Designing for Participation- How to design for participation in ICT for A2J

By Eric Zan

Smith et al. in anOpen Development: A New Theory for ICT4D explore the potential of openness for the developing world1. Taking their inspiration from the ethos of the free and open source movement, openness refers to the free access and modification ofinformation inan environment of participation. The growing excitement behind the movement and the proliferation of its enabling technologies, dubbed Web 2.0, have given rise to what this could mean for the development agenda. The idea is that when networked activities are enabled, transformative results can occur through the participation and collaboration of a more inclusive community. But how does this actually happen and how can it be improved?

Social Media, Development and A2J

By Crysta Highfield

Social media, defined by its interactive nature and user-generated content, has largely been a tool and a toy for the wealthy and bored.  Blogs, photo sharing sites, and online social networking sites have allowed peers (and increasingly organizations and companies) to share thoughts, messages, information, images, and videos.
Development agencies have been utilizing social media for years, using blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms to publicize their vision, purpose, and activities; spread news; build support; attract volunteers and donors; and engage with interested segments of the population.  Of humanitarian agencies, UNICEF is the most ‘liked’ on Facebook (1.2  million+) and the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, is the most ‘followed’ on Twitter (1.2 million+) with the American Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, and the World Food Program among others also having substantial social media followings.

ICTD/Law and Behavioral Economics

By Seema Hari

I really enjoyed writing my last blog post about the intersection of ICTD and the Lean Startup model and combining the learnings from the two classes that I am taking at UC Berkeley. Continuing with that theme, I decided to explore the synergies between ICTD and Behavioral Economics

LawHelp: National Network of Legal Aid Websites in the USA

The LSC's TIG program, which I have written extensively about, has played a critical role in the development of legal services websites in all the US. These websites provide information such as the locations of LSC-funded programs and their offices, guidance on pro bono and volunteer opportunities for the private bar, and a broad range of self-help legal resources for low-income people. Many utilize live chat functionality, which allows users to interact with legal services staff or volunteers to find the resources they need. Almost all sites in the network are mobile compatible, and many use online videos to help users understand legal content. To date, I am counting the following websites:

Using Technology to Support Pro Bono: An incomplete and gorwing list from the US

  • Legal Aid of West Virginia developed a pro bono portal that hosts web-based interactive trainings and other practice resources. These resources include videos, document assembly forms, client interview guides, and tip sheets. The portal also allows private attorneys to sign up electronically for pro bono cases and quickly begin helping clients in need. 

  • The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association, in partnership with the Massachusetts Bar Association and other state and national pro bono organizations, launched the TIG-funded MassProBono website, a portal that enhances the delivery of pro bono legal services to people of limited means in Massachusetts. The site supports and encourages pro bono work, matching volunteers across the state with a wide variety of opportunities that fit their interests, location, and schedules. The centerpiece of the site, the Pro Bono Opportunities Guide, builds on the Boston Bar Association’s pro bono catalog and incorporates interactive functions to create a robust new tool to promote pro bono engagement. In 2015, TIG funded a follow-up project to enhance mobile access to pro bono resources across the MassProBono site, including piloting new approaches to delivering substantive practice resources through mobile devices. 

  • TIG funding led to the development of the first statewide pro bono mobile application. Illinois Pro Bono provides Illinois attorneys and other legal professionals with a volunteer opportunity search tool, a calendar of upcoming events, and instructional legal content. The app is available for both iOS and Android.

Aadhar Cards - Good Idea, Failed Execution

By Ruchita Rathi

The government of India initiated Aadhar card (UID project to uniquely & digitally identify people with the prime motive of tracking the social security of an individual. The project is inspired by the Social Security Number (SSN) issued in the USA. The goal of Aadhar project was to disseminate education, health, employment to all the stratas of Indian society.

What is Development?

By Sidee Dlamini

After a year of taking graduate level classes in development, I still have not found the answer to what development is. This is not disappointing to me, but it is rather encouraging. The fact that there is no straight answer to this question confirms that we actually do not know what development is and because we do not know we will keep searching. On the other hand, we could say development is not one simple thing and therefore there are many definitions for it. The latter response also implies that individuals will choose what development means to them and resort to approaching development that way. I will admit that I am not too fond of the second option because it takes away the need to keep learning and exploring alternative definitions.

An ICT approach to filling the informal employment gap in India

By Priya Iyer

It all started in Fall 2013 when second year Masters students at the School of Information, UC Berkeley had to submit proposals for their final projects, that they would be working on in the last semester before graduating. My classmates and I had been brainstorming a lot on projects that we could potentially work on but did not have a particular problem in mind. The only thing we knew, for sure, was that we wanted to work in the ICTD space. We started out at a macro level to understand the kind of problems that we wanted to target. We were particularly interested in the problems of food insecurity in India. We researched to find out the root of this problem through literature reviews, YouTube videos and anecdotes from our professional and social networks. The most glaring cause that came to the forefront was the problem of unemployment in the informal labor market in India.

There’s an app for that: Mobile banking as a tool for A2J

By Laurent Arribe

Mobile banking has become all the rage. Over 110 money mobile systems have been created across the globe with more than 40 million users. Ever since the technology’s introduction in the mid-2000s, its take-up rate has soared as lower income populations gained access to a banking savings system.

The expected benefits from mobile distribution and banking include lower costs and greater privacy. Especially in resource poor settings, low transaction amounts for informal money transfer were over 30 percent less expensive than informal money transfer options. They also drastically increased savings rates and even reduced the risks robbing. As apparent benefits accrued, development practitioners took notice and new applications began taking place.

Outstanding Technologies in Africa

By: Sidee Dlamini

To the unaware, Africa is still known as the Dark Continent; however, numerous trends continue to show how much progress has been made on the African continent. More importantly, there has been a lot of technological advancement that the majority of the world is unaware of. It is my belief that most of the issues faced by the continent will be solved through the use of technology. I envision technology being deeply implemented in government procedures such that efficiency is increased ten fold and corruption is greatly. Of course, technology isn’t the answer to all problems, but it has the capability to solve a few if not most. How might these visions be accomplished you might ask? Well, I myself am in pursuit of that answer, but for now, I would like to explore a few outstanding technologies on the African continent.

AirJaldi - Bringing affordable internet connectivity to rural India

By Priya Iyer

About AirJaldi
AirJaldi is a social enterprise currently operational mostly in North India aimed at providing affordable broadband connectivity to the remote parts of the country where internet access is a rarity. Establishing the infrastructure in the rural hilly areas of India is a tedious process owing to difficult terrains, unfavorable weather, lack of uninterrupted power, supply and transport costs and lack of awareness about Internet usage among the rural residents.