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In the Developing World, Smart Design Can Make the Difference Between Life and Death The Passive Vaccine Storage Device from Global Good stays cold for more than a month (top view). Christian Weber Let's take a minute to praise drip tape. You can find it at your local gardening center—thin, perforated plastic strips that deliver water directly to a plant's roots. Drip tape is one of the biggest advancements in farming of the past 80 years, radically reducing the water industrial farmers need and enabling our food supply to skyrocket. We take it for granted because, like many great designs, it is so simple and commonplace.

A Useful Data Set on Political Violence that Almost No One Is Using For the past 10 years, the CIA has overtly funded the production of a publicly available data set on certain atrocities around the world that now covers the period from January 1995 to early 2014 and is still updated on a regular basis. If you work in a relevant field but didn’t know that, you’re not alone. The data set in question is the Political Instability Task Force’s Worldwide Atrocities Dataset, which records information from several international press sources about situations in which five or more civilians are deliberately killed in the context of some wider political conflict. Each record includes information about who did what to whom, where, and when, along with a brief text description of the event, a citation for the source article(s), and, where relevant, comments from the coder. The data are updated monthly, although those updates are posted on a four-month lag (e.g., data from January become available in May).

Apps To achieve our goal of a comprehensive, privacy- and security-focused communications solution, Guardian is driven both by internal development and the open-source community at large. In cases where a viable, vetted, and usable product already fills the communications needs of our target audience, we will recommend apps that work. Our Apps How a tweet brought makeshift 911 services to life in Haiti Haiti’s earthquake devastated not only lives. It destroyed whatever emergency services the barely functioning government had to offer. But in less than five days, a makeshift version of 911 sprung to life. It’s a striking story of how a few tech-savvy social entrepreneurs, receptive ears in the U.S. government and hundreds of Haitian Creole-speaking strangers crowdsourced from around the world were able to help people on the ground get food or medical attention. Hours after the earthquake struck Port-au-Prince, 23-year-old Josh Nesbit (pictured right), who heads a non-profit delivering health care in Sub-Saharan Africa through mobile phones, thought that an SMS gateway would be critical in Haiti. He sent a tweet out asking for help.

Mobile phones bring revolution to developing world We all know how fast technology can change markets and businesses. Now the web and the mass proliferation of mobile phones, as well as falling costs for all kinds of technologies, are allowing rapid change to affect more than just the developed world. And advances in technology and the falling cost of delivery are driving big corporations as well as entrepreneurs to take new or renewed interest in solving some of the most seemingly intractable issues we face as a global community, from health care to education, from economic development and rolling out affordable alternative energy to coping with the social and economic fallout from natural disasters.

Evaluating UAVs for Humanitarian Response The Humanitarian UAV Network is carrying out an evaluation of UAVs and related technologies for use in humanitarian settings. The related technologies being evaluated include cameras, payload units, image processing & analysis software. As a first step, we have created an evaluation framework based on parameters relevant for field-based deployments of UAVs by humanitarian organizations. Before moving to the next step in the evaluation—identifying which UAVs and related technologies to evaluate—we want to make sure that we’re on the right track as far as our evaluation framework goes. So the purpose of this blog post is to seek feedback on said framework.

Mechanical Turk to Crowdsource Humanitarian Response « iRe I’m increasingly intrigued by the idea of applying Mechanical Turk services to humanitarian response. Mechanical Turk was first developed by Amazon to crowdsource and pay for simple tasks. An excellent example of a Mechanical Turk service in the field of ICT for Development (ICT4D) is txteagle, a platform that enables mobile phone subscribers in developing countries to earn money and accumulate savings by completing simple SMS-based micro-tasks for large corporate clients. txteagle has been used to translate pieces of text by splitting them into individual words and sending these out by SMS. Subscribers can then reply with the translation and earn some money in the process. This automatic compensation system uses statistical machinery to automatically evaluate the value of submitted work. In Haiti, Samasource and Crowdflower have partnered with Ushahidi and FrontlineSMS to set up a Mechanical Turk service called “Mission 4636“.

Seven ways mobile phones have changed lives in Africa Mobile phone technology has grown significantly over the past decadeNigeria has close to 100M mobile phone lines, making it Africa's largest telecoms marketWe look at ways that mobile phones have changed lives in Africa Mobile phones have become an essential part of our everyday life. Through a special month-long series, "Our Mobile Society," we examine how phones and tablets are changing the way we live. Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) -- A little over a decade ago there were about 100,000 phone lines in Nigeria, mostly landlines run by the state-owned telecoms behemoth, NITEL. Today NITEL is dead, and Nigeria has close to 100 million mobile phone lines, making it Africa's largest telecoms market, according to statistics by the Nigerian Communications Commission. Across the rest of the continent the trends are similar: between 2000 and 2010, Kenyan mobile phone firm Safaricom saw its subscriber base increase in excess of 500-fold.

Growing the Commons as Meta-narrative? How about 'Growing the Commons' as a meta-narrative for a paradigm shift? Ann Pendleton-Jullian in her Power and Ecosystems of Change talk suggests that a new type of metanarrative is much needed to change the world. Something strategically ambiguous towards which to head despite our differences, and that would aggregate coherence from a variety of disparate micro narratives that shape events and build trust at the grassroots level. She talks about networks and how network architectures change power structures, and describes ecosystems of change as scaffold to aggregate different kinds of powers and mecanisms that are out there, and support the emergence of the new until it becomes strong enough. The idea of growing or expanding the commons as meta-narrative and the type of ecosystem of change that could support it are worth looking into.

Project 4636 InfoGraphic Ushahidi Blog Hot on the heals of Brian’s excellent summary of the 4636 Project development efforts, I’d like to join in with a little info-graphic of sorts. My goal in putting this together is to present an easy-to-understand “big-picture” graphic that illustrates how a simple SMS, sent from a Haitian in need, can be transformed into a powerful resource that fuels the crisis response and recovery effort. A Quick Recap of Project 4636 And here’s the full graphic: Google Announces Android One Standard for Affordable Devices Google has revealed a new program called Android One which will specify a set of hardware and software guidelines for device makers to adhere to if they wish to attain official ‘Android One’ status. Announced today at Google’s I/O conference, Android One guidelines are open to all device makers but are really intended to help cut down on the cost and time required to build an affordable smartphone in a short space of time. For the end user, Android One will mean a more unified Android experience free from manufacturer’s own skins, like TouchWiz or Sense, fewer pre-installed apps and timely software updates.

'Open Source' Resources for major Disaster & Emergency Management Situations As everyone knows by now, the super storm known as 'Hurricane Sandy' has caused considerable devastation across the East Coast of the United States and all the way up to the Great Lakes region. The effects of the storm will continue to be felt for days and weeks as major portions of the East Coast are without electricity and flooding is expected to continue for days. Under these circumstances it seemed appropriate to put together a listing of open source applications that have been successfully used in emergencies and disaster recovery all over the world. In times of man-made crises or natural disasters there are a range of organizations, web sites, open source tools, mobile apps, and more that might be of use to first responders and citizens in general. Check out some of the following resources: Please let us know about other Disaster & Emergency Management resources you would like to recommend to others.

Unprecedented Role SMS in Disaster Response – Cross-posted on Patrick Meier’s blog iRevolution. What if we could communicate with disaster affected communities in real-time just days after a major disaster like the quake in Haiti? That is exactly what happened thanks to a partnership between the Emergency Information Service (EIS), InSTEDD, Ushahidi, Haitian Telcos and the US State Department. Just 4 days after the earthquake, Haitians could text their location and urgent needs to “4636” for free. Is Facebook Zero the Future of Public Internet Access? Access to information is both empowerment and development. When two thirds of the world’s poor still lack access to the Internet, but three fourths have a mobile phone, it makes sense to try to capitalize on mobile technology in order to increase access and connectivity. Enter Facebook Zero