Really interesting article of about Facebook helping UN to provide Refugees free internet access to contact family and friends and access information of local resources and services available.
Yes it was held 2 years ago but the essence of this conference further highlights the opportunities of using smart phones in a humanitarian crisis. NOMAD, the company said:
"These new features will add to an already impressive array of functions smartphone-based data collection tools are allowing aid workers to perform in the field. These include: the ability to snap pictures, record GPS coordinates and other spatial data for maps and graphics, scan bar codes for keeping track of inventories, input survey responses gathered in remote field locations and transmit all this data to secure servers and command centers instantaneously. The less time it takes to collect, upload and analyse data, the quicker humanitarian agencies can understand and respond to the needs of poor communities or populations devastated by natural disasters or violent conflict."
NOMAD used the event to mainly focus on using technology to improve efficiencies of cataloguing, monitoring and the distribution of aid. A really interesting read: http://www.elrha.org/hif-blog/smartening-nomad-2013-paris-workshop/
Another great quote from NOMAD, "The advantages of using mobile tools for data collection in humanitarian and development setting is increasingly harder to disregard."
For more information about NOMAD visit their website at: http://humanitarian-nomad.org
I will be contacting them to try and arrange a meeting.
In dangerous places around the world, where soldiers or police officers may be committing human rights abuses, a mobile phone has become a key weapon. In the hands of campaigners and victims of abuse, it can provide valuable video evidence of crimes.
A pop up power station which filled with helium and raised high into the sky. The device has a wind turbine attached to create energy and it can also be used to increase cellular and 3G reception to mobile phones on the ground.
The Nokē U-Lock is a fantastic idea which combines security and the smart phone. I love the simplicity of it, I really like that it can be tracked and also that it has an alarm system installed. Very impressive stuff! Watch the video below. I want one!
Over time the focus of my blog has naturally evolved and processed. The blog started out looking at FibreForm as a material and considering ideas around this area. Initially I was keen to push my final project forward using FibreForm.
As my blog has progressed I have become more interested in Humanitarian opportunities which led me to look at the following 5 areas:
FOOD & WATER
After looking at all of these areas in depth I have become more and more excited about how smart phone technologies could be used in Humanitarian situations. I am very interesting in pursuing concepts and ideas around smart phone technologies and how they can provide assistance or support to individuals / Communities in new and innovative ways. (Humanitarian or otherwise)
For this reason I have decided to change my working title to HUMANITARIAN INNOVATION to ASSISTANCE FROM A DISTANCE / APPS FOR HUMANITY
My 5 Project 2 ideas will all be around this area.
The Brownie Points concept is inspired by the 'Pay it Forward' concept but is quite different. This idea allows anyone to donate their time or skills services no matter how small. Brownie points are earned and can be redeemed within the app/website. For instance a Piano Teacher could give 5 hours of lessons to the Brownie Points website and earn 5 brownie points. These points could be used to redeem 5 hours from a landscape gardener or take 5 hours of art lessons in the community. All the services would be on a local level and no money would change hands. This service encourages community involvement and allows individuals to receive and give services for free.
Thanks for this article Toby heheh! Very impressive stuff!
"The technology uses microbes which feed on urine for their own growth and maintenance. The MFC is in effect a system which taps a portion of that biochemical energy used for microbial growth, and converts that directly into electricity - what we are calling urine-tricity or pee power. This technology is about as green as it gets, as we do not need to utilise fossil fuels and we are effectively using a waste product that will be in plentiful supply." (2015 Smithers, The Guardian)
With a tear in my eye I write this post, wow what a wonderful app! This app provides a live instanteneous tool for people who are visually impaired.
"The new iOS app provides a video stream, similar to Apple's FaceTime video calling, that connects someone visually impaired with someone able to see and willing to help out. The app's inventor, Hans Jørgen Wiberg, was inspired by FaceTime and how some of his blind friends were using it for visual help." (Bemyeyes.com)
I could explain how the process works but the short video puts it much better than I could. Could this type of app be a potential area for my final MA project?
For more information visit:
What sort of things could a smart phone app find out from those on the ground? Perhaps an app could focus on the basics or the vital signs which humans need to survive.
What fast, relevant information could a government or organisation gather from a population which could help respond to a crisis most effectively. Here are few vital areas where Quantative information could be quickly and easily sent via text or voice calls. I gathered these ideas and thoughts from my previous research from the Red Cross in Haiti and Somalia. This data was gathered in both case studies with the use of mobile phones, even in remote areas where power and cellular coverage was limited.
For my own benefit I wanted to really get my head around the benefits of mobile phone technology during a crisis. Could a mobile really help? What could be communicated? What is the advantage of this technology. I thought of possible essential information which could be communicated through a mobile phone during an emergency.
The idea of designing a concept for an app for mobile phones is becoming very interesting and I am very keen to push this area further. The above picture shows lots of possible areas of development. I think choosing a few to incorporate into a simple easy to understand app could be a way forward. Its better to do something well, than lots of things poorly. I aim to find out what the 'vital necessities' are for a person during a crisis..
Using the kinetic movement idea of self winding watch, could this technology be incorporated into an everyday frisbee? The spin of the disc could generate energy and could indicate to the user when it is fully charged.
There must be something in a flat pack IKEA style solar charger. The pack could be part of the OPEN DESIGN network so anyone could contribute to the designs online and everyone could download for free and build it themselves. Additional to this concept is an IKEA style instruction book which is completely visual and contains no words, overcoming language and illiteracy barriers. (this is something Im very interested in)
Trying to think outside the box, here are a few ideas. Just trying to think of concepts which incorporate solar technology into everyday life. I really like the idea of charging a mobile phone on a bicycle dynamo. Im also loving the El solar sombrero.
ALLPOWERS is a light weight portable solar device which folds extremely flat into a folder. They sell a range with varying amounts of solar panels. Their cheapest model at £40 contains 3 small solar panels and can produce 12v creating enough power for an iPad if needed. The most expensive 8 panel model costs £100 and can charge a laptop. All models are water-proof and area extremely robust.
Being energy sufficient during a crisis really interests me as a potential project. Electric devices are reduced to paper weights when there is a no power. Could there be a cost efficient way to create enough power to at least charge a mobile phone.
The attached panels are bit of an over kill but it shows have much more available and cost solar technology is becoming. This kit costs £200 and can create 100w. Most mobile phones require around 5 - 10w to charge. But even so for £200 this could be a life saving tool to have on hand just in case.
For more amazing deals check out: http://www.bestecoshop.com/100w-12v-solar-panel-kit-with-adjustable-frame-10-amp-dual-battery-controller-5m-extention-cables-brach-connectors.html?gclid=COuqm9nM_8MCFcsBwwodn3AA3A
This is an amazing way to charge and power any device in an emergency.
"The Upp, introduced in the U.K. in November, is a hydrogen micro generator that uses replaceable, refillable fuel cartridges to charge an iPhone. With a cartridge attached, the Upp becomes a PEM (polymer electrolyte membrane) fuel cell, which transforms the chemical energy freed during a reaction of hydrogen and oxygen to electrical energy to power an electronic device. Since it's using a chemical reaction to create power, there's an audible clicking noise as the Upp releases water vapor while charging." (MacRumors.com)
The great thing about Upp is charging your device is as quick as it would be on a regular plug socket and there is enough power in each Upp power cell to keep a iPhone going for over a week. Once the cell is spent it can be refilled for around £5. Surely this is an amazing opportunity for organisations to use during emergency situations when power is not available or in areas where solar power is not appropriate. Upp units could be dropped off knowing that devices could be charged for over 1 week. This is with constant use, so in theory one power cell could charge several USB devices and used when needed. Potentially keeping devices going for several weeks at a time with limited usage.
Another great feature about Upp is that the units can hold its charge for over 10 years without power loss! Thats a fantastic emergency tool to have on hand just in case ."The major benefit to the Upp is that its fuel cell cartridges don't lose power over time like traditional batteries, which means they'll be available indefinitely for emergencies. Power on demand with no need to recharge is the most appealing aspect of the Upp -- it could come in handy in a serious emergency situation where no other power source is available because it can sit for over 10 years with no degradation. Intelligent Energy also markets the Upp for off-the-grid outdoor use cases like camping and sailing." (MacRumors.com).
Upp recently launched in Africa as they recognised the importance of this product with humanitarian issues and helping people who live in areas with unreliable power sources.
The only problem with this product it that it needs the hydrogen cell to be charged when it has fully ran out. This cannot be done at home or by the owner, it will need to be filled by authorised supplier. This process is quick and relatively cheap. The success of this business will rely of the infrastructure in place to seamlessly facilitate the recharges.
To read the full article: http://www.macrumors.com/2015/02/19/upp-fuel-cell-power-pack-review/
Another case study which builds on mobile phone technology in developing countries. Somalia, is a region which has been perplexed by war for over 20 years. This insecurity has created the vast displacement of the population and had caused huge humanitarian problems. Additional to those problems Somalia also has very severe annual droughts and flooding causing extremely difficult living conditions.
Surprisingly with all these national infrastructure problems mobile technology and coverage has exploded, HIF website says "Across Somalia, the mobile communications market has flourished despite (or perhaps because of) the lack of state regulation, resulting in relatively high usage of mobile phones with access to some of the cheapest mobile networks in Africa."
A text system was put in place allowing locals to receive information and communicate problems and feed back to aid workers.
Community leaders were put in place locally to respond to local isolated problems, with the involvement of national support.
Make shift solar panels were put in place to recharge phones in remote regions. Love it!
Clearly again with this case study there is much good which has been done using mobile phone communication even in the most challenging of environments. Even with conflicts and natural disasters being regular occurances across the country, cellular communication continues to be maintained and remains active.
All information has been taken from: http://www.elrha.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/36951-HIf-case-study-DRC-Somalia-proof-v7.pdf
Although 86% of Haitians live in slum conditions the country as a whole has extensively engaged with mobile phone technology. Haiti's 2010 earthquake was an opportunity for The Red cross and IFRC to trial varying disaster responses using new and emerging technologies.
During the Haiti natural disaster wanted to trial a IVR system (Interactive Voice Resonse). So not only did they want to relay information to the people on the ground they also wanted to receive a response back. So they could know exactly what the situation is across the country.
They used the following methods:
1/ Radio - broadcast across Haiti relaying important live updates.
2/ Text - After a slow to take up response they soon were reminded of the high rate of illiteracy. Many people could not read the texts.
3/ Free phone number. A free *733 was set up to relay live information and also provide a way for people to feedback information when needed.
The aid agencies were able to track each person who received a text or listened to messages giving them a map of the where people were and where cellular coverage was.
Haitians were encouraged to call a 733 number and complete a voice spoken survey. HIF's case study says "From the first day, the IVR phone line has been a popular tool with Haitians. Within nine months, more than 1 million calls had been received, averaging one call every 26 seconds and 3,398 calls per day 13. Of these callers, 80,000 had fully completed surveys."
The Red Cross and IFRC have learnt many lessons from this project: A population's understanding and experience using technology and their ability to read is a very interesting aspect of this case study. Could there be a way to create a piece of communication software which required no literacy skills and could be used in any country? Another interesting finding from this project is that time is very important. Whatever the method information needs to be communicated very quickly: 1/ Because its during a crisis so time is precious 2/ Technology uses power, users will want to preserve their phone battery. Information and communication needs to be short and snappy.
See video below it puts everything in context wonderfully!
All information is taken from a case study from HIF's website: http://www.elrha.org/hif/innovation-resource-hub/hif-project-case-studies/mobile-technology-listening-voice-haitians/
Great learnings all round, very enlightening! :)
Tracking and the distribution of aid during a crisis can be very challenging and sometimes there is no guarantee that the items truly get to the planned areas or people. Last Mile is a mobile app developed by a Canadian based company called World Vision. This app allows organisations to clearly track items, monitor stock levels and holds individuals to account for receieving aid.
Eric Pires from innovatedevelopment.org comments on WVs process, "LMMS operates by creating a household profile for each receipt and printing out an ID card. Beneficiaries are then required to present their ID card, which will indicate how much aid they will receive based upon their need. The information is then aggregated within a database, which is monitored to evaluate the relationship between the beneficiaries and World Vision."
"This innovation offers users the ability to carefully track how their beneficiaries are being impacted by their services. This allows users to calibrate their services to address gaps and errors in provision. It also helps them report back to stakeholders on their activities in specific terms. Incorporating this system with handheld devices and laptops means that users can deploy almost anywhere and maintain a high level of accountability over their activities. Having an ability to immediately pull up information on a particular beneficiary on a handheld device also means that people can’t exploit aid systems by providing false statements of need. "
This system is excellent when tracking expensive items such as laptops or other equipment. I also like that this system would work well for families or individuals who are perhaps refugees for an extended period of time. The organisation could collectively monitor exactly what each family has received. Im not sure how easy the system would be to implement at the height of a crisis, cataloging individuals and providing scannable cards would take precious to time to setup. But I feel this system if used appropriately could be a very power tool. I love that system attempts to create transparency to delivering aid.
I am considering creating an app of some kind which encourages communication in a crisis. Learnings from this app feeds directly into my research. I like it!