Community health workers receive new cell phones as incentives to continue their malaria rapid reporting. PBS reports.
With the use of mobile technology, health workers with Akros Research have been able to double the number of clinics and patients they visit per day - when previously they traveled upwards of 100 miles to reach community health volunteers in southern Zambia's heavily impacted areas.
... Several key interventions have been implemented since 2000, including distributing long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying and antimalarial medicines to curb the disease. The introduction of rapid reporting systems, using mobile phones to provide real-time data and the detection of high-infection areas, has health workers and volunteers excited about ending malaria deaths for good.
Health communication systems designed for rural, developing countries -- where hospitals are often understaffed and transportation is inadequate -- are being adapted to improve care in U.S. cities. The Atlantic reports.
In the last decade, community health efforts have been made more effective by a simple insight: that time, money, and sometimes even lives can be saved through texting. At St. Gabriel's Hospital in Malawi, for example, 75 community health workers were trained to use text messages to communicate patient information, appointment reminders, and other health-related notifications to patients. Through this mobile health, or mHealth, initiative, the hospital saved approximately 2,048 hours of worker time and $3,000 in fuel, while doubling the capacity of the tuberculosis treatment program.
The case for this growing field in the developing world provokes some controversy, however. Tina Rosenberg, writing in The New York Times, argued recently that the field is in flux. "Roughly a decade after the start of mHealth ... these expectations are far from being met," she writes. "The delivery system is there. But we don't yet know what to deliver.
A viral phone game in Pakistan trains people to use their keypad—and gives them the skills they need to hunt for a job. MIT Technology Review reports.
The global spread of mobile phones has brought new opportunities to many poor people around the world, but an estimated 800 million have trouble with text entry or automated voice systems because they are illiterate or only partly literate. And training programs are difficult to get going at sufficient scale.
In Pakistan, researchers are using a silly voice game to motivate hundreds of thousands of people to master an automated voice system—and then move on to scroll job listings this way, too.
The effort, led by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Pakistan’s Lahore University of Management Sciences, started last May, when just five people in service jobs at Lahore University were given a phone number to get started playing the game. As of this week, the game has more than 156,000 users involving nearly 600,000 calls, including 27,000 inquiries to a job service, all of it sustained by viral spreading alone.
In India, awareness levels, implementation and use of mobile money is at its early stages. While accepted in urban cities and metros, rural India is still an untapped market due to technological constraints. ZDNet reports.
For years within India, mobile phones have being used for banking purposes, such as account balances and real-time transaction details.
Now, we are talking about using a mobile phone as an alternative to making traditional transactions, such as swiping cards at the cash register or till, with the goal of eventually replacing both credit and debit cards by swiping your mobile phone.
Children suffering from intestinal worms can now be diagnosed using a mobile phone microscope that is significantly cheaper than conventional methods, which are prohibitively expensive for many communities. All Africa reports.
The microscope costs around US$15 and runs off the phone's battery, whereas a conventional light microscope costs US$200 and requires electricity in most countries.
To build the microscope, scientists transformed an iPhone 4S mobile phone into a microscope by temporarily mounting a 3-millimetre ball lens to the camera, using double-sided tape to hold it firmly. A US$8 ball lens was positioned in a small hole punctured in the middle of the double-sided tape.
They then placed the mobile phone microscope on top of the slide, which was illuminated from below by a small flashlight. Images were viewed on the mobile phone screen, and magnification of up to 60 times was enabled using the digital zoom function.
Scientists from Canada, Switzerland, Tanzania and United States, used the microscope to evaluate stool samples from almost 200 children in Pemba, Tanzania, alongside conventional light microscope to measure the efficacy of different intestinal worm treatments.
Mobile money, the ability to bank using cell phones -- is a game-changer in global development. This video chronicles M-Pesa, a mobile money product made by Safaricom, and its unparalleled success with mobile banking in Kenya.
Oxfam's pink phones project gives mobile phones to women in Cambodia's rural communities so they can access vital farming information, such as crop prices and weather, to help improve their livelihoods. View slideshow.
It was supposed to be the most modern election in African history. Biometric identification kits with electronic thumb pads, registration rolls on laptops at every polling station, and an SMS-relayed, real-time transmission of the results to the National Tallying Center in Nairobi. npr reports.
Ambitious? Of course. Only 23 percent of the country has access to electricity.
... Among Kenya's wired middle class, the going wisdom was that politics was stuck in the past — hopelessly mired in tribalism and corruption — but that technology would breathe fairness and transparency into the process.
And then came Election Day and the triumph of Murphy's Law.
-- First the laptops ran out of battery power. Organizers had failed to consider that African school buildings, where many of the polling stations were situated, don't have electric outlets.
-- Then the biometric identification kits started to crash. Poll workers didn't have the PIN numbers and passwords they needed to restart the software. Paper ballots were rolled out and voter lines slowed to a crawl, forcing some voters to wait seven to nine hours in the hot sun to cast their ballots.
Voting concluded on Monday, but the tech hiccups did not. A bizarre computer bug multiplied the number of disqualified ballots by a factor of eight, leaving Kenyans livid and demoralized for several days in the belief that more than a quarter-million votes had been summarily tossed out in the incredibly tight race. The SMS-relay system overloaded, too, forcing election officials to airlift poll workers to Nairobi by helicopter to hand deliver the results.
The breakdown of the system delayed the announcement of a winner, creating more anxiety with each passing day in a country that experienced massive post-election violence in 2007.
An estimated 500 to 650 million cellphone users are off-grid. London-based company Buffalo Grid and its portable charging station is hoping to step into the gap.New Scientist reports.
Solar-powered cellphone charging station activated by text message could provide a big help to Africa. Juliet Nandutu in Uganda is offering the service to her village. "I charge 18 phones a day, sometimes 20," she says.
How many phones she charges depends on the local electricity supply. When it's there, people can charge their phones at home, but that's not very often. "It's not so reliable," she says. "It's on and off."
Each text message allows a phone to be charged for 1.5 hours. A fully charged Buffalo Grid unit can last for three days, has up to 10 charging points and charges 30 to 50 phones a day.
Maternal mortality is still a major problem in Uganda. Only 41.9% of births is attended by skilled health staff, resulting in 440 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. TextToChange reports on their campaign to reduce maternal mortality in Uganda.
This mobile phone-based program was set up to reach 3000 people in three districts in Uganda and is about collecting data and obtaining and responding to feedback.
Village Health Team members (VHT’s) were trained to enrol community members in the text messaging platform. Once the community members are registered they receive messages with information to raise awareness on different aspects of maternal health, for example danger signs during pregnancy, nutrition and patients’ rights. Registered mothers also receive periodic reminders to have antenatal check-ups. Another aspect of the campaign is that community members receive health questions via SMS on client satisfaction.
TechInAsia on the success of Digital bank VOX in Indonesia, fueled by SMS.
Founded by Joseph Gaol in 2008, VOX, which stands for Virtual Online Exchange, aims to help the rural population in Indonesia set up bank accounts.
VOX has “mobile street vendors” to connect with the local people. A total of 12,000 of them are in the outskirts of Jakarta and these vendors also act as micro-lenders. As lenders, they sign an agreement with VOX and comply with all terms and conditions set by them to ensure that money is managed in a legal manner.
These lenders – or rather, street vendors by trade – are usually very well connected within the local community. They are also in charge of educating customers in using VOX’s mobile banking system while at the same time helping customers to deposit, withdraw, or to make a loan.
Customers will send a short code via SMS to VOX. The street vendors will then meet the user to collect or pass the cash to the customers. Using the same SMS code system, users can also use their accounts to purchase Facebook credits and pay their utility bills. Right now, VOX is hoping to include more merchandisers within its digital bank system to make payment more simple for its 1.5 million customers. Joseph reveals that, on average, the bank balance per user is at 300,000 Rupiah ($31). So the amount per transaction can’t be high.
Kenya’s mobile operator, Safaricom, in partnership with Sisi Ni Amani – Kenya, an NGO association, have launched an SMS platform to promote peace as the east African country prepares for elections. Ventures Africa reports.
This platform will allow community peace ambassadors to send out peace messages targeted at specific incidents at a micro level with the aim of preventing, reducing or stopping election violence.
According to AllAfrica.com, the two entities have also partnered with other organisations including the Kenya Police Service, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the National Steering Committee on Peace Building and Conflict – a body that seeks to manage integration and conflict in the country.
This move follows violence that rocked the country in 2008 after disputed elections towards the end of 2007.
While mobile phone usage has exploded across Africa over the last decade, transforming daily life and commerce for millions, it's a revolution that has left behind perhaps two thirds of its people. Reuters reports.
...In South Sudan, the world's newest state, it's a similar story. Less than a year old, the country already has five mobile operators, and its capital, Juba, is teeming with giant billboards advertising mobile phones, but go just a few kilometers beyond a handful of fast-growing towns, and cell phones become useless.
Multiple SIM cards help users navigate patchy network coverage and take advantage of price promotions from rival operators.
That is typical of much of the continent.
With a population of just over a billion people, Africa has over 700 million SIM cards, but with most users owning at least two cards, penetration is only about 33 percent, according to a study released in November by industry research firm Wireless Intelligence.
"If we look at the fact that the rural population of Africa is about 60-70 percent of the population, and if we look at the degree of penetration into the rural market, it's very, very low," said Spiwe Chireka of advisory firm IDC.
Text messaging is giving Africans the opportunity to make their voices heard by world leaders in a new campaign that kicked off Wednesday. Mashable reports.
Poverty fighting organization One launched its "You Choose" pilot program in South Africa, Malawi and Zambia, hoping to give Africans from those countries a voice at the U.N. when post-2015 development goals are considered in March.
In 2012, India had 925 million mobile phone subscribers. The phones have helped organize protests by middle-class Indians, most recently against the savage rape and slaying of a young woman in Delhi. Bloomberg reports.
They have also starred in one of India’s biggest-ever scandals. The country’s most prominent politicians, journalists and businessmen were incriminated in a rigged auction of 2G spectrum; they were exposed by the secretly taped phone conversations of a corporate lobbyist.
Favorite Ken Banks on the truth about disruptive development in Stanford Social Innovation Review, as he looks back at 10 years of contributing to mobile technology.
... I’ve been thinking for some time about the future of m4d (mobile for development), and how far we’ve come over the past decade. I’ve written frequently about the opportunities mobile technology offers the development community and my fears that we may end up missing a golden opportunity. I’ve long been a champion of platforms and of understanding how we might build tools for people to take and deploy on their own terms. Yes, we should provide local entrepreneurs and grassroots nonprofits with tools—and where appropriate and requested, expertise—but we shouldn’t develop solutions to problems we don’t understand. We shouldn’t take ownership of a problem that isn’t ours, and we certainly shouldn’t build “solutions” from thousands of miles away and then jump on a plane in search of a home for them.
But this is still, on the whole, what seems to be happening. And this, I’m beginning to believe, is rapidly becoming ICT4D’s (information communication technologies for development) inconvenient truth.
Vietnam and the Cell Phone Revolution by News Analysis, Andrew Lam for New America Media.
According to the latest statistics reported by TechniAsia, there were 145 cell phones for every 100 Vietnamese in 2012. For a country “whose population is just over 90 million,” it adds, “that amounts to more than 130 million mobile phones.”
... Beyond the daily chitchat, Vietnamese are increasingly using their hand held devices to document and share scenes that authorities would prefer remain out of the public spotlight. Police wrongdoings are routinely reported, tweeted and shared online. Protests against police corruption and government land confiscation, and even against China’s expansionism in the South China Sea, are now organized by cell phones.
... There's a growing collective discontent against injustices and corruption, and the new communication architecture has loosened the tongue of the general population. And the more informed, the more restless they become. Whether they know it or not, by sharing and swapping information on a national scale the Vietnamese are making revolution happen, one text at a time.
Intel has realized that it's a smartphone world, and that if there's money to be made anywhere it's in the emerging markets--where dumbphones and featurephones still rule and the smartphone may have transformative power. To appeal to these markets, it's designed a "reference" smartphone that uses its new Atom Z2410 mobile-friendly processor inside.
... Is Intel desperate? Is this move marketing genius, good for the developing world--or is it too little, too late?
With food prices high in Malawi's markets, many families are struggling to find enough to eat. A new program by WFP is sending cash to the most vulnerable people through their mobile phones. AllAfrica reports.
Working with the Malawi government, local partner Save the Children, and the mobile phone provider, Airtel, WFP has launched a program that aims to address this problem of access to food. Hungry farmers are being introduced to a mobile phone banking system that will deliver the cash they need to spend on food at the market.
... In many places where we have a surplus of food, the problem is not that there's no food in the locality, but that poor people cannot afford it," says WFP Senior Program Officer, Charles Inwani. "In a situation like this in Malawi, where the country has been producing a surplus of food for a while, having money in their pockets at least enables people to reach it."
More than 100,000 people are participating in the mobile cash transfer program, which is being funded by UKAID. Each will be provided with low-cost mobile phones and they will receive monthly text messages that entitle them to collect cash from Airtel agents.
Mobile devices will soon be assigned unique public IP (Internet Protocol) addresses as part of the government's efforts to crack down on cyber crime, reports AllAfrica.
The government, through the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK), is pushing mobile operators to give each device - including cell phones and tablets - unique IP addresses to ease identification of users.
He said this would help track and monitor user activity on the mobile devices and supplement the ongoing registration of mobile phone SIM cards.
... In the first quarter of the year, 8,903 cyber security incidents were reported in Africa and of those, 4,501 were related to fraud, which included 2,304 phishing attacks that targeted banks.
"In Africa, financial crimes are increasing," said Cyber Security Africa Alliance Manager Sammy Kioko.
Mobile phone services are improving agricultural yield and profits by providing farmers advice on crops, weather and market prices. The Guardian reports.
Last year, the GSM Association reported that mobile penetration in Africa had reached 649 million subscribers – equivalent to around 65% of people – and was expected to reach more than 735 million by the end of 2012. It's a similar story in India, which already has 70 subscriptions per 100 people, with 53% of households owning a mobile phone.
The SMS function offered by even the most basic handset can be used to provide data to farmers that they previously would not have had access to. Instant updates on weather and wholesale crop prices, for example, can improve productivity and negotiating positions.
A World Bank report earlier this year described mobile networks as "a unique and unparalleled opportunity to give rural smallholders access to information that could transform their livelihoods".
Researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia, working with Indian partners, are using mobile phone technology to tackle disease and malnutrition in remote parts of India.
Data from the World Bank indicates that 63 out of every 1,000 Indian children die before reaching the age of five, with undernourishment taking a heavy toll. NewsTrack India reports.
Together with Michael Dibley from the Sydney School of Public Health, she is piloting a project through the South Asian Infant Feeding Network to tackle child hunger in India.
Building on the pioneering efforts of Professor Archana Patel from the Lata Medical Research Foundation and the Indira Gandhi Medical College, the scheme encourages better infant feeding practices by using mobile phones to provide information and counselling to rural families.
A midwife checks up on new and expectant mothers by ringing them each week, and as the infant grows women are sent customised text messages each day.
Work is being conducted in the eastern part of Maharashtra State around Nagpur.
Cellphones, those tiny gateways to modernity, have recently allowed prostitutes in India to shed the shackles of brothel madams and strike out on their own. But that independence has made prostitutes far harder for government and safe-sex counselors to trace. And without the advice and free condoms those counselors provide, prostitutes and their customers are returning to dangerous ways. Mercury News reports.
Studies show that prostitutes who rely on cellphones are more susceptible to HIV because they are far less likely than their brothel-based peers to require their clients to wear condoms. In interviews, prostitutes said they had surrendered some control in the bedroom in exchange for far more control over their incomes.
... India has been the world's most surprising AIDS success story.
An important reason the disease never took extensive hold in India is that most women here have fewer sexual partners than in many other developing countries. Just as important was an intensive effort underwritten by the World Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to target high-risk groups like prostitutes, gay men and intravenous drug users.
Afghanistan has launched a new literacy programme that enables Afghan women deprived of a basic education during decades of war to learn to read and write using a mobile phone, reports Phys.org.
The phone is called Ustad Mobile (Mobile Teacher) and provides national curriculum courses in both national languages, Dari and Pashto, as well as mathematics. All the lessons are audio-video, with writing, pronunciation and phrases installed in Ustad Mobile phones—and they are distributed free to students.
The Mobile Teacher software was developed by Paiwastoon, an Afghan IT company, with $80,000 dollars in US aid and is designed to tackle one of the worst illiteracy rates in the world by riding the growing wave of mobile phone use.
... The free app can be installed on all mobile phones with a memory card slot and a camera. Individual lessons, which will also be made available on the ministry of education website, will teach new words and phrases.
Africa's “mobile decade”, when telephones at last reached most corners of the continent, has meant a huge improvement in the lives of the poor. But quantifying it is hard. How useful can a mobile phone be to someone living on less than $2.50 a day, the World Bank’s standard benchmark of poverty? Researchers in Kenya have given a partial answer. They find that people will skip a meal or choose to walk instead of paying for a bus fare so that they can keep their phone in credit. The Economist reports.
... Almost half of those surveyed were using internet-enabled smart or “feature” phones. The scratch cards that many Kenyans use to charge their mobiles have recently begun to advertise their value in terms of data rather than talk time. Meanwhile, mobile-phone operators have been giving free access to sites such as Wikipedia to entice customers.
Still, only 16% of respondents said they were using their phones to browse the internet. The real breakthrough in the Kenyan market has been in people’s ability to send and receive money, with more than two-thirds doing so by phone.