MobileActive's Blog

MobileActive Wins Knight Foundation News Challenge

It's been an eventful week here at with much going on.  So it's only now that we are happy to announce that is a 2009 Knight Foundation News Challenge Winner. The prize is for the Mobile Media Toolkit, a comprehensive directory of mobile tools and strategies that will allow anyone use mobile tech for citizen media and journalism. We believe that there is a critical need for better aggregation and presentation of tools, tech, and resources for citizens and media organizations around the world. is one of nine winners, out of more than 3,000 applicants. 

For more, watch this video, courtesy of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University, where I explain what the Mobile Media Toolkit is all about.  Thank you, Knight Foundation, and Gary Kebbel, Knight Foundation journalism program director, for your support of our work. (video after the break)


An Evaluation of RapidSMS for Child Nutrition Surveillance in Malawi

Reported by Leigh Jaschke and Melissa Loudon.

This spring, UNICEF Malawi and the UNICEF Innovations Team deployed RapidSMS to monitor child growth and nutrition.  We wrote about it previously here. 

Now there is a detailed report (pdf), evaluating the effort. The report, released on June 16th, was issued by Columbia University's School of Public Policy and Affairs (SIPA), UNICEF Malawi, UNICEF's Innovations team, and Mobile Development Solutions (MDS).

The report details the findings of the deployment, and outlines recommendations for the future use of SMS in Malawi. Raymond Short of Mobile Development Solutions says that,


Mexicans report votes (and nonvotes) with SMS

On July 5th, Mexicans will go to the polls to elect new members of the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Congress. Two Mexican initiatives, Cuidemos El Voto and Anulo Mi Voto, are using SMS in different ways to make people's voices heard in what they fear will be a less-than-democratic election.

Cuidamos El Voto

By simply sending a text message, citizens will be able to report any voting irregularities or other problems.  But Oscar Salazar hopes that Cuidemos El Voto, the vote monitoring system, doesn't receive too many texts.

"We really hope that the number of incidents is low, this will mean Mexican democracy is for real," wrote Salazar in an email interview with MobileActive, who is coordinating the project. "However, if this is not the case, we want to provide NGOs and common citizens with the tools to enforce this process."


Welcome, New MobileActive Fellow Leigh Jaschke

In the growing network of people in the staffers and contributors, I am very pleased to welcome yet another amazing woman in mobile.  Leigh Jaschke is our new Fellow for the next few months. She'll be focusing on building out our database of projects and increqase resources and information specifically on formal and informal ways in with mobile phones are used for learning, public education, education, and training.

Here is a bit more about her: Leigh is an educator and trainer with 6 years of international experience. She has worked in international development, and in program and event management. She is currently researching the role of mobile technology in education sector capacity building. Leigh holds a degree in International Development and Economics and will complete her Master of International Education in May 2010. She is fluent in French, and has also worked in German, Spanish, Mandarin, and Bambara (Mali).

Welcome, Leigh!  


Farming advice on a cell phone

At a small agrarian cooperative in Chile, farmers with little access to the internet have a new source of farming information: text messaging.

The messages, a combination of national and international news and farming information about topics like weather and pricing, are part of a project called DatAgro, which aims to bring relevant farming information to rural populations that have little access to computers. DatAgro is a project of Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit DataDyne.  The pilot is being implemented by the Santiago-based Zoltner Consulting Group, which looks at ways that ICTs can be used for development. The project is primarily funded by a $325,000 Knight News Challenge Grant and will continue until November 2010.

"The idea was to create a platform that allowed people who didn't have access to the internet to access news," said Meghan Cagley, a program officer at DataDyne.


Mobile Tech 4 Social Change Barcelona Meetup and Nairobi Camp

More Mobile Tech 4 Social Change goodness coming up!  There will be two events in June:

  • Barcelona, June 20th, open air meet-up after Mobile 2.0 -- register here.
  • Nairobi, June 27th, all-day camp with Strathmore University (even with after party and "Just a Band!")- register here!

We would love to have you!  Please feel free to forward and spread the word. More on Mobile Tech 4 Social Change events on the wiki (and yes, you can roll your own!)

CrisisCamp Ignite Session hosted by the World Bank - Friday, June 12 7pm

You are invited to CrisisCamp Ignite Session at the World Bank!

CrisisCamp DC is part of a global movement who is bringing together volunteers, academia, non-profits, companies and government officials to share best practices and lessons learned to advocate for further use of technology and telecommunications to assist citizens and communities during crisis. 


Election Observation in Lebanon - Mobilized, Part 2

Sharek961 is another effort in Lebanon to monitor the election there today on June 7. Unlike LADE which uses more than 2,000 trained volunteer election monitors to systematically report from polling stations throughout the day, Sharek961 aims to get ordinary Lebanese citizen to text, call, and email in incidences from polling stations, crowdsourcing the conduct of the critically important election there.

According to Sharek961's press release, 

" [is[... empowering citizens to report in Arabic and in English, through four means; SMS, email, Twitter and web reports. Reports can address anything election-related happening around the country, from political rallies and polling queues to vote-buying and violence. Sharek961 anonymously publishes these reports alongside news reports, blog posts, photos, videos and tweets, on an interactive map, making them publicly available to all citizens, media outlets, and organizations."

Sharek961 notes that it


Election Observation in Lebanon - Mobilized, Part 1

Lebanon will hold a critically important parliamentary election on June 7, and election observers from around the world have descended on the country.  However, as in many other countries now, there are local organizations and citizen efforts on the ground that are using mobile technology for sophisticated election observation efforts.  The Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE) and the Coalition Libanaise pour l’Observation Elections (CLOE), for example, have put in place an extensive SMS reporting system, for example. LADE will deploy a total of 2,500 volunteer citizen observers throughout the country directly at the 5181 polling stations. 


Are There Conflict Minerals on Your Mobile Phone?

file under:
coltan, congo, enough campaign

So asks the Enough Project, and its new campaign Raise Hope for Congo. The Enough Project is part of the Center for American Progress, a US-based left-leaning think tank and advocacy organization. The Enough Project's campaign aims, according to Eileen White Read from the organization in an article submitted to to

..end the trade in “conflict minerals” from the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, which are sold by rebel groups to purchase arms and serve as a direct cause of widespread sexual violence in that country.


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