Katrin is the co-author of the new Wireless Technology for Social Change:
Trends in NGO Mobile Use, released by the United Nations Foundation and
The Vodafone Group Foundation.
Wireless Technology for Social Change: Trends in NGO Mobile Use was written by Sheila Kinkade (ShareIdeas.org) and Katrin Verclas (MobileActive.org), and commissioned by the United Nations
Foundation-Vodafone Group Foundation Technology Partnership. The report examines emerging
trends in “mobile activism” by looking at 11 case studies of groups active in the areas of public health, humanitarian assistance and environmental conservation.
Among the programs highlighted are two conflict prevention projects, both active in Kenya. Oxfam-Great Britain and the Kenyan umbrella group PeaceNet created a text messaging ‘nerve center’ that collected alerts about violent outbreaks during the recent civil unrest and mobilized local ‘peace committees.’ The project served as a vital tool for conflict management and prevention by providing a hub for real-time information about actual and planned attacks between rival ethnic and political groups.
The GSM Association, together with a handful of non-profit and private sector groups in Kenya, developed another conflict prevention project that allows farmers to preserve their crops while protecting wildlife. The program monitors instances when elephants approach farmed land, and provides an early warning system via mobile that is reducing the incidence of human-elephant conflict in an area where as many as five humans and 10 elephants are killed each year.
The report, the second in the Access to Communications Publication Series, produces studies that give governments, NGOs and the private sector research and recommendations on how to use technology and telecom tools to effectively address some of the world’s toughest challenges.
The report also highlights the results of a global web-based survey of NGO mobile technology use developed by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, and distributed via the email networks of eight partner groups reaching a geographically and thematically diverse group of NGOs: Idealist.org, InterAction, International Youth Foundation, MobileActive.org, New Tactics in Human Rights, OneWorld, SANGONeT, and ShareIdeas. Responses were collected December 10th, 2007 through January 13th, 2008, and generated 560 surveys completed by representatives of NGOs working in all parts of the world.
The global survey found that 86% of non-governmental organization (NGO) employees use mobile technology in their work, and 25% believe it has revolutionized the way their organization or project works. While the most common uses of mobile technology by NGO workers are voice calls (90%) and text messaging (83%), more sophisticated uses, such as mapping (10%), data analysis (8%) and inventory management (8%) also were reported.
Live Earth’s 4-country mobile program is one of the initiatives highlighted in the report.
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