Amplifying Somali Voices Using SMS and a Live Map: #SomaliaSpeaks

Title: Amplifying Somali Voices Using SMS and a Live Map: #SomaliaSpeaks
Source: The Ushahidi Blog
Publisher: Ushahidi.com
Date (published): 08/12/2011
Date (accessed): 08/12/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Somalia has been steadily slipping from global media attention over the past few months. The large scale crisis is no longer making headline news, which means that advocacy and lobbying groups are finding it increasingly difficult to place pressure on policymakers and humanitarian organizations to scale their intervention in the Horn of Africa. I recently discussed this issue with Al-jazeera’s Social Media Team whilst in Doha and pitched a project to them which has just gone live this hour.

The joint project combines the efforts of multiple partners including Al-Jazeera, Ushahidi, Souktel, Crowdflower, the African Diaspora Institute and the wider Somali Diaspora. The basis of my pitch to Al-jazeera was to let ordinary Somalis speak for themselves by using SMS to crowdsource their opinions on the unfolding crisis. My colleagues at Al-jazeera liked the idea and their editorial team proposed the following question:

Al Jazeera wants to know: how has the conflict of the last few months affected your life? Please include the name of your hometown in your response. Thank you!

So I reached out to my good friend Jacob Korenblum at Souktel. He and I had been discussing different ways we might combine our respective technologies to help in Somalia. Souktel has been working in Somalia and providing various SMS based solutions to several organizations. Jacob had previously mentioned that his team had a 50,000+ member SMS subscriber list. This proved to be key. Earlier this week, the Souktel team sent out the above question in Somali to about 5,000 of their subscribers. An effort was made to try and select geographically disbursed areas.

We’ve since received well over 2,000 text message replies and counting. In order to translate and geolocate these messages, I got in touch my colleagues Vaughn Hester and Lukas Biewald at Crowdflower in San Francisco. Crowdflower uses micro-tasking solutions to process and structure data flows. They were very keen to help and thanks to their support my Ushahidi colleagues Rob Baker and Linda Kamau were able to customize this Crowdflower plugin to translate, categorize and geo-locate incoming text messages..."

Harnessing technology for transformation

Title: Harnessing technology for transformation
Author: Matt Bannick
Source: What Matters
Publisher: McKinsey & Company
Date (published): 02/12/2011
Date (accessed): 07/12/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"The social sector should put more effort behind digital technology. The anonymity of mobile communication allows end users to report data—on health status or corruption, for example—without loss of privacy or fear of reprisal. By aggregating those reports, the potential impact is far greater than any individual could hope to achieve. And with networked technology, a simple solution can scale quickly.

With a 9 percent annual growth rate, India is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. But corruption remains a serious problem; in 2010, Transparency International ranked the country 87th out of 178 countries in its annual corruption perception index. Indian citizens are regularly forced to pay bribes for everything from birth certificates to driver’s licenses—with little recourse for changing the situation. Individuals who blow the whistle on rent-seeking officials face the threat of retribution, a risk to both themselves and their families.

Technology has the potential to rapidly change this state of affairs. In August 2010, Indian civic leaders launched a website called IPaidaBribe.com allowing citizens to document incidents in which they were forced to fork over money illegally to government employees. The website has gained traction with impressive speed. In little over a year, citizens from 400 cities have reported incidents of bribery more than 16,000 times, and the site has had over 600,000 visitors. Requests to replicate the site have come in from more than 18 countries, including Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, the Gambia, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, and Sri Lanka, as well as several countries in the Balkans.

When we hear about the role of technology in spurring social change, our minds may immediately turn to well-worn images—such as activists using Twitter and Facebook to organize uprisings this past spring in the Arab world. Hidden from the headlines, however, is an equally inspiring story. Technology is not just being used to organize protests; it is empowering citizens to intervene on a wide variety of difficult, risk-laden social issues. It is also providing a platform to rapidly scale these interventions —so that millions of lives can be touched in a relatively short period of time."

Farming By Phone

Title: Farming By Phone
Author: Isaiah Esipisu
Source: COP17 CLIMATE CHANGE DURBAN 2011
Date (published): 30/11/2011
Date (accessed): 06/12/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Francis Mburu used to keep indigenous cattle in Entasopia village in the semi- arid Kajiado region, 160 kilometres southwest of Nairobi. However, increasing temperatures and frequent droughts in Kenya have made this difficult in recent years.
But now, in an area that has never had electricity, where education is not a priority or sometimes not an option at all, residents of Entasopia are using a solar-powered internet facility to adapt to the changing climatic conditions.
The Nguruman community, largely composed of the Maasai ethnic group, now has access to an ICT facility locally known as Maarifa (“knowledge” in Swahili) Centre. Here they are able to access climate adaptation information via the internet, videos and books. The Arid Land Information Network (ALIN), in collaboration with the Kenyan government, founded the project.
According to Samuel Nzioka, the field officer for ALIN, most of the videos shown at the centre are practical lessons in local languages aimed at boosting the understanding of the concepts of climate change and adaptation, and basic dry-land farming knowledge..."

Do Open Educational Resources Actually Increase the Digital Divide?

Title: Do Open Educational Resources Actually Increase the Digital Divide?
Author: Wayan Vota
Source: Educational Technology Debate
Date (published): 05/12/2011
Date (accessed): 06/12/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"We have often focused on Open Educational Resources (OER) in the Educational Technology Debates. We talked about the need for creating digital content and examples of existing Open Educational Resources. But this month we’re going to ask a controversial question:

Does OER actually expand the digital divide?

The proponents of Open Educational Resources are right to point out the need for digital content. There are few if any locally relevant resources for educators in the developing world – local language being a major issue. So is access – to the hardware required to view content and often the Internet access to reach it. In addition to content, and the access to reach it, teachers need the skills and training to convert good content into great lessons.

But let us say that all these prerequisites exist – content, access, training:

Does that mean teachers will actually use it?
And who will they use it with? Students already advantaged with socio-economic resources or the underprivileged learners that are the ostensible focus of many educational technology interventions?
Most importantly, regardless of the benefits for the privileged, how can we create better OER benefits for the poor?
Please join us this month for what we all expect to be a lively and informative conversation – your input can start right now in the comments below. You can also submit your extended thoughts as a longer independent Guest Post of at least 500 words. Please email Guest Posts to editors@edutechdebate.org. We will be publishing Guest Posts throughout the month to maintain the conversation."

Why we shouldn’t put mobile money on a pedestal…yet?

Title: Why we shouldn’t put mobile money on a pedestal…yet?
Author: Laura Fedoryk
Source: Peace Dividend Trust Blog
Date (published): 01/12/2011
Date (accessed): 04/12/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Mobile money initiatives have exploded throughout the developing world. We’ve been hearing a lot over the past few years about its ability to provide access to savings, cash transfers, bill payments and other money management tools to unbanked populations. Yet given the dearth of cautionary literature on the topic, it appears it’s been a bit harder for development enthusiasts to pause and consider the possible pitfalls. What happens when a population — the one that is most likely to benefit from its services — rapidly adopts a new technology, like mobile money?

I’m not saying that mobile money is inherently bad – far from it. But as we click away on our smart phones, iPads, and other tech devices, it’s easy to forgive their flaws and look past the potential dangers they create (speaking of which, if you’re reading this while, say crossing the street, save it for later – it won’t be useful to you when you’re in the path of a city bus…).

Mobile money is a tool and, much like we have seen activists and repressive governments alike use social media platforms to spread information or incite action, it can both positively and negatively affect large numbers of people with the tap of a single button..."

ICTs and Informal Learning in Developing Countries

Title: ICTs and Informal Learning in Developing Countries
Author: Christopher Foster
Pages: 44 pp.
ISBN: 978-1-905469-16-1
Source: Working Paper Series, Paper No. 46, Development Informatics Group
Publisher: Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester
Date (published): 09/03/2011
Date (accessed): 04/12/2011
Type of information: working paper
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"This paper presents an approach to understanding information and communication technology-for-development (ICT4D) interventions based around informal learning, where the ongoing process of using ICTs – rather than informational products – is seen as the principal development driver.

A conceptual model of informal learning in ICT4D is constructed. This model moves beyond the treatment of informal learning as a single unproblematic concept, to illustrate that there is a landscape of contrasting modes of informal learning and subsequent development outcomes that can occur within the processes of ICT4D projects.

We use this model to provide guidelines that will help practitioners to understand ICT process within their projects and how they might 'design' projects around informal learning; through linking actions and ICT use to desired development outcomes.

This study is supported by a review of the literature; in particular using case studies from India and Brazil to illustrate how informal learning can become the principal focus of an intervention, and potentially provide more appropriate ways to understand empowerment, social change and participatory production within ICT4D.

Educator's guide to student questions for this paper.

Table of Contents
Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2
A. INFORMAL LEARNING IN THE LITERATURE………………………………………………….. 3
A.1. ICTs and Informal Learning in Developing Countries ……………………………….. 3
A.2. Theoretical Approaches …………………………………………………………………………. 5
B. THE 'THREE DIRECTIONS' MODEL OF INFORMAL LEARNING………………………… 6
B.1. A Critique of Development as Empowerment ……………………………………………. 6
B.2. Three Informal Learning Outcomes Beyond Empowerment………………………… 8
B.3. Pedagogical Approach within the 'Three Directions' of Informal Learning…..11
B.4. Summary – A Model for Informal Learning in ICT4D ……………………………… 14
B.5. Locating ICT4D Projects in the Three Directions Model ………………………….. 15
C. APPLYING THE 'THREE DIRECTIONS' MODEL…………………………………………….. 16
C.1. Learning and Radio in India…………………………………………………………………. 16
C.2. Networked Cultural Learning in Brazil ………………………………………………….. 21
D. PRACTITIONER ADVICE ON USE OF INFORMAL LEARNING APPROACHES ……… 29
E. CONCLUSIONS…………………………………………………………………………………………. 33
E.1. Informal Learning and ICT4D2.0 ………………………………………………………….. 33
E.2. Future Work………………………………………………………………………………………… 33
E.3. Final Summary ……………………………………………………………………………………. 34
REFERENCES …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 35"

Malaysia to set up 4,000 wifi villages by 2012

Title: Malaysia to set up 4,000 wifi villages by 2012
Author: Clarice Africa
Source: FutureGov
Date (published): 23/11/2011
Date (accessed): 04/11/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"By the end of 2012, about 4000 WiFi villages will be set up nationwide as part of the Government’s initiative to bring the benefits of broadband to the citizens.

According to Information, Communications and Culture Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim, at present there are only about 1,400 WiFi villages in the country and are mostly found in Perlis, Sabah, and Sarawak.

“We are in the process of building electronic towers in Sabah and Sarawak, therefore our big enrolment drive to create Malaysia as an internet community is there now,” he said.

The average cost of the project for each village is about RM25,000 (USD 7,800) to RM 32,000 (USD 10,000). The villages would be provided with the normal computerising system with broadband facility which will be free of charge for the first three months, while a minimum of RM10 (USD 3) per month would be charged subsequently."

Can a Process Approach Improve ICT4D Project Success?

Title: Can a Process Approach Improve ICT4D Project Success?
Authors: Matthew Walton & Richard Heeks
Pages: 35 pp.
ISBN: 978-1-905469-18-5
Source: Working Paper Series, Paper No. 47, Development Informatics Group
Publisher: Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester
Date (published): 06/10/2011
Date (accessed): 04/12/2011
Type of information: working paper
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"In studying ICT4D one may develop a sense of scepticism towards the topic, fuelled by high failure rates that have plagued ICT4D practice and the subsequent lack of developmental impacts that such failure implies. It seems that if the impacts of ICT4D are to be realised, changes must be made to the way it is approached and delivered.

Simultaneously, in studying development, one may notice the process approach as a significant alternative to traditional, top-down management; and notice a connection between elements of the process approach and reactions to failure highlighted in the ICT4D literature. This paper thus sets out to answer the question: "Can a process approach increase the likelihood of success in ICT4D projects?"

Through analytical study of four successful ICT4D projects, it finds the presence of the five key elements of a process approach: beneficiary participation; flexible, phased implementation; learning from experience; institutional support; and programme management. Pushing the use of a process approach further, we find that "success" and "failure" should not be used as single, cross-sectional, final judgements. Instead, they should be seen as multiple, contingent and passing; and as a basis for learning.

From this perspective, ICT4D projects should look for successes – solution relevance, opportunities for capacity-building, and sustainability. Those can be delivered by taking a dynamic, holistic view – summarised in the ICT4D Process Approach Wheel – that frames ICT4D management as an ongoing interconnection of the five process elements.

The paper ends with some specific recommendations for ICT4D project practice.

Educator's guide to student questions for this paper.

See also:
Can a Process Approach Improve ICT4D Project Success? by Richard Heeks (This blog entry is a summary of the online working paper)"

Technology for transparency, accountability and good governance

Title: Technology for transparency, accountability and good governance
Author: Dave Algoso
Source: Find What Works blog
Date (published): 30/11/2011
Date (accessed): 03/12/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"I spent yesterday morning at a discussion on the above topic. The issue at hand was the fact that a bunch of groups have been doing government accountability and transparency work for decades, and a bunch of groups are trying to leverage new technology and social media for similar ends — but these two sets aren’t talking to one another as much as they should be.

I noticed two major themes in the discussion...

How to divide up such a big topic?

The conversation ranged from open government data, to the use of mobiles for government service delivery, to citizen reporting on government abuses. In other words: the intersection of technology and better governance is huge. By the end of the event, it was clear that those attending had more to say on these issues.

There were several attempts to divide up the issue into manageable chunks. One rubric involved a distinction between top-down and bottom-up. The first category includes efforts to make data more accessible, use mobiles/other technology to reach citizens, or generally improve the efficiency of government operations through better technology.
...
Another approach for understanding the topic is to think about the impact that new technologies have on current governance processes. Technology might simply make a process more efficient by reducing transaction costs. For example, mobile phones and the internet help make it a lot cheaper to monitor elections, provide government data, or inform citizens about services. But technology might go another step further, beyond mere efficiency, by actually transforming how government works and how citizens interact with one another. This (some would argue) is what Twitter did in Egypt.
...
How do we know what works?

The other big theme yesterday was evaluation. I get the sense that most technology-for-governance interventions don’t receive anything close to rigorous evaluation. This is hardly surprising: governance issues are notoriously difficult to evaluate. As I’ve discussed before, randomized controlled trials aren’t applicable. Even psuedo-experimental methods run into trouble when trying to pick a defensible counter-factual. New technology might make data collection easier, but that won’t allow us to overcome the complexity of understanding governance or how change happens..."

New technology and good governance

Title: New technology and good governance
Author: Linda Raftree
Source: Wait… What? bridging community development and technology blog
Date (published): 01/12/2011
Date (accessed): 03/12/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Civil society has been working for years on participation, transparency, accountability and governance issues. Plenty of newer initiatives (small and large) look at new technologies as a core tool in this work. But are these groups talking and learning from each other? What good practices exist for using new technologies to improve transparency, accountability and governance? What are some considerations and frameworks for thinking about the role of new technologies in this area of work? What needs consideration under this broad theme of good governance?

Tuesday’s Technology Salon in New York City focused on those issues, kicked off by our two discussants, Hapee de Groot from Hivos and Katrin Verclas from Mobile Active. Discussion ensued around the nuances of how, with whom, when, why, and in conjunction with what do new technologies play a role in transparency, accountability and good governance.

Some of the key points brought up during the Salon**:

What is “good governance?” The overall term could be divided into a number of core aspects, and so the discussion is a big one and it’s complicated. Aid transparency is only one small part of the overall topic of good governance.

More data doesn’t equal more accountability. Data does not equal participation. Can mobile phones and other ICTs or social media reduce corruption? Can they drive new forms of participation? Can they hold power accountable in some ways? Yes, but there is no conclusive evidence that the use of new technology to deliver data down from governments to people or up from people to governments improves governance or accountability.

Efficient vs transformational. Transactional efficiency within a system is one thing. Transformation is another. You can enhance an existing process from, say, writing on paper to calling on a landline to texting in information, thereby improving accuracy and speed. But there is something more which is the transformational side. What’s most interesting perhaps are those ways that ICTs can completely alter processes and systems. Again, there are a lot of promising examples but there is not much evidence of their impact at this point.

Is open data just a big show? Some alluded to opaque transparency, where a government or another entity throws up a bunch of data and says “we are being open” but there is no realistic way to make sense of the data. Some felt that governments are signing onto open data pacts and partnerships as a fake show of transparency. These governments may say, “The data base is available. Go ahead and look at it.” But it costs a lot of money and high level skills to actually use the data. In addition, there is a need for regulatory frameworks and legislation around openness.

Is open data an extractive process? Some at the Salon cautioned that the buzz around Open Data could be a bit false in some ways, and may be hyped up by private companies who want to make money off of nice data visualizations that they can sell to big donors or governments. The question was raised about how much data actually gets back to those people who provide it so that they can use it for their own purposes?

Whose data? A related issue that wasn’t fully discussed at the Salon is: who does the information that is being “opened” actually belong to (in the case of household surveys, for example)? The government? The International NGO or multilateral agency who funds a project or research? The community? And what if a community doesn’t want its data to be open to the world – is anyone asking? What kind of consent is being granted? What are the privacy issues? And what if the government doesn’t want anyone to know the number of X people living in X place who fit X description? Whose decision is it to open data? What are the competing politics?

Can new ICTs weaken helpful traditional structures or systems? Is new tech removing some middlemen who were an important part of culture or societal structure? Does it weaken some traditional structures that may actually be useful? The example of the US was given where a huge surge of people now engage directly with their congressperson via Twitter rather than via aggregation channels or other representatives. Can this actually paralyze political systems and make them less functional?

Does new technology create parallel structures? Are parallel structures good or bad? In an effort to bypass inefficient and/or unaccountable systems, in one case, private business owners started their own crime reporting and 911 system to respond and accompany victims to report to the police and follow up on incidents. Questions were raised whether this privatization of government roles was taking justice into ones’ own hands, forcing the government to be accountable, allowing it to shirk responsibilities, or providing a way for government to see an innovation and eventually take on a new and more effective system that had been tried and tested with private funds. This same issue can be seen with parallel emergency reporting systems and other similar uses of ICTs..."

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