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Updated: 27 weeks 4 days ago
This year, Chinese company Huawei launched an $80 Android phone, the IDEOS, through Kenyan telecom Safaricom. According to sources, the phone has sold over 350,000 units in Kenya, “a staggering statistic considering nearly half of Kenya’s population lives on less than two dollars per day.”
We thought it important to take a closer look at this relatively low-cost device and the larger issues and questions that arise from it.The Android Edge?
An article on Singularity Hub suggests that while affordability is a key driver for adoption, a larger issue with the IDEOS phone is the competitive edge of Android phones:
Now that hundreds of thousands of Kenyans have jumped on the Android bandwagon, it’s clear that affordability goes a long way. However, the IDEOS’s stellar sales performance in a developing nation hints at a larger phenomenon – the international competitive edge of Android-capable, low-end smartphones.
What exactly does this mean? For developers, it may equate to more flexibility:
If app-gurus are free to program without rigid, Apple-like standardization, then they’re better able to tailor the Android to the needs of their communities.
This is important, as apps play a key role in many mobile-based projects for social change. We’ve written about the role of Android-based apps in many areas: mHealth, agricultural, environmental, and others.
There is also the question of whether IDEOS will spur development of other low-cost devices. Huawei manufactures low-cost Android phones and tablets for the Indian market, such as the Beetel Magiq, from Bharti Group firm Beetel Teletech. In the competitive and price-sensitive Indian mobile industry, will rival companies attempt to introduce similar low-cost Android devices?
In addition to spurring competition, low-cost mobile devices may be beneficial to developers and companies outside of Huawei in China. In an article titled, “There will be two different iPhones in September and the cheaper one is more important,” suggests that a low-cost version of the iPod touch platform could be a boon for Apple:
Apple could use the iPod touch platform that debuted a full year ago to build a cheap iPhone device... This iPhone could be a world phone that works on all four (10?) US networks and abroad. Apple already has Qualcomm Gobi chips in its Verizon iPhone and iPad... All of your friends may have an iPhone but only 8% of Americans have ponied up for one. Apple could quadruple its market with a move like this.Recurring questions
There are recurring questions of the $80 IDEOS phone, including how the cost was lowered, the quality of the phone, the need for the device, and additional costs associated with it.
How did Huawei lower the cost?
The answer may be by using less powerful hardware. A Singularity Hub article explains further:
So how did Huawei ride the demand curve below the golden price point, bringing an Android phone within the financial reach of thousands of Kenyans? Alongside the falling cost of all microelectronics, it appears that Huawei was able to lower the price by using less powerful hardware.
See the screenshot below (from the article) or here, which compares the display size, camera capability, RAM, talk time, and cost (without data plan) of IDEOS, Apple iPhone 4, Motorola Droid X2, Blackberry Bold 9780, and the IBM Simon, an early smartphone from 1994.
But, What's the Quality?
Another question is about the quality of the IDEOS device. In a recent discussion thread some argued that just because a phone runs Android does not mean the phone itself is reliable.
Worldwide, there is a growing number of Chinese knock-offs, the so-called Shenzai phones, which we write about here. According to the MobileActive.org article:
Shenzhai phones are counterfeit, and there are obvious problems that stem from their outsider status. There are risks involved in buying the fake phones: no legal recourse if the phone doesn’t work as promised, reports of cheap batteries overheating/exploding, higher radiation levels and lower quality screens.
But Huawei IDEOS phones are not knock-offs. The Huawei brand name is on the IDEOS phone, and the company has several other Android phones already on the market.
Reviews on the IDEOS phone do mention what has become a bit of an Android curse - the limited battery life. A GeekZone article says that users “have been lamenting about the device’s fleeting battery life.” According to another article, “an incessant need for recharging could present problems for IDEOS users in remote areas, where hunts for a power outlet may yield disappointing results.”
This has not gone unnoticed. Safaricom, for instance, posted this 6-step guide on reducing power usage on the IDEOS.
What's the Market Saying?
Is IDEOS a misplaced luxury or simply a good value in an increasingly mobile landscape?
In a recent discussion thread, some ask whether there is really a market for an $80 smartphone, in a country where 40% of the population live on less than $2 a day. One comment suggested that at tech or blogger meetups, most people had an IDEOS phone. But in Machakos, a small town outside of Nairobi, there were very few to none.
Some argue that other non-Android phones, such as many new Nokia and Samsung phones, also cost about $80. Coupled with the cost of computers, netbooks, or modems (which all run $80 or more on average) is the IDEOS not simply a competitively-priced option for a mobile device? Faced with other arguably inferior phones, is IDEOS just a better value? Clearly, Kenyans seem to like the phone, looking at initial reported sales figures. We think it's always a bit presumptious to question what is or is not 'appropriate' for a given country - market forces will decide this regardless of the options of well-meaning but misguided "ICT4D" practitioners.
What is compelling about the growth of Android worldwide (marketshare globally has grown to 50% this year, according to recent studies) is the ability to deliver relevant apps to customers. The Android marketplace is realtively easy and inexpensive to develop for and there is a growing number of both large- and small-scale app entrepreneurs, development organizations, health and educational outfits in developing countries building Android apps. This makes Android phones - given the shrinking price point - very competitive vis a vis other smartphone platforms for which it is much harder to develop. We will continue to watch this space and welcome your thoughts.
Are you using any low-cost Android phones? Where, and what has been your experience? Please add your comments or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
android-wins.jpg Countries and Regions Asia Australia and Oceania Central America and the Caribbean Europe Middle East and North Africa North America South America Sub-Saharan Africa Is Featured?: Yes
In a report on worldwide trends in mobile usage, Wireless Intelligence investigates the relationship between decreased prices of call times and the related increase in mobile usage around the world over the last decade. "Analysis: How Pricing Dynamics Affect Mobile Usage" looks at both developed and developing countries to see where call prices have changed most dramatically in the last ten years, and how those changes have affected call times and mobile usage. Although the full report is restricted to Wireless Intelligence members, some of the key data is summarized below.
Calum Dewar, an analyst for Wireless Intelligence (a database of information on mobile markets and worldwide operators), writes that since 2001 mobile usage has grown twice as fast as the number of worldwide mobile connections, as "total global mobile voice minutes reached an estimated 1.6 trillion in 2010," while mobile connections increased from 950 million in 2001 to 5.4 billion. The explanation for this jump in voice minutes/call times is given that the price of per minute calling dropped by three quarters during that same time period.
The study breaks down worldwide mobile markets into four different categories: low-cost, high-usage markets; high-cost, high-usage markets; high-cost, low-usage markets; and low-cost, low-usage markets. The USA and China fall into the low-cost, high-usage category, Japan, Australia, and Taiwan fall into the high-cost, low-usage category, and much of Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East fall into the low-cost, low-usage category.
Examining price and usage correlation over a ten-year period, Dewar writes that the biggest factors in the lower prices/higher mobile use trend are:
- The growth of network connections Since 2001, the number of people within areas of network coverage has grown to cover 90 percent of the world's population. Dewar writes, 'It is generally accepted that as the number of connections in a network grows, the actual level of activity between those connections will grow at a faster rate."
- Increased competition among network operators Dewar writes that "There is now a total of more than 800 operators across 224 countries (or a global average of four operators per market), an increase of more than 40 percent since 2001." The sheer number of operators competing for customers has contributed to lower consumer prices.
- New pricing strategies and promotions among network operators Some users have been swayed to mobile use through the use of promotions like give-aways and sweepstakes; using inventive promotional strategies and advertising made mobile use more commonly acceptable during the early 2000s.
- The rise of mobile connections over fixed landlines The use of mobiles has increased as some users have moved to using only a mobile phone and cutting fixed landline connections completely.
The study breaks down the effects of price and call time; Dewar writes, "... at the global level, every one US cent decrease in EPPM [effective price per minute] results in an average increase of 5.6 minutes calling time per month for every mobile user in the world. The equivalent MoU [minutes per user per month] increase for the developed and developing world are 6.9 and 13.5 minutes respectively, meaning that on average mobile users in the developing world are almost twice as prince sensitive as those in the developed world."
- The report is a good look at how multiple factors have contributed to the rise of mobile usage; lower prices lead to more customers, which in turn lead to increased operator competition and subsequently more customers. Over the last ten years, this cycle has lead to an increase in both total global voice minutes/call times, and an increased number of worldwide mobile connections.
Photo via Flickr user taminator71122048_e2c7491d33.jpg Is Featured?: Yes
The Mobile Minute: Cross-Platform Messaging, Mobile Money in Post-Conflict/Disaster Areas, and U.S. Smartphone Demographics
And, we are back! Today's Mobile Minute brings you coverage on cross-platform mobile messaging, increased network usage rates for MTN Uganda subscribers, strategies for implementing mobile money programs in post-conflict/disaster areas, and a demographic breakdown of U.S. smartphone users.
- ChatON, a new, cross-platform mobile messaging service from Samsung, brings texts, group chats, and multimedia sharing to a variety of handsets and operating systems. According to Samsung, the messaging service will work on both feature phones and smartphones, and will operate on a variety of platfroms including Android, Apple, and RIM/BlackBerry.
- On September 1st, MTN Uganda announced an increase of up to 100 percent of their network usage prices. The International Business Times reports, "MTN has increased the rate it charges customers for calls to another network by a third to 4 shillings a second while those for calls across its own network will double to 4 shillings. The changes take effect this weekend." The company says this was done to account for an increase in operating costs and as a response to inflation in Uganda.
- CGAP investigates the usefulness of mobile money systems in post-conflict/disaster settings, looking at the additional challenges that face development programs in post-conflict settings (such as a lack of resources and skilled staff, lack of political stability, and/or differing goals among donors and implementers). The blog then looks strategies for successful mobile money implementation in post-conflict/disaster settings, such as; making clear goals with all participating parties (from donors to government officials to on-the-ground operators), the necessity of talking with beneficiaries to determine what they want and need, and the importance of realistic expectations.
- A new study from Nielsen Wire finds that 40 percent of American mobile phone owners now have a smartphone; among those smartphone owners, 40% use Android OS, 28% use Apple, 19% use RIM/BlackBerry, and 7% use Windows Mobile (the rest of the market share goes to "other" with 5% and Windows Phone with 1%).
[Mobile Minute Disclaimer: The Mobile Minute is a quick round-up of interesting stories that have come across our RSS and Twitter feeds to keep you informed of the rapid pace of innovation. Read them and enjoy them, but know that we have not deeply investigated these news items. For more in-depth information about the ever-growing field of mobile tech for social change, check out our blog posts, white papers and research, how-tos, and case studies.]
Image courtesy Flickr user QiFei
We are in need of a fabulous web developer for maintenance of two existing complex Drupal sites, and one WordPress site that is currently being built by another firm. We are also starting to use Tilemill and other platforms so proficieny and interest beyond Drupal desired.
Must have extensive and proven Drupal 6 and 7 as well as WordPress development experience, be creative and entrepreneurial and able to work in fast-moving start-up environment. Curiosity and interest in our work related to mobile tech for social change highly desirable, as is making websites super accessible on mobile devices and low bandwidths. Possibility to advance rapidly for the right person. Part-time to start (24 h/week) with potential for more. Full benefits are provided.
Position is based in NYC, no exceptions. We do have a cool office in Chelsea. Competitive salary and signing bonus.
How to Apply: Send to email@example.com the following: Your portfolio, three references (at least one technical reference, please), CV indicating why you want to work with us, and a short coverletter. Indicate DRUPAL DEV in the subject line. As usual, no phone calls. We are hiring IMMEDIATELY, so send us your stuff right away.
Image courtesy Daniel Kudwienwordpress-vs-drupal-150x150.jpg Is Featured?: No
A brand new month means brand new events, and September has no shortage of mobile conferences, hackathons, and seminars to keep you busy! Read on to find out what's happening in the mobile world this month:
- 6-7 September, Mobile Money CALA (Miami, USA) This event is all about mobile banking and payment systems in the Central American and Latin American regions. Discussion topics include how mobile banking case studies from around the world can be adapted to the CALA region, building partnerships between mobile networks and banks, and mobile banking for the unbanked.
- 8-9 September, The Mobile Payment Conference (New York City, USA) For another look at mobile money, the Mobile Payment Conference gives attendees a chance to discuss how mobile payments can be used in both the business and non-profit industries.
- 10-11 September, TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon (San Francisco, USA) In preparation for the TechCrunch Disrupt event, the company is hosting a 24-hour hackathon for developers to get together and code new projects. After the hackathon, participants demo their creations to the audience to kick off the Disrupt event.
- 12-14 September, TechCrunch Disrupt (San Francisco, USA) Following the Hackathon, Disrupt brings together entrepreneurs, developers, and start-up founders. The event features the "Start-Up Battlefield," where participants compete to launch their start-up at the conference, with a $50,000 prize for the winner.
- 19-20 September, The 2nd Annual Social Good Summit (New York City, USA) Describing itself as, "where big ideas meet new media to create innovative solutions," the Social Good Summit brings together technologists and innovators to discuss social issues raised during UN Week.
- 19-23 September, MobiCom 2011 (Las Vegas, USA) An annual conference on mobile computing and mobile and wireless networking, MobiCom is a multi-day event offering panel discussions, workshops, paper presentations, and program demonstrations.
- 20-21 September, L.A. Mobile Entertainment Summit (Los Angeles, USA) If you're curious about how mobiles are being used by and for the entertainment industry, then this is the event for you.
- 23-24 September, Tech@State: Data Visualization (Washington, D.C., USA) Love data visualization? Tech@State has an event focused on how data visualization can be used to enhance diplomacy, development, and foreign affairs.
Know of others? Leave a comment!
Image via Flickr user Kohei314
3106153743_a2932c938b_z.jpg Countries and Regions Central America and the Caribbean Europe North America South America Is Featured?: No
Somalia is suffering through its worst drought in 60 years, and people are fleeing the famine and conflict. A large number of Somalians already live in diasporas across Africa, Europe, and North America. A new service from Voice of America’s Somalia Service and AudioNow makes it easier for Somalians in the United Kingdom to listen to coverage of the drought and other audio news updates, via a basic mobile phone.
“You have a well-educated, motivated, and mobile population that is willing to dial up and listen to radio broadcasts on their mobile phones,” said Steven Ferri, Web Managing Editor of VOA in Africa.
The new service allows people to do just that. Using a basic mobile or landline phone, people call a local UK number to listen to extensive live coverage of Somalian news, 24 hours a day. George Cernat, of AudioNow, estimates that every day, about 1500 to 2000 people access the VOA Somalia content on their phones. The only cost for the user are the fees or time associated with regular airtime use.
MobileActive.org spoke with Ferri and Cernat to hear more about the mobile radio service and where else it is being used.How the Service Works
In the UK, people call a local number (020 3519 3010) and are immediately connected to a live stream; there are no menu options as with a traditional integrated voice response system. The AudioNow service is a proprietary technology that converts Internet audio formats and streams the content to a gateway server. The service then relays the stream to people who call in to the pre-established (and promoted) local number. On the backend, the system has a built-in logic to recognize the various audio formats as well as the ability to continually update the location of the content on the Internet, and, hence, via mobile.
There are other ways to access radio on a mobile phone. Some phones use data service to access radio via the Internet, many smartphones have radio apps, and other phones have FM receiver chips. But data is expensive, apps require more expensive smartphones, and receiver chips may have spotty or unreliable coverage. The call-in functionality of the VOA and AudioNow service allows anyone in the UK to access the content, on a landline or a basic feature phone, and the only cost to the user are regular airtime costs. Content can be broadcast in any language or format.
Cernat describes the service as “satellite radio on a phone.” The service woks like online radio, where a user clicks on a live stream to listen to content over the Internet. Here, you connect via mobile phone instead of online.Partnerships with Radio Stations and Telecoms
AudioNow charges radio stations a one-time connection fee of 200 USD to connect an MP3 stream and provide a local number. It’s up to the radio station to promote the service and number. Cernat said that the service can provide the scale many radio stations are looking for, as an unlimited number of users can call in to the service at any time.
Another partnership occurs at the level of the mobile network operator. AudioNow works with various telecoms to find the lowest cost provider in establishing local numbers. In some cases, such as recent mobile radio service in Guinea, AudioNow set up the gateway server at the teleco in Conakry, as it was easier to co-locate the service there than to serve it via the US.Metrics on Listeners
AudioNow also provides metrics to its partners via a daily email and online. Radio stations can run reports and see the number of users, the time of day users call, the length of time listened, and the numbers that people call from.
In the UK, for example, Cernat said about 1500 to 2000 listeners a day call in to hear news from Somalia. At the station end, Ferri receives daily metrics and is able to see numbers day over day or week over week, which helps VOA observe trends, get a better sense of growth potential, and understand the type of news and events that people respond to.Other Uses, In and Out of Country
So far, most AudioNow partner stations are in the US and the UK, as this is operationally easier, Cernat said. But in the past months VOA and AudioNow have launched services in Guinea, Liberia, and Latin America.
The mobile radio service holds potential for ethnic groups to tap into news and events from their homeland, but it can also be used in-country. In Guinea, the VOA uses the mobile service almost as a “Plan B” for content delivery. Traditional news dissemination in the country (via radio, TV, and the Internet) can be intermittently shut down by government or disrupted due to unreliable infrastructure. During times of high instability, providing a way for people to call a local number for news and information is key. “If everything else breaks down, we will still have dial-up audio available,” Feri said.
Other major broadcasters have begun mobile distribution in Guinea and Liberia, including the BBC and Radio France Internationale (RFI). The service is hosted on the Cellcom mobile network; Cellcom subscribers also have the option of calling a short code with a reduced flat rate. The numbers to call are:
BBC: Short Code: 501, Full Number: 65100991
RFI: Short Code: 502, Full Number: 65100992
VOA: Short Code: 503, Full Number: 65100993
BBC: Short Code: 330, Full Number: 0777999330
RFI: Short Code: 331, Full Number: 0777999331
VOA: Short Code: 332, Full Number: 0777999332
AudioNow is being used outside of established radio broadcast stations, too. In the US, the Maryland Transit Administration uses the service so MTA users can dial a local number to listen to official traffic updates on the go.
For more case studies and guides on the innovative use of mobile tech at radio stations, visit the Mobile Media Toolkit.Screen shot 2011-09-02 at 1.35.40 PM.png Countries and Regions Central America and the Caribbean Europe North America Sub-Saharan Africa Is Featured?: No
Bribespot is a mobile app for Android that allows people to submit reports of corruption and bribes. People can also submit reports on a website and instances are plotted on a map using Google maps API.
In March 2011, Artas Bartas and a team of people from Estonia, Finland, and Lithuania developed the app at Garage48, an event where participants try to pitch and develop an app within 48 hours. Bartas is familiar with issues of corruption; prior to Bribespot, he worked for the UN development program coordinating anti-corruption projects. And, unfortunately, there is demand for an app like Bribespot.
The app has been downloaded 600 times. On the site, about 700 total reports have been submitted and visualized, from around the world.
Bribespot adoption and use has been widespread in Lithuania. Bribespot staff are based in the country and the service has received media attention. There are also many active users in Romania, where the service has been picked up by blogs and web portals. In Romania, many people use the app regularly, Bartas said, which might indicate persistent issues of corruption.
One example from Lithuania is posted on the Bribespot site, in which an individual was asked for 200 USD for a speeding infraction. Another example from Poland reports a bribe for 25 EUR: Traffic cop stopped car. Suggested "half the fine" but first made sure his radiotelephone was off.
A chief success for Bribespot is its simplicity. “The app itself makes sense,” Bartas said. “It is easy to explain.” It is immediately obvious what kind of app it is and how people are supposed to use it, he said.Partnerships with Others
Organizations have contacted Bartas about Bribespot, asking if there are ways to incorporate the service into their work. Currently, Bribespot is working with Transparency International Lithuania to develop a simplified, web-based version.
Of concern for TI Lithuania, Bartas said, are issues of slander and misrepresentation in corruption reports. So, the organization is focusing on collecting more information from users to verify reports and reach out to those who submit them.Accuracy and Verification
To help verify reports and strengthen accuracy, Bribespot staff manually check all incoming reports. First, reports should state a specific instance of a bribe. Second, no names or specific accusations against a particular individual are allowed; these are edited out. About 2 percent of incoming reports are inappropriate and deleted.
Bribespot also monitors how many reports are submitted from a unique phone. “If we see that there is strange activity or someone is very adamant about posting as many reports as possible, we could disable that person,” Bartas said, though they have not had to do this yet.
Bribespot further prevents misuse by installing limits: there is a maximum number of reports that someone can submit in a day via the app, and users have to wait 40 minutes to submit a second report. On the website, anyone can flag reports.Mobile Security Issues
Bribespot has “thought a lot about security,” Bartas said. For instance, what happens if a government agency or official forces the service to hand over its database? Or what happens if the system is hacked? Further, how do you make sure that Bribespot users can not be tracked?
With the Bribespot app, the service collects only the mobile phone unique identifier, or IMEI number. (See this SaferMobile risk primer for more on IMEI numbers and security risks.) This information is captured to help distinguish if the same phone is submitting reports over and over. No other information is captured in the process -- no name or username, no phone number.
The unique identifier is then stored in an encrypted Bribespot database. Aleksandr Tkachenko, technical manager at Bribespot, explained that a standard hashing algorithm is used to provide basic security for the IMEI numbers in the event someone gets access to the servers.
But, this does raise issues, specifically in countries with more stringent mobile phone registration requirements, where a unique identifier may indeed be tied to personal information.
Physical access to a phone is another threat -- mobile phones are easily lost, stolen, or taken. (See this primer for more.) With Bribespot, submitted reports and history of submission are not stored within the app. There is no password or login information required to use this app, so, in the case of physical access to a phone, this information is also not retrievable from the app itself.
It is because of security issues that the app was not developed for SMS delivery on basic feature phones. With SMS, anonymity decreases, and makes it easier for mobile network operators or others to identify those who submit corruption reports.A Fundamental Misconception, and Opportunity for Others
Bartas said that Bribespot often gets asked, what happens next? Users will submit reports and ask to be notified when something is done with the report.
Bribespot does not exist to take action on submitted reports; the primary aim is not to see that people are sentenced or that issues are taken to court. “There is a fundamental misconception,” Bartas said. “If an agency within a country fails to tackle the issue of corruption, I don’t think five technical people will be able to step in their shoes and correct the social ills that have been going on for decades.”
What is the aim of Bribespot? To visualize the corruption that is happening, to act as facilitators on the technical side, and to make as many aware of the service as possible. Second, Bribespot wants to make it easy for others to act upon Bribespot information, such as anti-corruption organizations or investigative journalists.
An iPhone version of Bribespot is expected in October.Screen shot 2011-08-29 at 4.52.37 PM.png Countries and Regions Asia Australia and Oceania Central America and the Caribbean Europe Middle East and North Africa North America South America Sub-Saharan Africa Is Featured?: No
USAID recently hosted the International Mobiles for Education Symposium (M4Ed4Dev for short) in Washington, DC. The conference brought together academics, development professionals, tool developers, educators, and representatives from the private sector to assess the current state of mLearning and consider future developments. Given the varied backgrounds of the event’s participants, it’s understandable that a number of different, often conflicting, viewpoints were expressed. Here are a few.Content Delivery Systems or Learner-Generated Content?
In general, the mobile tools discussed and demonstrated at the event can be divided into two distinct types: Those that deliver content and those that enable students to generate content and/or interact via mobile phone. Content delivery applications (which make up the majority) are largely designed to provide educational content chosen by educators to students who wouldn’t otherwise have access. Examples range from preloaded e-readers in Ghana to “internet a box” projects such as the eGranary.
Other projects are designed to enable interaction between students and to allow students to create original content and comment on content generated by their peers. In his introduction to the symposium, Paul Kim of Stanford University discussed what he called a “massive pedagogical paradigm shift” in which students could be empowered to create educational content and learn critical thinking skills in the process. Dr. Kim describes these types of curricula as “inquiries as learning projects”. One example involves students creating multimedia quizzes with mobile phones and then sharing these with fellow students, who would both answer the questions and rate the quality of the quizzes as a whole.Mobiles in School or Informal mLearning?
The mLearning tools discussed at the event also differ in whether they are designed to be used in schools or outside of class. Examples range from video instruction delivered to a teacher’s mobile phone and used in a classroom setting to interactive mathematics games designed for informal use by students through the popular mobile social network, Mxit. As USAID’s Education Strategy includes specific, measurable targets, most attendees were primarily interested in projects that either took place in schools or with active teacher participation.
However, some promising projects have been designed to reach students directly and to be used in out-of-school settings. Some of the more popular examples include Dr. Math and Yoza, each of which is accessed through MXit. These applications benefit from the popularity of MXit (there are currently more than 36 million MXit users -- many of whom are of school age) and, while not teacher directed, both programs use content taken directly from national education curricula. In fact, Dr. Math’s biggest supporter is now the South African Department of Education.
Integration with existing social networks, such as MXit has shown to have a huge impact on the adoption of these tools. Yoza, a program that allows students to read entire novels, short stories and poems and comment on them has had 300,000 complete reads of its materials and 5,400,000 pageviews. Yoza’s project leader, Steve Vosloo, notes the importance of finding students wherever they are, on whatever platform they are using. The program’s integration with mobile technology seems to raise the “cool” factor in the eyes of students, one of whom explained, “ I don’t like reading, but I do on my phone.”Time to Scale-Up?
One of primary questions asked by symposium organizers and participants was how to scale-up successful mLearning efforts. This proved to be a contentious issue, as some participants question whether this is an appropriate goal. USAID and other large development institutions are designed to reach large number of beneficiaries, so it is only natural that they seek to increase the scope of efforts that have shown the most success. However, evaluating success in mLearning has been difficult. Few projects have been evaluated by impartial third parties and measures of success vary greatly. While many implementers point to the number of users or downloads as a measure of success, clearly this does not necessarily provide evidence for their educational efficacy. Jacob Korenblum of Souktel noted, “numbers testify to scale, not quality”.
Matthew Kam, who works on a research project on unsupervised mobile learning in rural India (one of a relatively small number of mLearning studies that has used statistical methods and undergone peer review) attempted to determine the impact of his study’s educational game on exam scores of participants. He found that the gains shown by the strongest participating students correlated not with hours of play, but rather with the number of years these students had attended school. It's quite possible that the educational effect of some mLearning programs may potentially be overstated.
Other attendees questioned the concept of scale-up on different grounds. They argue that successful education programs need to be both culturally-specific and location-specific. Barbara Reynolds of UNICEF stresses that learning is part of a system of teachers, administrators, and others. Other attendees pointed out that decisions such as the language of educational content, especially in multilingual areas, can be a very political decision. Additionally, the prevalent technology (and often the price of various technologies) varies greatly from region to region, and the choice of mLearning tools must take this into account. For example, Steve Vosloo explained that, in South Africa, twenty MXit messages of one thousand characters each cost the same price as one SMS message.
John Traxler, Director of the Learning Lab at the University of Wolverhampton, argues against the concept of scale-up on a more fundamental level. He stresses the need to create and share knowledge that is specific to the learner. Traxler notes that most existing mLearning projects are based on a “transmissive model” akin to web 1.0 and points out that that the interactivity of mobile phones enables cultures not only to receive curricula, but also to share local knowledge.What’s Next?
It is clear that we are a long way from determining best practices in the field of mLearning. However, interest in this area is growing rapidly. As more pilot projects are being rolled out, there are now opportunites to incorporate rigorous evaluation measures from the outset, as has happened in other areas of mobiles-for-development. If participants in the International Mobiles for Education Symposium succeed in the creation of an M4Ed4Dev Alliance (as they intend to do), it will perhaps be an ideal body to share these findings and facilitate partnerships with local departments of education.
photo courtesy of Steve Vosloo4918831135_fc6ff42789.jpg Countries and Regions Sub-Saharan Africa Is Featured?: No
At MobileActive.org, we often write about mobile-based projects that other organizations and practitioners in the field carry out. We don't often highlight our our own mobile project implementations or discuss our own challenges and lessons, as many are sensitive in nature. Here, however, is a project we can talk about.
As part of a USAID-funded project, MobileActive.org provides new media consulting to NGOs and independent media organizations in developing countries to enhance their communication and coordination efforts. We work in countries as diverse as Zimbabwe, Bosnia, and Peru, Egypt, Guatemala, and Serbia. Recently, we assisted an organization in Benin, West Africa, implement an SMS election observation project. 300+ trained observers took part in monitoring the presidential and legislative elections in March and April 2011.
We worked with the local observation organization FORS Elections to help the organization use new media and mobile technology to report from the polls on the election process. FORS Elections has been monitoring elections for 15 years but wanted to use mobile data collection as part of the observation this year. We used a new mapping platform, Citivox, and FrontlineSMS for the delivery of SMS messages from the polls.Training, a Website, and a Monitoring System
The work with FORS Elections consisted of three components:
- Building a website for the project.
- Training staff and data collectors on how to use new media to communicate with the public and other civil society organizations about the election.
- Coaching the organization in setting up and customizing FrontlineSMS and Citivox's mapping and engagement platform for the election-day mobile data collection at polling stations.
The website was done via a customized WordPress theme. We chose WordPress for its strong community presence in Benin, especially among French speaking users, and the documentation and support for those unfamiliar with it. Because of the limited time afforded to the project, using Wordpress allowed us to get a site up quickly.
Training focused on working with FORS Elections staff to develop communication goals, update and run the site, and, more specifically, how to use Twitter and Facebook for engagement with the public both inside and outside of the country. Facebook is popular among people in Benin who are online, while Twitter is not well known and used primarily by expatriates.
We worked with FORS Elections to target the right people and focus communication goals and messages, as well as to evaluate the metrics and analytics to see how people were interacting with FORS Elections online.SMS Election Observation
We have previously written about systematic election observation in Nigeria, Lebanon, and elsewhere. We have also written about mobile data collection tools for election observation and the importance of not conflating citizen reporting with systematic election observation.
In Benin, the 2011 presidential election had been delayed twice over complaints the voter rolls were not accurate and a large number of voters had not been properly registered, and that preparations were not complete. The vote took place on March 13.
As a result, the political situation was, at times, confusing and chaotic with several postponements of the election day. While this made our work more complicated in some ways, it also allowed us to have more time to work with FORS Elections to set up the systems and train observers.
In choosing a platform, we initially looked at Ushahidi to map the text messages reporting polling station incidences. We also looked closely at FrontlineSMS as a low-cost SMS messaging platform. We decided against Ushahidi because of its lack of fine-grained permissions that we needed for a variety of security and political reasons. We worked closely with Citivox, the mapping and incidence reporting platform we decided on, to customize its platform, localize it into French, and set up appropriate permissions and security protocols. In summary, the Benin Matador project utilizes the following tools and platforms:
- We used FrontlineSMS as the SMS hub, installed and tested on 6 computers for incoming SMS and communications with the poll monitors and supervisors.
- Citivox is a Software As Service (SAS) online mapping application.
- GSM Modems: We used four USB GSM mobile broadband modems. We opted for HUAWEI E1550 models.
- SIM Cards: We used regular SIM cards used in any phone. The system relied on one SIM card from each of the following networks in Benin: BBCOM, MTN and Moov.
- Computers: All six computers met the requirements outlined on the FrontlineSMS website and connected to the Internet.
For the trained observers, we compiled a list of coded questions. The observers used basic Nokia feature phones to send in reports via SMS using one of four phone numbers we had set up. We also used a public number available for the public at large to crowdsource reports. The other numbers were private for the observers.
The general SMS observation system in place for FORS Elections worked as follows:
- Citizens and observers will send an SMS to one of four numbers.
- The SMS will be received via the SIM cards on the GSM modem connected to one of four computers with FrontlineSMS installed on them.
- FrontlineSMS will read the SMS from the SIM card, display on the monitor and pass its content to Citivox via an API.
- All SMS received by Citivox will be initially marked as private.
- A team of trained volunteers with access to Citivox’s administrative interface will analyze the received incidence messages and make them public.
FORS Elections chose to use FrontlineSMS to for receiving election observation reports, but we experienced significant problems with the application. As long as the Internet was up and running, Frontline was a very easy platform to use. It is also very user-friendly. But unfortunately, in Benin the Internet connections are spotty at times. As we experienced outages, FrontlineSMS had no way of tracking whicf messages were sent and which were not sent.
What exactly does this mean in terms of our project? During the presidential election, we received close to 3000 incidence and reporting messages but only about 500 messages made it to the Citivox website because we were not able to ascertain which messages had or had not been sent and there were no proper logs.
We also experienced problems with FrontlineSMS in handling the text message volume. In short, we found that FrontlineSMS is not built to handle massive amounts of data at the same time effectively, Because of these two major issues, we do not recommend it in election reporting projects where a high volume of SMS are sent and mapped via an online platform (especially not in areas where there is intermittent Internet access.)Other Challenges: Time, Resources, and Staff
In every election monitoring project, there are limitations involving time, resources, and staff. There is, in essence, never enough time, enough resources, or enough qualified staff. In the case of Benin, we were able to add a week of work because of the potponement of the elections but the time spent was still extremely limited.
We also needed more staff than we had available. For every response received from the trained observers, there was a necessary human element required in tagging each incoming report.
We didn’t have adequate time to set up Citivox entirely in the way we wanted to. The mapping application can be automated using keywords and tags, but this would have required more training and set-up time. Training staff was focused on the nuances of political communication as FORS Elections needed to stay neutral without supporting either the incumbent or the opposition. This was especially important because the election observation organization is still young, trying to gain exposure, and so every interaction on social media or online counted.Successes and Lessons
The biggest success of the project, surely, is the fact that the election, despite serious political differences, pre-election demonstrations, and small incidences of violence, was conducted largely peacefully -- even if the results were not initially accepted by the incumbent party involved. Unlike other election monitoring projects, the FORS Elections monitoring did not report on actual election results from the polls (often referreded to as parallel vote tabulation) but was focused on the conduct and process of the election and any observed voting irregularities.
As far as lesson is concerned, it is important to put in place systems that are useful but user-friendly enough to be maintained by the local election monitoring organization after the outside trainers leave. We focused on leaving good practices, trained staff, and documentation in place in Benin - in short, we hope for greater capacity for the organization to run other similar projects in the future.
As far as the technical problems were concerned, we would recommend relying less on sometimes unreliable infrastructure and hosting mission-critical components with mutlitple fail-safe backups in case the local infrastructure is unreliable or when there are network shutdowns. Eliminating single points of failure is critical.
We would recommend working with Citivox again, as the platform is extremely versatile, user-friendly, and localizable. We would not recommend working with FrontlineSMS again when there is a high volume of inbound or outbound SMS in short time periods, and when there are API transactions involved. We have seen other organizations have good experiences with using customized versions of RapidSMS (such as one of the largest SMS-reporting observations conducted to date in Nigeria) that held up well to large volume transactions.Screen shot 2011-08-23 at 2.10.39 PM.png Countries and Regions Benin AttachmentSize CitiVox-Benin.pdf1.55 MB Is Featured?: No
Telcos or mobile operators have been in the news lately, implicated in the suppression of communications, tracking and surveillance of pro-democracy and human rights activists, and in their close collaboration with repressive regimes and their security apparatuses around the world. Now there is a new initiative spearheaded by advocacy organization Access Now that advocates for mobile operators to sign a set of five principles focused on human and democratic rights in return for their licenses.Nothing New: How Cozy Telcos Are With Repressive Regimes
Vodafone's recent decision to shut down its communications network in Egypt and the delivery of pro-government propaganda via text message over its network made the news but that was just the tip of the iceberg. The examples abound: Uganda operators monitored and blocked certain SMS keywords in the advent of the recent election there, pro-Zanu propaganda is widely delivered over Zimbabwean operator networks, Russian mobile operators agreed to 'police' the Internet and their networks at the behest of the Russian government, and Belarussian telcos routinely supply information to the security police, including location information of known political activists.
This close collaboration of many operators with repressive states has been going on for some time but there is now a new activist movement forming, holding telcos accountable and to a higher standard. Led by activist shareholders and advocacy organizations like Access, activists point out that the negative publicity of this corporate behavior carries financial implications that pose a risk to telco investors.The Costs to Mobile Operators: Reputation, Legal, Financial
Vodafone is a case in point. Mainstream and social media was abuzz with condemnation of the close cooperation of Vodafone Egypt with the then-regime; there are legal cases filed in Egypt alleging criminal liability in the injury and killing of protestors as a result of the communications shutdown. It has also been suggested that Vodafone may be liable in the United State under the Alien Tort Claims Act for aiding and abetting violations of international human rights law. Telcos also incur financial risks and lost revenue during a sudden shutdown as ordered by a state entity that are detrimental to shareholders and corporate revenues (although the exact costs that Vodafone incurred as a result of complying with the Egyptian order are not yet public.)
Despite the reputational, legal, and financial costs, it is unlikely that mobile operators suddenly see the light. As Access notes,
"despite the events in Egypt and their obvious impact, it is likely that telecoms will continue to operate under similar licenses in other repressive regimes. The risks to telecoms and investors... means the integration of international norms during the negotiation of operating license agreements should be a priority for investors and telecoms."The Five-Step Telecom Action Plan
In response, Access and Fair Pensions have come out with a detailed set of principles, "Five-Step Telecom Action Plan" (pdf) that is specifically tailored to mobile operators. Modeled after the Global Network Initiative's (GNI) Principles that have been signed by the likes of Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, the Five-Step Telecom Action plan contains principles that are specifically targeting mobile operators rather than conflating them with the internet companies GNI has focused on.
We are detailing these principles below in their entirety but in short, they are:
- Providers should retain complete control over their network at all times and ensure
that users always have access to it.
- Providers have a duty to protect their users.
- Providers should uphold principles of non-discrimination and should abstain from filtering their networks, except for the purposes of network security and management.
- Providers should uphold principles of transparency, accountability, appealability, and due process in all of their actions and transactions.
- Providers should commit to using spectrum allocation in a judicious and equitable manner.
For more on Access' campaign targeting Vodafone in particular, see here.The Telecom Action Plan: Five Steps Every Rights-Respecting Telecom Should Take
1. Providers should retain complete control over their network at all times and ensure that users always have access to it. In practice, this means:
- Resisting any efforts to give governments control over network infrastructure – either technically or through regulatory authority.
- Ensuring that in times of crisis, users always have the right to access the internet and mobile phone services.
- Ensuring that users have the ability to call for emergency assistance at all times, even when they fail to pay their bill, or at moments of crisis.
- Refusing to act as a spokesperson of a government or the regime in power (e.g., by sending pro- or anti-government text messages). Government use of a network for emergency instructions and AMBER Alert-like messages is acceptable, but these messages must be sent by the provider itself at its discretion, and the sender clearly identified.
2. Providers have a duty to protect their users. In practice, this means:
- Encrypting and anonymizing user data to ensure user privacy and security both on their personal devices and in centralized databases where user data is aggregated. This includes an obligation to always transmit user data over encrypted channels.
- Actively protecting networks from hacks, malware, spam, and other vulnerabilities.
- Reporting any data breaches to users and relevant government authorities with as littl delay as possible.
- Never providing governments with blanket “backdoor” access to their networks. Government may have legitimate reasons to monitor the communications of suspected individuals for law enforcement and national security purposes. However, any proposed monitoring must be consistent with international human rights law as set out in Step 1b, including ensuring that:
- any such surveillance may only be conducted with a warrant or other court order based on probable cause;
- providers should only give government access to individual users (one warrant, one user);
- providers should never grant universal access to all of their users’ communications;
- in giving governments access to user communications, providers should interpret requests as narrowly as possible, require all requests to be made in writing, and require a human employee to be present/involved whenever user data is accessed by government.
3. Providers should uphold principles of non-discrimination and abstain from filtering their networks except for the purposes of network security and management. In practice, this means:
- Treating all data traffic on an equitable basis no matter where it originated or the type of data.
- Rejecting demands to engage in filtering for political, social, or conflict purposes, including and especially during moments of political turmoil. Any attempt to filter must be strictly consistent with international law and providers should follow the guidelines set out in Step 2d, which pertains to government requests to surveil users.
- Refraining from filtering internet technologies (e.g. VoIP services and circumvention software).
- Ensuring that all requests from governments regarding content manipulation (take-downs,filtering, etc.) and network shut downs follow established procedures which comply with Step 3, and disclosing such actions to users as soon as possible (ideally before any such actions occur).
4. Providers should uphold principles of transparency, accountability, appealability, and due process in all of their actions/transactions. In practice, this means:
- Disclosing operating licenses wherever possible. When public disclosure is proscribed by law, providers should engage a respected independent body to do a human rights audit.
- Having clear guidelines with respect to law enforcement access to user data, and a mechanism to challenge such requests.
- Having a clear appeals process and responding to appeals promptly.
- Offering clear warning and response mechanisms both before and after any proposed account deactivation or content removal, and providing for intermediate steps or an escalation process during the content or account review process.
- Providing clear channels through which users can contact the provider with complaints, questions, or other issues.
- Accurately advertising the features of services offered (e.g. actual download/upload speeds).
5. Providers should commit to using spectrum allocations in a judicious and equitable manner. In practice, this means:
- Sharing spectrum to maximize the benefit to a nation’s inhabitants and promote innovation and economic growth.
- Selling or returning at cost to a nation’s government unused spectrum that the provider does not plan to use.
Access notes further that telcos should engage in multi stakeholder collaboration including with civil society as a partner in the design and implementation of these 5 Steps. They should also establish standing channels of communication with civil society organizations to inform and advise on good practice and human rights issues. Access believes that telcos should join the Global Network Initiative, upon which this Telco Action Plan draws much of its inspiration, and be subject to assessment and evaluation of the implementation of its principles and implementation guidelines.
Photo courtesy flickr user Daveness_98.3253842434_b84d76ab72.jpg Is Featured?: No
A just-published guide from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) is all about making media mobile, specifically at newspapers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The full report is available for download here.
Billed as a guidebook, and not a one-size-fits-all rulebook, the guide aims to help Sub-Saharan African news publishers develop and implement mobile services. The report is based on a series of on-site interviews with newspapers in Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa, including The Observer and the Daily Monitor in Uganda, The Standard and the Daily Nation in Kenya, and Grocott's Mail, Mail & Guardian, Avusa Group, and News24.com in South Africa.
Though the primary audience of the guidebook is media managers, there are lessons and tips for anyone interested in the current state of and potential future for mobile print media in Sub-Saharan Africa.
We would have wished that there was a greater focus on online media as the guide is almost entirely focused on print. Given the fast growth of online media outlets in a number of African media markets, this is an unfortunate limitation.
At the same time, the guide provides a detailed landscape of mobile telephony in Africa, including usage and infrastructure and access points (including SMS, mobile Internet and data, Sim Tool Kit, USSD, voice and interactive voice response). See explanations and examples of these access points in the Mobile Media Toolkit Glossary, here.
The guidebook also addresses conditions for mobile business in Africa, an important consideration for print news outlets and organizations. Media companies around the world are in a period of flux and changing business models, and this WAN-IFRA publication helps address important questions such as what are existing business models and how can a media company finance mobile services? The pros and cons of premium SMS, mobile money, and mobile advertising are discussed in the guidebook.
The guide suggests several important considerations to consider in implementing mobile services. A successful mobile media strategy should address several questions, including:
- Who is the audience?
- What are the audience needs?
- What do you want to achieve with mobile?
- What services could you offer?
- How do you offer it, or how do you "mobilize" properly?
- How will you finance these services?
- Is your media house prepared?
- How can mobile fit into the overall digital media strategy?
This guidebook is a great resource - and one that complements our recently launched Mobile Media Toolkit. Taking the larger lessons and tips from the guidebook, the Toolkit is a logical "next step" and includes more mobile media case studies from around the world, tactical tips, and how-to guides. The guidebook emphasizes the importance of and potential for mobile tech in print media in Africa; the Toolkit helps show you how to Make Media Mobile.Screen shot 2011-08-09 at 3.21.25 PM.png Countries and Regions Sub-Saharan Africa Is Featured?: No
Today's Mobile Minute brings you news about Apple's profit share, the Atlantic Magazine's case for texting, the launch of free SMS in Zimbabwe, a look at how mobile device users choose video apps, and a report on malware in Android's marketplace.
- PC Mag reports that Apple's iOS, despite being only 20% of the world's smartphone market, receives roughly two-thirds of mobile phone profits. The magazine breaks down the data in several charts, showing operating profits across quarters, and how operating shares have changed between 2007 and now (in Q2 2007, Apple had 1% of the market and the most popular vendor, Nokia, had 55%; by Q2 2011, Apple has 66% of the market).
- Curious about why SMS matters? Check out The Atlantic's "Why Texting is the Most Important Information Service in the World." The article pulls together a lot of statistics and real-world examples to demonstrate how SMS is used around the world. From government initiatives in the Philippines (the article reports "87 percent of Filipinos prefer communicating with the government via SMS, compared to 11 percent with an Internet-preference"), to mobile payments in Afghanistan, to agricultural info and help lines in Uganda, the piece looks at how SMS is changing the way people use their phones to interact with the world around them.
- In other SMS news, the company Free SMS Zimbabwe has launched a new initiative that combines advertising with texting. Users of the service can send an SMS with a maximum of 100 characters and the other 60 will be an advertisement; users can send 100 character SMSs for free as the company subsidizes the cost through the ads.
- When choosing mobile video apps, a Nielsen Wire survey reveals that the most important factor is "free/low subscription rates." Roughly 63% of respondents chose cost as a very important factor when choosing a mobile video application, more than other factors like video selection, presence of advertisements, or the ability to sync multiple devices.
- The 2011 Mobile Threat Report, a new study from Lookout Mobile Security, found some big security threats to Android users. eWeek reports that "Android handset users are 2.5 times more likely to be affected by malware today than they were 6 months ago, as anywhere from 500,000 to 1 million users were impacted by malware on their smartphone or tablet computer."
[Mobile Minute Disclaimer: The Mobile Minute is a quick round-up of interesting stories that have come across our RSS and Twitter feeds to keep you informed of the rapid pace of innovation. Read them and enjoy them, but know that we have not deeply investigated these news items. For more in-depth information about the ever-growing field of mobile tech for social change, check out our blog posts, white papers and research, how-tos, and case studies.]
Image courtesy Flickr user QiFei
MobileActive.org recently launched the Mobile Media Toolkit, a resource for professional journalists and citizen reporters who want to use mobile phones to create and share news about the world around them. If you want to learn more about using your phone as a media tool, the Mobile Media Toolkit has guides, how-tos, and real-world case studies that can help you learn the best tips, tricks, and tools for mobile reporting.
One of the sections of the Mobile Media Toolkit focuses on creating content – using a mobile phone for photography, audio, and video recording. The section focuses on basic feature phones and smartphones, so the content is applicable to a large number of users.
Mobile phones, as an audio medium, are excellent tools for creating audio content. From radio broadcasts, to podcasts, to audio slideshows, anyone can use a mobile phone for audio reporting. In order to use a phone for audio reporting, users can do any of three things:
- Use the calling function of the phone to leave an audio message on a service that records your call.
- Record audio directly onto your phone through its microphone.
- Use software or applications to record phone conversations.
While creating audio, it's important to have a good recording environment, which means minimal background noise and ambient sound (such as from air conditioners or fans in a room, or traffic in outdoor settings). Using an extrenal microphone (rather than the built-in mic on the phone) can help cut down on ambient noise as it picks up sound more directly. For recording phone calls, you should warn your interviewee first, as in many states and countries, it is legally required to tell someone before recording them.
Using mobile phones to record audio is simple and sharable, and should be a skill in the repetoire of any mobile journalist. The Mobile Media Toolkit has much more information on recording on audio, including how to edit audio, how to publish and share it, and case studies on how different organizations around the world are using mobile audio reports.
Videos are a great way to document the world around you, and the ubiquity of mobile phones with video capabilities means that the opportunity for journalists and citizen reporters to capture great video is always growing.
Creating good videos off a mobile phone can add a dynamic boost to news reports, or present a stand-alone story. When recording video, try to some of the Mobile Media Toolkit's advice for creating videos:
- Hold the phone in landscape mode (held horizontally rather than vertically) while recording; most online video players are designed for landscape videos, so filming in this format means you'll get the most from the scene.
- Keep the camera stable; stability is key for smooth video. Use a tripod if you have one, if not, then steady your arms on something solid or film in a sitting or kneeling position.
- Use an external microphone for better sound quality.
- Check the lighting. If you're filming outside, keep the sun behind your subject; if filming inside, then make sure your subject is lit from multiple angles to avoid shadows.
- Film on the highest resolution you have available – if you are not directly uploading/live-streaming the video from your mobile phone, you can always compress the video later on a computer when editing if you need a smaller file size.
There are several options for editing mobile videos; some phones (like the iPhone and the Nokia N series) have built-in editing packages, and smartphone users with iPhones or Windows phones can download third party editing applications. Users can also upload the videos to a computer for richer editing options.
Much of the advice for taking pictures is similar to the advice for taking good videos:
- Make sure you have lots of light on your subject to compensate for the small phone lens.
- Keep your phone stable in order to reduce blur.
- Keep the lens clean. The lens on camera phones can get dirty quickly as it is often less protected then the lens on a traditional camera. Remove dirt and debris so that your pictures aren't marred.
- Try not to use the zoom on the camera; photos will be in a higher resolution if you move in to take the picture or later crop the photo in photo editing software.
The Mobile Media Toolkit has links to reviews of the best camera phones, helpful videos on taking good pictures, and advice on the kinds of editing applications and software.
The section also has information for reporting from smartphones, covering everything from how smartphones can be used for live and semi-live reporting, social media applications, personal management (such as taking notes, recording calls, or scheduling interviews), and a summary of applications for a variety of handsets (Symbian, RIM, Android, iPhone, and Windows).
To learn more, check out the Mobile Media Toolkit for more information on creating, editing, and sharing content with your mobile phone.MMTK_01 (3).jpg
This August has lots of mobile events for everyone from developers, to researchers, to business owners. Mobile events are happening all over the world this month, so check out the list below to see what's happening near you!
5-7 August MakerFaire (Kumasi, Ghana) Applications are still being accepted for a mini-MakerFaire event in Kumasi, Ghana. Hosted by the International Development Design Summit, the two-day event allows participants to show off their ideas and projects for the ICT world.
18-19 August International m4Ed4Dev Symposium (Bethesda, USA) This USAID event will "focus on potential areas where mobile technology can help achieve education strategy goals with a particular focus in two core areas: literacy and on-demand access to materials, and improved education data for education system strengthening."
19 August All Things Mobile Conference (Denver, USA) This business-oriented event looks at how companies can incorporate mobile applications into their work, and how mobile devices can be used for business.
23-24 August Mobile Entertainment Africa (Cape Town, South Africa) This two-day event is all about entertainment! Different panel discussions cover everything from mobile television, to music delivery systems, to mobile gaming – and how mobiles are changing Africa's approach to entertainment content delivery.
26-28 August Social Dev Chicago (Chicago, USA) Social Dev Camp brings together app and platform developers for a weekend of discussions (on topics such as "Turning Mistakes into Success," "In-App Payments," and "Civic Apps and Open Data") along with a hackathon where developers can collaborate on projects.
Multiple Dates Mobile Monday (worldwide) Mobile Mondays are get togethers for people interested in mobile technology. Local groups host events around the world on different dates, so check out the site to see what's happening near you this month!
1-2 September Apps World Asia (Suntec, Singapore) This conference has workshops and exhibitions where developers can learn new skills and demonstrate multi-platform apps.
Registration is open Tech4Africa (Johannesburg, South Africa) Although this event isn't until 27-28 October, registration is now open for Tech4Africa, a conference that looks at mobile, web, and emerging technology in Africa.
Do you know of any M4D events happening in your area? Let us know in the comments!
Photo via Flickr user Leo Reynolds5490146226_1dfddf0edf.jpg Countries and Regions Asia North America Sub-Saharan Africa
The Mobile Minute: RIM Layoffs, Smartphone Penetration in Asia, and the Growth of Near Field Communication Payments
The Mobile Minute is back with the latest mobile news. What's happening today? Nielsen Wire looks at smartphone penetration in Asia, RIM lays off 11% of its worldwide workforce, CGAP investigates how network operators can incorporate mobile financial services into their operations, [x]Cube Labs turns Android's history into an infographic, and Read Write Web looks into the latest developments in the use of near field communication technology for mobile payments.
- Curious about the smartphone market in Asia? Nielsen Wire looks at the rapid growth of smartphones in Asia. Although current smartphone penetration in the region is less than 20%, a Nielsen survey of consumers revealed that nearly half of respondents plan to buy a smartphone within the next year. Nielsen Wire investigates what the anticipated increase in smartphone ownership will mean for how people access the Internet, how network operators will price their data plans, and how mobile advertising will adjust to a new market.
- Wired reports that RIM (the makers of BlackBerry devices) announced on July 25th their plans to lay off 2000 employees, roughly 11% of its worldwide workforce. The move comes as RIM has lost market share to the growing popularity of newer operating systems like Apple's iOS and Google's Android.
- CGAP's "How to Run with Mobile Money and Not Fall" article examines how mobile network operators can incorporate mobile financial services into their current business models. Some of the advice for successfully incorporating mobile money services includes using multiple distribution methods (such as both on-phone purchases and traditional street airtime sellers) and getting support from/sharing knowledge among multiple departments.
- If you like charts and graphs, check out this history of the Android operating system. Covering everything from its founding date (2003), to the Google buyout (2005), to the launch of the first Android device (2008), to present day releases, the infographic maps out each update in Android's development.
- Near field communication (NFC) technology allows smartphone users to transmit information to nearby contacts. Read Write Web recently investigated some of the new developments in the NFC field for turning smartphones into credit cards. The first article looks at how the company Isis partnered with four major American credit card companies (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover) to develop wireless payments. The second article looks at the Jumio payment company's launch of Netswipe, which "turns any webcam into a credit card reader, both on the desktop and on mobile."
Countries and Regions
[Mobile Minute Disclaimer: The Mobile Minute is a quick round-up of interesting stories that have come across our RSS and Twitter feeds to keep you informed of the rapid pace of innovation. Read them and enjoy them, but know that we have not deeply investigated these news items. For more in-depth information about the ever-growing field of mobile tech for social change, check out our blog posts, white papers and research, how-tos, and case studies.
Image courtesy Flickr user QiFei
The Mobile Media Toolkit helps you make sense of the growing role of mobile tech in media. The Toolkit provides how-to guides, mobile tools, and case studies on how mobile phones can (and are) being used for reporting, news broadcasting, and citizen media. We cover it all, from basic feature phones to the latest smartphone applications.
It's an exciting day for us here at MobileActive.org as we launch the Mobile Media Toolkit. For the last year we have been interviewing people, researching projects, and testing tools, to bring you this free resource. It is designed to help you evaluate and effectively deploy the right tools for reporting and sharing content on and to mobile devices.MMTK_01 (3).jpg
We are developing a global database of SIM cards registrations by country, and we need your help. Please fill out this short survey. We ask you a few questions about a particular country's requirements.
Photo courtesy flickr user bfishshadow.4931375578_925e9eb065_b.jpg
The conversation takes place here.
With the growing use of mobile phones for citizen media comes new risks, challenges and opportunities. This online dialogue is a space to discuss stories, tactics, and resources for using mobile phones for citizen media, as well as a space to discuss mobile risk assessment and security. Jin the discussion on July 27 to share your stories, ideas and resources!
You can find more information on how to participate here.Screen shot 2011-07-26 at 9.03.20 PM.png
We spoke with Prairie Summer and Graham Gardner of Equal Access to learn more about that organization’s work integrating educational radio broadcasts with mobile-based tools such as SMS and IVR. As they explain, this combination has enabled them to better tailor their message to their their audience and has allowed for a unique form of interactive communication.
Equal Access creates communications strategies and outreach that address the most critical challenges affecting people in the developing world. Their work has focused on communications around issues such as women and girls' rights, democracy and governance, and education.
Photo courtesy Equal Access.Screen shot 2011-07-26 at 12.33.30 PM.png Countries and Regions Afghanistan Cambodia Chad Nepal Niger
MobileActive.org Interview with Apala Lahiri Chavan on Contextual Innovation and Mobile Technology Design for Emerging Markets
MobileActive.org interviewed Apala Lahiri Chavan, an expert in Design for Emerging Markets. She is the current Chief Oracle and Innovator of Human Factors International. Through her experience working in the fields of human and computer interaction and user experience with a particular focus on emerging regions, Lahiri Chavan and her team have done cutting edge work in the design of interactive systems. More information about Lahiri Chavan and the work she has done can be found here.
In our interview, Lahiri Chavan talks to us about the importance of paying attention to contextual user needs when designing mobile technologies for users in emerging markets. She started her career as a computer programmer, although soon realized the lack of user-centered research employed in the development of interactive systems. This then motivated her to want to be an ‘advocate for the user’ as she explains in the interview. She wanted to start designing information systems that people could intuitively understand. Her passion to work with people in developing countries is what led her to the field of Contextual Innovation.
Contextual Innovations is a "systematic multidisciplinary process of inquiry into the new frontiers of user system interactions. It allows you to gain practical knowledge about your target markets to develop entirely novel, more useful and effective products and services." The importance of Contextual innovation is that is pay’s special attention to the unique user requirements of developing regions such has high illiteracy rates, multilingualism, and dialectal variation. Lahiri Chavan also also speaks about the importance of engaging citizens of emerging markets in to the design process.
To get a more detailed account of the phrase “Contextual Innovation’’ see Lahiri Chavan video about Design for Emerging Markets. She talks about the design process that must be employed when designing systems and products for users of developing regions. In this animation Lahiri Chavan goes through several processes of design innovations and calls attention to the importance of cross-cultural challenges.