Pollution - Water, Air, Toxins, Waste

FLOW: Where Mobile Tech and Water Meet

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Jan 19, 2011

Roughly 13 percent of the world’s population still lacks access to a regular supply of clean drinking water, and monitoring current water pumps and sanitation points is an important part of making sure that areas that have gained access to clean water don’t lose it. Water for People is a non-profit organization that monitors water and sanitation points in the developing world; last February, the organization began to investigate how mobile technology could help their work and from this, FLOW was born.

FLOW (Field Level Operations Watch) is an open-source, Android application that allows field workers to use mobile phones to document how well water pumps and sanitation points in the developing world are functioning, then transmit that data to create an online tagged map of target regions.

Mobile Telephony as an Enabler of Environmental Action in the Philippines

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Oct 12, 2010
Mobile Telephony as an Enabler of Environmental Action in the Philippines data sheet 1932 Views
Dolma T. Dongtotsang, Robert A. Sagun
Publication Date: 
May 2006
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Population growth, economic development and ineffective development policies place the Philippine environment and its natural resources and biodiversity under serious risk. Increased levels of air and water pollution in urban areas, deforestation, soil erosion, coral reef degradation as well as increasing pollution of coastal mangrove swamps important for breeding fish, are some of the threats mentioned by the Philippines Environment Monitor 2004. The situation is made worse by ineffective environmental laws and policies, rapid urbanization, expansion of resource-based markets and the growing apathy of its populace to environmental safeguarding. Environmental degradation is a common global problem, but strategies to halt it must be contextually specific if they are to be effective.

This paper explores how the telecommunications sector, and in particular mobile telephony, offers tools that may be used successfully for environmental action in the Philippines. Our research has indicated the ubiquity of mobile phones in the Philippines; they are convenient, relatively inexpensive, easy to acquire, and can send and receive text messages. For these reasons, using the SMS technology is an ideal and accessible way for the public to take action as well as increase their awareness of environmental issues.

The Mobile Minute: Mobile Maternal Health Insurance, M-PESA in Users' Own Words, Environmental Mobile Sensing

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Aug 17, 2010

The Mobile Minute is back with a video explaining the M-PESA mobile money service, news about maternal health insurance via mobiles, an app that helps users determine if a hybrid or plug-in car will be useful to their lives, a report on why you might want to turn off the geo-tagging system on your mobile, and FailFaire in The New York Times. 

Earth Day, the Environment and Mobile Phones: A Round-Up

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Apr 22, 2010

Today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, a global celebration that raises awareness about the enivronment.  To do our part to celebrate this day, we’ve put together a look at some of the mobile tools and organizations we’ve covered recently that are doing their part to help the Earth. If you have any suggestions about tools or organizations that are doing great environmental work with mobiles, please leave a comment and let us know – and have a good Earth Day!

Water Quality

We recently covered the Water Quality Reporter, a program in South Africa that uses mobiles to test the health of water supplies. The program allows field workers to use mobile forms or SMSs to cheaply and effectively transfer data about water quality to a centralized database, while receiving feedback about how to handle local water problems.

How to Manage e- (and m-) Waste: The UNEP Investigates

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Mar 03, 2010

The United Nations Environment Programme has released a new study on managing e-waste for developing countries. The report focuses one three major points: the market potential of e-waste recycling, encouraging the adoption of the UNEP’s guidelines to foster innovation in e-waste recycling technologies, and identifying places in which e-waste recycling is thriving. 

The study acknowledges that data of e-waste is insufficient, but the United Nations University estimates “that current e-waste arising across the twenty-seven members of the European Usnion amount to around 8.3 – 9.1 million per year; global arising are estimated to be around 40 million tons per year.”

The report used data from 11 representative developing countries to estimate current and future e-waste generation - which includes old and dilapidated desk and laptop computers, printers, mobile phones, pagers, digital photo and music devices, refrigerators, toys and televisions.

How to Manage e- (and m-) Waste: The UNEP Investigates data sheet 4876 Views
Countries: Brazil China Colombia India Kenya Mexico Morocco Peru Senegal South Africa Uganda

Recycling: From E-Waste to Resources

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Feb 22, 2010
Recycling: From E-Waste to Resources data sheet 3235 Views
Mathias Schluep, Christian Hagelueken, Ruediger Kuehr, Federico Magalini, Claudia Maurer, Christina Meskers, Esther Mueller, Feng Wang
Publication Date: 
Jul 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Sustainable Innovation, understood as the shift of sustainable technologies, products and services to the market, requires a market creation concept and one common global agenda. The challenge is to raise awareness among all actors of the different sectors in order to realize the innovation potential and to shift to eco-innovations that lead to sustainable consumption and production patterns. 

Throughout this study prepared within the “Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP) Initiative” the focus lies on a consistent set of different types of metals (ferrous and non-ferrous metals) such as aluminium (Al), copper (Cu), palladium (Pd) and gold (Au). Toxic and hazardous elements are present in e-waste, which are partially drivers for the implementation of sound collection and treatment processes. Therefore in the discussion of recycling technologies, the proper handling and treatment of such harmful elements to prevent environmental or health impact is included. Furthermore, the use and generation of toxic/hazardous substances during e-waste processing (for example, a mercury-gold amalgam or combined dioxins from inappropriate incineration) is critically evaluated with respect to the sustainability criteria for innovative technologies. 

The study, structured in three parts, has the following three main objectives: 

(1) Analysis of the market potential of relevant technologies for the e-waste recycling sector in selected developing countries, 

(2) Examination of the application of the ‘Framework for UNEP Technology Transfer Activities in Support of Global Climate Change Objectives’ in order to foster the transfer of innovative technologies in the e-waste recycling sector, 

(3) Identification of innovation hubs and centres of excellence in emerging economies relevant for e-waste recycling technologies. 


Vodafone Americas Foundation Announces Last Call for Innovation Project

Posted by MHut on Jan 28, 2010

The Vodafone Americas Foundation is announcing the last call for nominations for the second annual Wireless Innovation Project, a competition to identify and reward the most promising advances in wireless related technologies that can be used to solve critical problems around the globe. Proposals will be accepted through February 1, 2010, with the final winners announced on April 19, 2010 at the annual Global Philanthropy Forum in Redwood City, California. 

Vodafone Americas Foundation Announces Last Call for Innovation Project data sheet 4851 Views
Global Regions:
Countries: United States

A Cleaner, Safer Way to Cook (tracked with Mobile Tech)

Posted by admin on Oct 28, 2009

Cross-posted by permission. Written by Michael Benedict.

Suraj Wahab is passionate about cookstoves. Indeed, efficient charcoal burning stoves like those made by his company, Toyola Energy Limited, offer a lot to be passionate about.

For hundreds of thousands of families in Ghana who cook using traditional methods, these simple metal and clay devices provide a cleaner, safer, more efficient way to prepare their daily meals, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation. The stoves are sold in markets and door-to-door by Toyola “evangelists”, individuals who record each sale in a notebook and then are paid on commission. With 50,000 stoves projected to be sold this year and double that possible in 2010, the paper records are becoming increasingly difficult to maintain.

Citizen Logistics

Posted by groundcrew on Oct 02, 2009

At Citizen Logistics, we’re developing new game-like ways of working, volunteering, finding assistance, and having a good time. Anyone can play, and you get points for making other people’s dreams come true. Our software will let you find cool things to do, build teams, and connect people with jobs and resources, all via the text messaging capability of your cell phone.

We are a Common Good Corporation.

Organization Type: 
United States
Postal code: 


Posted by wildneil on Sep 09, 2009

WildKnowledge (WK) are a spin out company from Oxford Brookes University in the UK. WK enables members to create and share mobile recording forms (WildForm), decision trees (WildKey), maps (WildMap) and diagrams (WildImage). These tools enable the user to make informed decisions in the field and gather good quality data. This collated data can then be uploaded and shared as part of collaborative projects. Most of our members are UK school children and students, we are keen to explore new areas both geographically and contextually. All WK applications are wep apps and can work on any device with a web browser from a mobile device to a laptop (functionality will vary according to browser's capabilities).

Organization Type: 
United Kingdom

World Wildlife Fund: South Africa

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Sep 02, 2009

WWF South Africa was founded in 1968 by the late Dr. Anton Rupert and was then know as the Southern African Nature Foundation. Throughout the past 40 years, this national office of the leading global conservation organization has been committed to conserving the natural heritage of South Africa for future generations. WWF South Africa currently has 7 main programs; Climate Change, Trade and Investment, Environmental Education, Species, Marine, Freshwater and the Ecosystems Partnership. We work with numerous partners including NGOs, industry and government to achieve our goal of people living in harmony with nature.

Organization Type: 
South Africa

Greenpeace India/SMS Lead Generation

Posted by CorinneRamey on Sep 02, 2009
Greenpeace India/SMS Lead Generation data sheet 5839 Views

Greenpeace's first use of SMS in India was as a fundraising tool.  As part of a campaign to encourage people to plant trees, Greenpeace India sent out text messages offering free saplings.

All text for this case study came from this description on SOFII.

Basic Information
Organization involved in the project?: 
Project goals: 

The objective of the campaign was to increase productivity from Greenpeace India's recruiters (paid fundraisers) and thus increase financial support to the organisation. Before the SMS lead generation campaign, GPI used a simple direct dialogue (face to face) method of fundraising that involved stopping people in the street and requesting their time to present the aims of the organisation with the goal of recruiting them as a financial supporter.

Using this method, only 17% of people approached agreed to listen to the presentation, and of these people only 10% would then go on to sign up as financial supporters. The average productivity of each recruiter was 0.45 sign ups per day. Those requesting saplings were personally visited by a recruiter and asked to make a donation. So far it has been possible to make three such visits per day, with a conversion rate above 25 per cent.

Brief description of the project: 

The SMS lead generation campaign is a filter mechanism designed to source ‘warm prospects’. An SMS text message was sent to 56,137 people, all qualified as potential warm prospects with an interest in environmental issues. It said “Hi, don’t you wish your city was cleaner ‘n’ greener? Begin by planting a free sapling offered by Greenpeace. Reply GREEN to 6363 to get your free sapling. Sender Greenpeace’.

The text message was sent  to  the mobile phones of prospects in and around the region of Bangalore and Pune. The offer to receive a free sapling fit well with Greenpeace’s objective to improve the environment and it allowed recipients to feel they are actively involved in combating the problem. Take up was much higher than expected.

This approach significantly increased the return on investment and introduced new donors at a high (25 per cent) conversion rate. It exceeded all expectations in terms of responses to the SMS, doubled the productivity of recruiters and increased the number of financial supporters recruited. Greenpeace is still seeking a more effective system to reduce travel time so that recruiters can approach more people each day. Greenpeace also found from this test that it is vital to respond quickly to interest  – within two days or interest will be lost.

Detailed Information
What worked well? : 

This approach significantly increased the return on investment and introduced new donors at a high (25 per cent) conversion rate. It exceeded all expectations in terms of responses to the SMS, doubled the productivity of recruiters and increased the number of financial supporters recruited. Though Greenpeace is still seeking a more effective system to reduce travel time so that recruiters can approach more people each day. Greenpeace also found from this test that it is vital to respond quickly to interest  – within two days or interest will be lost.


Posted by CorinneRamey on Sep 02, 2009

Organization Type: 

Peace Corps

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Sep 01, 2009

The Peace Corps traces its roots and mission to 1960, when then-Senator John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. From that inspiration grew an agency of the federal government devoted to world peace and friendship. Since that time, more than 195,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in 139 host countries to work on issues ranging from AIDS education to information technology and environmental preservation.

Organization Type: 
Washington, D.C.

September Mobile Events - A Roundup

Posted by LeighJaschke on Aug 31, 2009

Here are some mobile events for the month of September that we thought are noteworthy and of interest to the MobileActive.org community. If you know of others, please mail us at  info at MobileActive dot org.

Wed Sep 2 – Fri Sep 4: M4Life, Barcelona

mDevelopment, one of the three events at the conference, explores the impact of mobile technologies on economic and social development.

Fri Sep 4: Mobile Tech 4 Social Change Bangalore

Mobile Tech 4 Social Change Camps are local events for people passionate about using mobile technology for social impact and to make the world a better place.

Mobile Tech 4 Social Change Camp in Bangalore includes:

Are There Conflict Minerals on Your Mobile Phone?

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Jun 01, 2009

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 MobileActive.org 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.

Earth Day and Mobile Phones, Part 2: Making the Environment Better One SMS at a Time

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Apr 22, 2009

Sensing is just one way in which mobiles are used in environmental protection. Another promising area is wildlife protection in sensitive areas where humans and animals collide, often to the detriment of protected animals. In the Laikipia District in Kenya, the University of Cambridge conducted a project using mobile phones to protect and manage Kenya's second largest elephant population, and the ecosystem they inhabit.  The goal was to alleviate human-elephant conflict between local farmers and the protected elephants.  The project used mobile phones for early warning of elephants approaching farmland by using 'push-to-talk' technologies, and GPS/GSM collars for the elephants, allowing wildlife personnel to intervene before elephant became a danger to farmers and vice versa. 

Earth Day and Mobile Phones, Part 1: Sensing for a Better World

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Apr 21, 2009

If 2009 is the year of the mobile phone for social impact, then Earth Day should mark a special occasion in this regard. More and more organizations and people are discovering how mobile phones can be used for social impact, including how to use mobile tech for environmental protection, sensing, and to leverage just-in-time information to make our movements and actions more environmentally friendly.

An emerging field of research, for example, uses mobiles for "urban sensing," allowing phones to collect scientific data in new and innovative ways. By affixing a sensory device to a mobile phone, mobile sensing provides the opportunity to track dynamic information about environmental impacts and develop maps and understand patterns of human movement, traffic, and air pollution.

A leader in this field is the University of California Los Angeles CENS Lab.

Good Guide - Green Product Info To Your Phone

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Sep 11, 2008

We have written a lot about providing consumers with just-in-tine information about products on their mobile.  Shoppers can receive an SMS about sustainable fish or climate impact of products already.  This is the idea of the new GoodGuide, a new start-up spun out of the University of Berkeley. Good Guide provides 'green' consumer information for shoppers who want to buy products in line with their values.

The brainchild of Dara O'Rourke, an enterprising UC Berkely professor, Good Guide came online yesterday.  The 61,000 products already in the database contain hundreds of datapoints. They are organized into three categories: health, social and environmental impact. Currently, there are two product types only: personal care and household chemicals. Food, electronics, toys, and apparel are to be added over the next several months.

Moblogging at Glastonbury Festival with Greenpeace, Oxfam and WaterAid

Posted by Jamie on Jun 23, 2008

Here's an exciting project I've been working on recently (sorry about the PR speak, it's some copy I've been using in promotion!).

Glastonbury is a giant music festival, the biggest in the UK and probably in Europe, but it's located on a working dairy farm and we need to leave the farm the way the cows like it. So the only trace of this year's festival we want to leave behind are images, videos and text messages. So Greenpeace, Oxfam and WaterAid are collaborating with Moblog to capture the sights and sounds (but, thankfully, not the smells) on a mobile blogging website or moblog.

Mobile Games About Climate Change

Posted by CorinneRamey on Jun 02, 2008

Within the next few months, ZMQ Software Systems will be launching new mobile games to educate people about climate change as part of its Connect2Climate initiative. The first three games that ZMQ will release are called Polar Teddy Quiz, Mission Lighting, and DeCarbonator. On their website, ZMQ explains why they choose to use mobile phones for the games:

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: The Many Lives of Mobile Phones

Posted by CorinneRamey on Apr 22, 2008

In the United States, a used mobile phone is likely to end up in the trash can, or more likely, in the back of a desk drawer for several years, collecting dust. But in the rest of the world, this just isn't the case. Mobile phones -- or even parts of mobile phones -- are reused, recycled, and refurbished.

Jan Chipchase, a phone anthropologist for Nokia, has seen the way that old mobile phones transform into new ones while traveling for Nokia around the world. According to this CNET News article, Chipchase and his team (MobileActive wrote about Younghee Jung, an anthropologist who works with Chipchase, here) have found that refurbishing phones is a booming market in developing countries, with small businesses springing up that sell phone parts, repair manuals, and pirated versions of the newest software.

Clever Social Marketing/Mobile Campaign#2: Young Creatives' MTV Mobile Ad: Go Low Carbon

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Dec 19, 2007

Mobile social adverts - and the winner is here. MTV Networks International and Nokia teamed up earlier this year in a new campaign called MTV Switch to to inform, entertain and encourage climate-conscious behaviour amongst global youth, driving traffic to MTV.

During the 2007 Cannes Lions Advertising Festival, Young Creative Film Competitors on a 48 hour mission to shoot a 30-second advert using the Nokia N93i to be used on TV, mobile and the web that encourages 15-25 year olds to adopt new energy-saving lifestyles, making it cool to be green. All submissions shot on the Nokia N93 are here - judge for yourself!

Tracking Greenhouse Gases on your Mobile

Posted by CorinneRamey on Nov 30, 2007

A new mobile application, mobGAS, can be used to track individual emissions of greenhouse gases. The application, developed by scientists in the European Union, tracks the emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane based on information on daily activities entered by the user. Users can enter the information on a website and then compare their emissions with national and international averages.

Txt for Fish, Sex, and Med Info - The Wall Street Journal

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Nov 21, 2007

Mainstream press in the United States is picking up on the mobile revolution.  In an article yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, Fish Phone, Sex Info, our friends in San Francisco, and medicine compliance programs are profiled:

In England, women have received text reminders to take their birth-control pills. In Australia, texting helped AIDS patients adhere to complicated drug regimens. And German researchers are examining how text messages can offer psychological support to bulimics. A recent study in New Zealand found that smoking-cessation programs were more effective in conjunction with supportive text messages.

Text reminders and health and consumer info lines are exploding in popularity, paving the way for innovative prorams in other areas as well that pertain to point-of-purchase consumer information, and using textig for civic and advocacy information that we are, of course, particularly interested in.