Nokia Life Tools

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Feb 10, 2010
Nokia Life Tools data sheet 13567 Views

Nokia Life Tools aims to give users direct access to information that can change how they do business.  Launched in 2008 in India, Nokia Life Tools deliver agricultural information, educational resources and entertainment to users over SMS.  At the end of 2009, Nokia Life Tools expanded to Indonesia.

The service allows subscribers to receive updates on chosen topics – market prices, news tips, weather forecasts, English lessons, exam preparation, or entertainment. The SMS-based service sends basic text messages on an icon-driven interface; the delivery system ensures that the service works wherever mobile phones work. The information that is sent out to the consumer’s mobile phone is targeted to the person based on his or her location.

The tools’ primary services are agricultural and educational; entertainment is supplementary, providing users with ringtones and sports updates among other services.

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

Nokia Life Tools aims to:

  • Provide emerging markets with hyper-local information via SMS in three sectors: agriculture, education, and entertainment.
  • Give users an easy and reliable way to access information 
  • After launching in India and Indonesia, Nokia plans to expand Liife Tools in more global markets in early 2010


Brief description of the project: 

Nokia Life Tools is an SMS-based service that provides hyper-localized information to its subscribers in three sectors: agriculture, education, and entertainment.

Target audience: 

The target audience of Nokia Life Tools are users in emerging markets who want access to reliable agricultural information (including market prices, weather forecasts and crop recommendations) and educational opportunities (such as English language instruction).

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Detailed Information
Length of Project (in months) : 
What worked well? : 

According to Dinesh Subramaniam, senior manager of communications for Nokia, collaborations with local partners such as agricultural boards, meteorological departments and educational boards have helped create the hyper-local information needed for the service to run.

What did not work? What were the challenges?: 

One of the biggest challenges facing the program is the initial collection of data; creating specifically targeted information for different regions takes time and manpower, which limits the speed with which the program can be rolled out to new countries. 

India Bans Pre-Paid Mobiles in Kashmir - Security or Suppression?

Posted by samdupont on Nov 11, 2009

This post was written by Sam duPont of NDN and the New Policy Institute, and is cross-posted at Global Mobile.

For eight years, the Indian government dragged its feet until, in 2003, it finally permitted mobile phones in conflict-torn Kashmir. Intelligence officials had feared that Kashmiri and Pakistani militants would use the phones to plan attacks on Indian army outposts throughout the region, but in '03 they relaxed the ban, and the past six years have been the most peaceful since the conflict began in 1989. Causation? Probably not. But correlation, anyway.

India Bans Pre-Paid Mobiles in Kashmir - Security or Suppression? data sheet 3569 Views
Countries: India

IFFCO: Cell Phone Messages with Farmer Advice

Posted by CorinneRamey on Nov 06, 2009
IFFCO: Cell Phone Messages with Farmer Advice data sheet 7834 Views

Chandra Shekar, a farmer who grows crops such as tomatoes and carrots and raises cows and other animals, lives in a remote village in Kolar, India in the state of Karnataka. For the past year, he's received daily voice messages with advice which have helped him to keep his sheep healthy, control diseases that threaten his crops and know what medicines to feed his animals. He has also had access to a helpline that allows him to ask questions to experts, while standing in the field of his farm, next to his animals. "Messages on animal husbandry are serving like daily doctor to me," Shekar said. "When cow was suffering from bloating, it was effectively controlled by making cow to drink groundnut oil which was given in the message."

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

The project aims to provide rural Indian farmers with access to crop and veterinary information and empower them through technology.

Brief description of the project: 

IFFCO, a fertilizer cooperative in India, provides cooperative members with voice messages that give advice on agricultural topics.  The project currently has over 1 million subscribers, who receive updates five days a week.

Target audience: 

The program targets farmers, especially those in rural areas who  access to other information.

Detailed Information
Length of Project (in months) : 
What worked well? : 

The voice messages are in local languages, so they are accessible even to illiterate farmers or those who don't speak English.

What did not work? What were the challenges?: 

IFFCO has worked to adjust the content to better fit what the farmers need.  Feedback from farmers included more messages on animal husbandry, more messages on non-chemical fertilizers, and more messages during morning and evening hours.

The Impact of Mobile Phones on the Status of Women in India

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Oct 09, 2009
The Impact of Mobile Phones on the Status of Women in India data sheet 4695 Views
Dayoung Lee
Publication Date: 
May 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Mobile phones have grown at an extraordinary rate throughout the developing world in recent years. They are potentially an invaluable economic asset to the poor and an important tool for strengthening social ties. Mobile phones may also help women overcome physical boundaries, especially in places where they are separated from their support networks and bound within their husband’s social sphere.

This paper examines the impact of mobile phones on the status of women in India. Using nation-wide cross-sectional data at the individual level, the author builds on Jensen and Oster’s model for measuring women’s status. The author uses domestic violence, decision-making autonomy, child preferences and economic independence as proxies for bargaining power and status of women in their household and society.

Mobile phones significantly decrease both men and women’s tolerance for domestic violence, increase women’s autonomy in mobility and economic independence, but do not have significant effects on child preferences and other measures of autonomy. Where the effects are significant, they are also large and in some cases equivalent to more than five years of education. These results suggest that the Government of India and those of other countries should consider mobile phones as a policy instrument for empowering women.

Prenatal Care Through SMS

Posted by CorinneRamey on Sep 22, 2009

In India, especially in rural areas, men are often in charge of the family mobile phone.  But Subhi Quaraishi, CEO of ZMQ Software Systems, thinks that phones are a great way to reach women as well.

"The goal of our program is to use technology to empower women," said Quaraishi, of ZMQ's new pilot program.

ZMQ is currently running a program to provide women with information on prenatal care via SMS. The messages, which are all in Hindi, contain information on vaccinations, exercise, diet, medication, and how to deal with emergencies that arrive during pregnancy. This is the only program of its kind in India, although other programs -- like a Grameen Bank sponsored program in Ghana -- also use SMS to give advice on prenatal care.

The Digital Provide: Information (Technology), Market Performance, and Welfare in the South Indian Fisheries Sector

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Sep 18, 2009
The Digital Provide: Information (Technology), Market Performance, and Welfare in the South Indian Fisheries Sector data sheet 1364 Views
Robert Jensen
Publication Date: 
Aug 2007
Publication Type: 
Journal article

When information is limited or costly, agents are unable to engage in optimal arbitrage. Excess price dispersion across markets can arise, and goods may not be allocated efficiently. In this setting, information technologies may improve market performance and increase welfare.

Between 1997 and 2001, mobile phone service was introduced throughout Kerala, a state in India with a large fishing industry. Using microlevel survey data, we show that the adoption of mobile phones by fishermen and wholesalers was associated with a dramatic reduction in price dispersion, the complete elimination of waste, and near-perfect adherence to the Law of One Price. Both consumer and producer welfare increased.

Spoken Web

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Aug 31, 2009
Spoken Web data sheet 5179 Views
Organization that developed the Tool: 
Main Contact: 
Arun Kumar
Problem or Need: 

The World Wide Web enabled quick and easy information dissemination and brought about fundamental changes to various aspects of our lives. However, a very large number of people, mostly in developing regions, are still untouched by this revolution. Compared to PCs, the primary access mechanism to the WWW, mobile phones have made a phenomenal penetration into this population segment. Low cost of ownership, the simple user interface consisting of a small keyboard, limited menu and voice-based access contribute to the success of mobile phones with the less literate. However, apart from basic voice communication, these people are not being able to exploit the benefits of information and services available to WWW users. Spoken Web is designed to provide the benefits of IT to the underprivileged population in developing countries who are characterized by illiteracy and poverty.

Main Contact Email : 
Brief Description: 

Spoken Web is an entire platform that lets ordinary phone subscribers create and deploy their own applications and services over a simple phone call. It can be used to proliferate IT information and transactional services to masses on existing IT/Telecom infrastructure. It requires no additional cost of ownership to end users other than an ordinary phone.

Tool Category: 
App resides and runs on a server
Key Features : 
  • Creation and deployment of voice apps
  • Reaching out to masses on existing infrastructure


Main Services: 
Stand-alone Application
Tool Maturity: 
Under development/pre-launch
All phones -- Voice
Current Version: 
Program/Code Language: 
Number of Current End Users: 
Number of current beneficiaries: 
Languages supported: 
Handsets/devices supported: 
All voice-capable phones.
Article in the Economic Times:
Is the Tool's Code Available?: 
Is an API available to interface with your tool?: 

Avaaj Otalo

Posted by neilp on Aug 11, 2009
Avaaj Otalo data sheet 4817 Views
Organization that developed the Tool: 
Main Contact: 
Neil Patel
Problem or Need: 

Agricultural information access for small-scale farmers in rural India.

Main Contact Email : 
Brief Description: 

Avaaj Otalo ("voice-based community forum") is a system for farmers to access relevant and timely agricultural information over the phone. The system was designed in the summer of 2008 as a collaboration between IBM India Research Laboratory and Development Support Center (DSC), an NGO in Gujarat, India.

By dialing a phone number and navigating through simple audio prompts, farmers can record questions, review and respond to others, or access content published by agricultural experts and institutions. In addition to the Q&A forum, Avaaj Otalo includes an announcements board of headline-like snippets updated regularly by DSC staff, and a radio archive to listen to past episodes of DSC's popular weekly radio program.

Key Features : 

IVR system for information access and sharing of experiences amongst small-scale farmers in rural India.

Main Services: 
Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
Display tool in profile: 
Tool Maturity: 
Currently deployed
Release Date: 
Java ME
Program/Code Language: 
Organizations Using the Tool: 

Development Support Center

Languages supported: 
Handsets/devices supported: 
Is the Tool's Code Available?: 
URL for license: 
Global Regions: 

Improving Livelihoods and Incomes With Mobile Phones

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Apr 21, 2009

Telecom TV has a short report on “Market Intelligence: How Mobiles are Helping Farmers and Fishermen.” The reports covers KACE, the Kenya Agricultural Commodity Exchange. Of course, there is also a short segment on the famous fisherman of Kerala, studied in the seminal study by Robert Jensen that he conducted in Kerala from 1999 to 2001 in MIT's Quarterly Journal of Economics. The study definitively showed the increase in income for fishermen and decrease of consumer prices of fish upon the introduction of mobile phones.  The video is here.

Ringing in the Vote: Mobile Phones in the 2009 Indian Elections

Posted by Gauravonomics on Apr 15, 2009

The world's largest democracy, India, is holding its general election this year. The month-long elections to the 15th Lok Sabha, the Indian Parliament, will be held in five phases between April 16th and May 16th when the final results will be announced. 

As India's 714 million voters prepare to elect their 543 representatives, they are witnessing a range of digital initiatives from political parties, civil society organizations, media houses and even corporations.  In fact, some observers are calling this India's first digital elections.

Leading the packed ballot is 82-year-old Lal Krishna Advani, the prime ministerial candidate of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, who has embarked on an Obama-style new media campaign. Part of the campaign are a blog, a blogger outreach program, one of the most aggressive online ad campaigns ever seen in India, and an ambitious SMS campaign that will reach 250 million of India's 400 million mobile subscribers.

Worlds Aids Day: India's Condom! Condom! Ringtone Public Health Campaign For "Real Men"

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Dec 02, 2008

In our day-long coverage of innovative HIV/AIDS campaigns, here is one from India.  The question:  How can you encourage men to use condoms to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS?  The answer: Drive up sales of condoms with an innovative and often tongue-in-cheek multi-media campaign, including catchy ringtones featuring the jingle Condom Condom.

The BBC World Service Trust, the charitable arm of the BBC, has been running a public health campaign in four states in southern India and has now launched a campaign to make clear that "smart men use condoms."

Here is one scene, played out at a wedding: a mobile ringtone buzzes with a loud refrain "condom! condom!"  The BBC Trust writes: "Embarrassing for the person holding the mobile phone? Not a bit of it - the reaction of those around the red-faced man is to see him as smart and responsible."

Google India's Free SMS Channel

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Nov 16, 2008

Google Labs in India recenty launched SMS Channels, a new, free SMS messaging service for India only that may prove to be incredibly useful for citizen groups and NGOs.  The service allows anyone to set up a group of mobile subscribers to message to, or for a group to message each other many-to-many. A user can receive news alerts and blog updates via SMS, for example; or a group can group-text message to each other.

There are many commercial group messaging solutions in India where the primary means of mobile communiations is SMS. However, unlike GupShup, Zook, and MyToday, Google’s SMS channel is two-way allowing for SMS discussions and also enabling subscribers to publish to the channel.

Mobile Use by Micro & Small Enterprises

Posted by sharakarasic on Oct 31, 2008

On day two of MobileActive ’08 in Johannesburg, I attended Mobile Use By Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) by Jonathan Donner of the Technology for Emerging Markets Group, Microsoft Research India.

Donner explained that Microsoft Research conducts long-term research and development – it’s not tied directly to products. Its goals are to understand potential technology users in developing countries, and to adapt and design technology that contributes to social and economic development of poor communities.

Donners’ research focus was on tiny informal businesses with fewer than five employees. These businesses are post-agriculture and post-family farm. Example types of businesses that Donner examined include basket weaving, fruit stands, food sellers, and informal pipe fittings manufacturing.

Donner studied how mobiles have had a positive impact both in Kigali, Rwanda in 2002-2004, and Bangalore and Hyderabad, India from 2005-2007.

He found “information needs very different than those of my colleagues in Redmond.”

Krishnan Ganapathy: Without India There is No mHealth

Posted by dsasaki on Jul 31, 2008

Krishnan Ganapathy, a practicing neurosurgeon, is the former president of the Neurological Society of India and current president of the Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation. He is also the co-founder of the Telemedicine Society of India, a member of the National Task Force on Telemedicine and an adjunct professor at IIT Madras and at Anna University. He is currently involved in preliminary studies on the clinical evaluation of patients based in rural areas of India, Bhutan, and Bangladesh using wireless telephony. Along with his colleague Aditi Ravindra, Dr. Ganapathy is one of the leading thinkers on mobile health in India and around the world.

What follows is an edited, abridged transcribe from a conversation we had at Rockefeller's Making the eHealth Connection conference. An MP3 of our entire discussion is available for download.

DS: A lot of people don't have an understanding of what mHealth is, what telemedicine is, and how mobile phones are being used by physicians, surgeons, and health care professionals. You've been on the cutting edge of all this for a long time ... can you talk to me about how the way you treat patients has changed over the years with the use of mobile phones?

Krishnan Ganapathy

News, via SMS, claimed to reach 60,000 subscribers in eastern India

Posted by fredericknoronha on Jul 08, 2008

A journlalist I know, Jatindra Dash from the eastern Indian state of Orissa, started this rather interesting SMS-based news-service in the Oriya language which is spoken by some 31 million people. Elsa Patnaik's article on describes it thus:

Mobile Games: Learning About AIDS by Playing Cricket with Condoms

Posted by CorinneRamey on May 10, 2008

In a mobile phone game in India, a cricket match is played between the teams Demons XI and Safety XI. A report about the game describes it as a “cricket-based game involving balls in the form of condoms, faithful partners, information on HIV and the symbolic AIDS red ribbon.” A team wins by avoiding “googlies and doosra balls - unsafe sex, infected blood transfusions, infected syringes and the company of bad friends.”

The game is part of a growing market of "edutainment" mobile phone games -- games that are designed to provide entertainment and be educational at the same time. MobileActive interviewed Hilmi Quraishi, project director of ZMQ Software Systems, to learn more about the project. Hilmi said that when ZMQ was founded in 2003, it wasn't with the intention of developing games for mobile phones. "Initially we were focused on designing technology solutions for the Internet, but then we realized that in order to expand our reach we need to use technology that is reaching the common man," he said.

MILLEE: English Literacy through Games on the Third Screen

Posted by CorinneRamey on Mar 18, 2008

When Matthew Kam first went to India, he noticed the lack of English literacy of children that had studied English for three or four years. Most couldn't read, didn't know simple words, and sometimes couldn't spell their own names. "We realized that those students who had taken English for three years couldn't read every letter in the alphabet," Matt said. "Teachers who were teaching English couldn't speak English themselves." However, the English literacy of these same children improved dramatically when presented with a unique learning tool: a mobile phone.

As part of his research for a computer science Ph.D., Matt is working with a team of researchers and students at the University of California at Berkley in the United States. The project, called MILLEE, or Mobile and Immersive Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies, works to develop mobile phone games aimed at teaching literacy to children in India.

Mobile phone lifeline for world's poor

Posted by Simon Pavitt on Feb 23, 2008

There's a great article about spread of mobile phones in India and Africa on the BBC News website.

For instance, it mentions how migrant Zimbabwean workers in South Africa send money back using M-banking and avoid having to pay bribes to border guards when they go home.

Too much information

Posted by Simon Pavitt on Nov 25, 2007

Officials in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh have stopped a text messaging service that gave out drivers' contact details.

Under the scheme, anyone could send a text to access a vehicle owner's name, address and phone number.

Officials say the original idea was to provide "citizen-centric services" and assist police and investigating agencies: "SMS us the vehicle registration number... and get all the information - vehicle, tax and owner's details etc," read the advertisement put out by the state transport department.

But the facility, launched a year ago, was withdrawn after women complained that they were being harassed by men, and most of the information being sought pertained to young women.

For more info, go to BBC News.

Culture of Mobiles In Rural Areas: Beeping, Flashing, Rapelle Moi - and Your Mobile as a Flashlight

Posted by CorinneRamey on Sep 28, 2007

The rural mobile market is growing, and carriers are working to meet the unique demands and challenges of this sector of the population. Even in the poorest countries -- like Sierra Leone, which ranks 176 out of 177 countries on the UN's 2006 Human Development Index -- mobile phones have become a growing necessity, creating a unique set of cultural norms and practices. According to a recent article in Africa News, "It is no secret that Sierra Leone has one of the largest mobile network services although said to be the least developed country in the West African Sub-Region." Mobile service in Sierra Leone is covered by three carriers -- Mobitel, Celtel and Millicom. Although the network has increased dramatically since the civil war ended in 2000, there is still demand from rural customers for more comprehensive coverage in poor rural areas.