in developing their Open Government Partnership commitments, the Transparency and Accountability Initiative (T/AI) reached out to leading experts across a wide range of open government fields to gather their input on current best practice and the practical steps that OGP participants and other governments can take to achieve it.

The result is the first document of its kind to compile the state of the art in transparency, accountability and citizen participation across 15 areas of governance, ranging from broad categories such as access to information, service delivery and budgeting to more specific sectors such as forestry, procurement and climate finance.

Each expert’s contribution is organized according to three tiers of potential commitments around open government for any given sector—minimal steps for countries starting from a relatively low baseline, more substantial steps for countries that have already made moderate progress, and most ambitious steps for countries that are advanced performers on open government.

REPORT BREAKDOWN

Introduction p3
Illustrative commitments & best practice p5
Aid p6
Asset disclosure p9
Budgets p11
Campaign finance p16
Climate finance p18
Fisheries p20
Financial sector reform p24
Forestry p27
Electricity p30
Environment p32
Extractive industries p37
Open government data p40
Procurement p43
Right to information p45
Service delivery p49"

"Voices 2.0”- Revolutionizing Participation within Development Cooperation

Title: “Voices 2.0”- Revolutionizing Participation within Development Cooperation
Author: Michèle Marin
Source: sdclan blog
Publisher: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation - SDC
Date (published): 12/07/2011
Date (accessed): 13/07/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"The genie is out of the bottle. Scanning the news reveals that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) such as mobile phones, Internet, Satellite television and social media are having an effect on events in the so-called Arab Spring. The “Facebook Revolution” is becoming a buzzword. Not sure how and why, click here.
Does this have any practical significance for our operational activities in projects or programs aiming to increase participation in socio, economic and political change processes? The answer suggested here is Yes. Traditional participation approaches referred to here as “Voices 1.0” are being directly influenced by the witnessed proliferation of ICTs rendering them more interactive “Voices 2.0”. This complimentary shift has direct implications for operational work throughout the project cycle.

Two important caveats on ICTs: First, let’s be clear that people, not technologies, are the driving forces within any transformational processes such as the Arab Spring. This echoes previous guidelines expressed including Gene Sharp’s classic “From Dictatorship to Democracy” . The novelty of ICTs, media and social networks is significant in terms of leveraging, amplifying, accelerating and possibly sustaining these forces of change unleashed by the people. It is this catalyzing role of these tools that is relevant here as this has practical implications for our work to enhance participation in economic, social or political processes. Secondly, there is a “darker side” to ICTs not to be ignored. Environmental and social issues such as electronic waste / and standards on usage of rare minerals in mobile phones and electronics deserve careful mentioning and monitoring.
...
A new SDC Working paper soon to be published titled “Deepening Participation and Enhancing Aid Effectiveness through ICTs and Media” examines why and how development practitioners can adopt ICTs and media for increased participation and better results into their daily practice. Taking a critical look back over 10 years of SDC program support within ICTs for Development, findings include:

(1) ICTs and media, if strategically integrated throughout development programs, can make a significant contribution

(2) Start thinking about information and communication needs, channels and media throughout the Project Cycle but most importantly in the planning stages for policy and project intervention

(3) ICT-enhanced “Communication for Development Methodologies” are worth revisiting

(4) Link ICTs and media to the organizational DNA of donor agencies in their standard operating procedures or instruments (i.e. Project Cycle Management, Sustainable Livelihood approaches)

(5) Develop the capacity of implementing agencies and partner organizations on “strategically using” ICTs to leverage their programs"

Technology a key tool in addressing environmental sustainability: ITU’s message to global climate change conference

Title: Technology a key tool in addressing environmental sustainability: ITU’s message to global climate change conference
Source: International Telecommunication Union
Date (published): 13/07/2011
Date (accessed): 13/07/2011
Type of information: press release
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Geneva, 13 July, 2011 - Ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP-17) in Durban, South Africa, attendees at the ITU Symposium on ICTs and Climate Change in Ghana have renewed calls for global leaders to recognize the power of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

An outcome document asks that ITU, as the UN specialized agency for ICTs, lead a coalition urging COP-17 delegates to look to the enormous potential of ICT solutions to cut emissions across all sectors. The document calls for the adoption of a ‘closed loop’ approach to manufacturing and recycling which will reduce the need to extract and process raw materials. It also asks for recognition of the value of ICTs in monitoring deforestation, crop patterns and other environmental phenomena.
....
During the event, ITU launched a project on ICTs and climate change in Ghana which will be based on two pillars. The first will look at how ICTs can be used to help Ghana adapt to the effects of climate change, and will be led by the Ministry of Communications and sponsored by Research in Motion (RIM). The second, which will be led by Ghana’s Environment Protection Agency (EPA) with sponsorship from Vodafone Ghana, will look at how telecommunications in Ghana can reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). This project will pilot, for the first time, the ITU methodology on Environmental Assessment for the ICT Sector."

Kenya opens its books in revolutionary transparency drive

Title: Kenya opens its books in revolutionary transparency drive
Author: Claire Provost
Source: Poverty matters blog
Publisher: The Guardian
Date (published): 13/07/2011
Date (accessed): 13/07/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"The Kenya Open Data Initiative (KODI), which went live last Thursday, holds more than 160 datasets organised under six subheadings: education, energy, health, population, poverty and water and sanitation. Users can explore data at the country-level, but also by county or constituency. The platform includes newly created geospatial boundaries for Kenya's 47 counties and geocoded datasets can be visualised quickly using simple built-in tools. Data is pulled in from the national census and governMwment ministries as well as from the World Bank.

"Our information is a national asset, and it's time it was shared: this data is key to improving transparency; unlocking social and economic value; and building Government 2.0 in Kenya," says the KODI website.

The initiative, launched by the Kenyan government, aims to promote data-driven decision making and help improve government transparency and accountability.

Users of the open data portal can create interactive charts and tables, and developers can download the raw data via an API to analyse and build applications for web and mobile. There's also a "suggest a dataset" button that collects requests for new data. Demands have already piled in with requests for data on youth unemployment, libraries, crime and the locations of primary and secondary schools."

AfTerFibre – Mapping Terrestrial Fibre Optic Cable Projects in Africa

Title: AfTerFibre – Mapping Terrestrial Fibre Optic Cable Projects in Africa
Author: Steve Song
Source: Many Possibilities blog
Date (published):
Date (accessed): 13/07/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"When I started putting together the African Undersea Cable Map about 3 years ago, I did it to solve my own problem. I couldn’t make sense of all the news articles about new undersea cable projects and where and when they were and weren’t landing. At the time, all of the cable operators were only interested in publishing maps of their own cable. It seemed an easy task at the time to put the 2 or 3 planned cables on a single map. Little did I imagine that they would mushroom to the variety of African undersea cable projects we see today. As more undersea cable projects were announced the cable map became an increasingly useful reference. As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one trying to keep the various undersea projects straight and the map has become far more popular than I would have ever guessed.

But I don’t think it is just the usefulness of the map that has driven its popularity, nor my infographic design skills which are admittedly basic. My theory, for which I have no other evidence than the nature of the feedback I have received from users, is that the map paints a different-from-the-usual picture of Africa. It’s not a picture of a dark continent but rather a brightly lit one, lit by terabits of light capacity brought by a dozen cables landing on sub-Saharan African shores either now or in the near future. Africa, the brilliant continent. This also happens to be the Africa I believe in.

Another thing I think the map has contributed to in a small way is the sense of latent capacity that has inspired investment in national terrestrial infrastructure in Africa. To my knowledge, every country on the continent has some sort of terrestrial fibre infrastructure project either completed or underway to connect to an undersea cable or to a country with an undersea cable. This unprecedented explosion digital infrastructure investment can only be attributed to the sense of the opportunity that the burgeoning African undersea cables represent."

New Models of Technology Assessment for Development

Title: New Models of Technology Assessment for Development
Authors: Adrian Ely, Patrick Van Zwanenberg and Andrew Stirling
Pages: 50 pp.
ISBN: 978 1 85864 993 5
Source: STEPS Working Paper 45
Publisher: STEPS Centre
Date (published): 02/06/2011
Date (accessed): 13/07/2011
Type of information: research paper
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"Technology assessment (TA) is a term for processes that collect, interpret and evaluate information and perspectives about different technological options, in order to inform investments, strategies or policies (see Figure 1). It can play an important part in steering science, technology and innovation towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals and addressing the sustainability objectives at the centre of the Rio+20 summit in June 2012. This briefing outlines work conducted at the STEPS Centre that investigates how ‘new models’ of technology assessment may support these development aims.
...
What are the ‘new models’ of technology assessment?
The new models of technology assessment
- combine citizen and decision-maker participation with technical expertise
- can be conducted ‘virtually’ using new information and communication technologies
- are networked rather than being based in a single office of technology assessment
- are flexible enough to address issues across disciplines and
- are increasingly transnational or global in their reach and scope.

The STEPS Centre report...examines the utility of these ‘new models’ of technology assessment in a broad range of geographical contexts, asking to what extent they can be applied to improving the lives of poor and vulnerable populations in the developing world."

India’s mobile banking sector set to grow

Title: India’s mobile banking sector set to grow
Source: memeburn
Date (published): 23/05/2011
Date (accessed): 13/07/2011
Type of information:
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Banking by phone could transform the workings of the rural economy, but the industry first needs to allay fears about transaction security and overcome low literacy levels and banks’ limited reach in remote areas.
Leading figures from the telecoms and banking sectors meeting in Mumbai last week said that mobile banking — including money transfers, bill payments and remittances — was largely untapped.
“The potential for mobile banking is enormous, but it will take its own pace to grow,” said Amit Ahire, analyst at Ambit Capital.
One in 10 of the world’s mobiles is sold in India, according to technology research specialists Gartner, and the country adds nearly 19-million new mobile subscribers every month, making it the fastest-growing market in the world.
An estimated 775-million people are mobile phone subscribers.
Yet, at the same time, nearly half of the adult population still does not have a bank account."

One-to-one computing in Latin America & the Caribbean

Title: One-to-one computing in Latin America & the Caribbean
Author: Michael Trucano
Source: EduTech
Publisher: The World Bank Group
Date (published): 21/06/2011
Date (accessed): 13/07/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"A recent paper from Eugenio Severin and Christine Capota of the Inter-american Development Bank (IDB) surveys an emerging set of initiatives seeking to provide children with their own educational computing devices. While much of the popular consideration of so-called "1-to-1 computing programs" has focused on programs in the United States, Canada, Western Europe and Australia, One-to-One Laptop Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean: Panorama and Perspectives provides a useful primer for English-speaking audiences on what is happening in middle and low income countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela."

Mobile Money in Mexico

Title: Mobile Money in Mexico
Source: Mobile Banking blog
Date (published): 09/06/2011
Date (accessed): 13/07/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Mexico is such an important market from a mobile money perspective. The profile of the citizens, the proximity (and dependency on) a large remittance market and the big growth in mobile phones make this country one of the best candidate for the next big mobile money deployment. Not much has been achieved in the past years. With many false starts (and failures), have marked the early stages of mobile money in Mexico.

The big success of micro lending institutions to bring financial services to the lower income is an indication of the need that exist at the bottom of the pyramid and that fact that well-defined and managed services can be rolled-out to reach a large part of the population. Changes in the regulatory framework have made the possibility to roll-out more financial services grow. "

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