Apply Now for Wireless Innovation Project Awards

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The Wireless Innovation Project from the Vodafone Americas Foundation is designed as a competition to promote innovation and increase implementation of wireless related technology for a better world. Total awards up to $600,000 will be available to support projects of exceptional promise that meet our eligibility criteria.

Types of Projects

The Vodafone Wireless Innovation Project seeks to identify and fund the best innovations using wireless related technology to address critical social issues around the world. Project proposals must demonstrate significant advancement in the field of wireless-related technology applied to social benefit use.

The competition is open to projects from universities and nonprofit organizations based in the United States. Although organizations must be based in the United States, projects may operate and help people outside of the United States.

  • Applicants must demonstrate a multi-disciplinary approach that uses an innovation in wireless-related technology to address a critical global issue in one or more of the following areas:
    1. Social Issue Areas: Access to communication, Education, Economic development, Environment, Health
    2. Technical Issue Areas: Connectivity, Energy, Language or Literacy hurdles, Ease of use
  • The project must be at a stage of research where an advanced prototype or field/market test can occur during the award period.
  • The technology should have the potential for replication and large scale impact.
  • Teams should have a business plan or a basic framework for financial sustainability and rollout.

Winners will be selected for awards of $100,000, $200,000, and $300,000 which will be paid in equal installments over three years.

How to Submit a Proposal

To submit a proposal, Applicants must first successfully complete the Eligibility Questionnaire. Eligible Applicants will then receive the URL for the online application via e-mail and be asked to create a username and password which will enable them to work on their proposal online. The application consists of multiple narrative questions and a project budget spreadsheet that Applicants must complete and submit. All information must be submitted through the on-line application.

Submissions will be accepted from 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time on November 2, 2015 to 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on February 22, 2016 (the “Entry Period”).

Apply Now for 2015 eNGO Challenge

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The 2015 eNGO Challenge Award aspires to create an ecosystem by recognizing and honouring NGOs which are using Information Communication Technology (ICT) and digital media tools for good governance and practices that are benefiting societies and communities at large. It is a joint initiative of Public Interest Registry (PIR) and Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF).

The eNGO Challenge is open in six categories for best use of ICT, mobile, digital media & new or social media by an NGO for:

    • Best Use of Website & Internal Tools (Website):website
      This category focuses on NGOs that are using website to showcase their activities, projects and local content to get networking and support from funding agencies. This category also welcomes NGOs that create awareness on certain issues through campaigning.

 

  • Best Use of Mobile content & Apps (Mobile):mobile
    This category focuses on NGOs that have used mobile tools/Apps for their internal &external communication to drive social change. For example,an NGOis eligible to apply under this category that uses connectivity through mobile phones, sms, video calling or any other means to engage and empower communities at large.

 

 

  • Best Use of e-Commerce (e-Commerce):ecommerce
    This category focuses on NGOs who have used ICT and digital media tools such as e-Commerce, mobile phones, online shopping and social media networkssuch as Facebook & Twitter to promote their business meant for the benefit of a community. For example, an NGO is eligible to apply under this category that usesa website or social media networks for the promotion and trading of products for the benefit of a community.

 

 

  • Best Use of Software Automation & Networking (Tools):tools
    This category focuses on NGOs that use digital media tools for improving and enhancing their organizational efficiency by using networking and software tools such as Wi-Fi, Skype, Tally etc. For example,an NGO is eligible to apply under this category thatuses video-conferencing technology to connect with their regional partners or does staff capacity building program with various ICT tools.

 

 

  • Best Use of social Media (Social Media): Slocial Media
    The category focuses on NGOs that use social media as a tool to get solutions for and from the communities. For example, an NGOis eligible to apply under this category that uses Facebook and twitter to engage communities or inform them about issues.

 

 

  • Best use of e-Content (incl. Audio / Visual / Radio): econtent
    The category focuses on NGOs that empower people to use video or radio to help communities raise their voice for their problems. For example,an NGO is eligible to apply under this category that facilitates people to record video or participate through community radio to share messages or register complains or highlight social issues.

 

The eNGO Challenge Award is open to any registered NGO from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. There are no charges applicable for the eNGO Challenge Award Nomination process.

Your NGO should fulfill the conditions of being an active & ICT based organization. Interested entities can take part in eNGO Challenge by either applying online or contacting expert panel for the nomination process through [email protected]

Apply Now: 2015 ISIF Asia Awards

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The ISIF Asia Awards seek to acknowledge the important contributions ICT innovators have made with creative solutions to the social and economic development of the Asia Pacific region. The ISIF Asia Awards are granted to initiatives on the last stages of implementation or that have finalized activities already that are aligned with the funding categories and eligibility criteria.

Financial support for up to AUD 3,000 is allocated via a competitive process, plus a travel grant to attend the awards ceremony at a regional or global event chosen by the ISIF Asia secretariat. Innovation and a development focus should be an integral part of all award nominations.

Nominations for the 2015 ISIF Asia awards close 30 June 2015
Nominate your project now!
The funding categories are:

  • Innovation on access provision: Access to Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) is a prevalent issue in the Asia Pacific region, especially for services that require broadband connectivity. Innovative solutions offering low cost deployment, low power consumption and low maintenance that expanded fixed and mobile access to the internet through new forms of technical and organizational arrangements as well as improved the quality of access based on issues of accessibility, disability and linguistic diversity.
  • Innovation on learning and localization: Capacity building and localization efforts have been key to develop the skills needed to design, maintain, and manage ICT infrastructure and services in local languages, supporting local talent and creating job opportunities in rural or urban marginalized areas. Innovative, open, inclusive and sustainable approaches to learning and localization are key elements to guarantee the quality of access to knowledge needed to offer reliable services and applications.
  • Code for the common good: High mobile penetration in the AP region has been a catalyst in the development of mobile-based services, applications and software solutions. These solutions have been used to support timely and relevant information dissemination on a large scale using a range of network infrastructures through a variety of devices, even where literacy rates are lower. Mobile technologies have enabled communities to increase participation in political processes, coordinate efforts during emergency situations, receive extreme weather alerts, communicate with remote health services, and receive specialized patient referrals, among many other applications.
  • Rights: Strategic use of Internet tools and services to promote freedom of expression, freedom of association, privacy, security, consumers’ rights, gender equality, new forms of intellectual property in the digital environment, and a wider range of issues related to the Internet and human rights.

In addition to selecting a winner per category, a Community Choice Award will be granted to the best social media campaign (the project with the highest number of votes from the community).

What are you waiting for? Apply today!

Google for Nonprofits Expands to 10 Asia-Pacific Economies

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Congratulations to non-governmental organizations in the Asia-Pacific region. In partnership withTechSoup, Google is now expanding its Google for Nonprofits program to ten new economies: Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Nonprofits can now apply to join the program to access a suite of free Google products and tools, including:

  • Google Ad Grants: Free AdWords advertising to promote their website on Google through keyword targeting.
  • Google Apps for Nonprofit: A free version of the Google Apps business productivity suite, including Gmail, Docs, Calendar, and more.
  • YouTube Nonprofit Program: Build their online presence with YouTube and overlay cards on their videos that link directly to their website.

Personally, I’ve used the Google for Nonprofits platform at two different organizations and it was a game-changer at both, specifically Google Apps.

The service can power enterprise-grade email services with a few clicks, giving organizations a legitimate [email protected] email address (ie. not Gmail.com or Yahoo.com) and powerful email support systems that are actually easy to use. Google Apps also comes with their Drive, Sheets, Docs, and Forms tools, which can totally replace the Microsoft Office software suite and I find far superior to Microsoft’s online software products.

Nonprofits organizations can also leverage One Today, Google’s fundraising platform for Android devices. The app highlights cool projects from different organizations each day, and users can donate if they want to support the cause.

So if you have an NGO in the 10 new economies, get Google for Nonprofits today. You’ll be so glad you did!

Facebook Safety Check for the Nepal Earthquake

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Like many of you, I started to receive Facebook notices on Saturday telling me my friends in Nepal were “marked safe” on Facebook’s Nepal Earthquake Safety Check feature. Launched on the 3rd anniversary of the Japanese Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, the feature is designed to help Facebook users know who of their friends is accounted for in a natural disaster.

Safety Check looks to be a great feature. By alerting others to someone’s post-disaster status, Facebook users can speed up the process of response and recovery. While we often focus on the physical disruption in a disaster, there is an equal or larger emotional disruption.

In the 2014 sinking of the Korean MV Sewol ferry, the entire nation of Korea was traumatized, partly because parents didn’t know which children died and which survived. A Facebook Safety Check could have helped reduced the immediate impact of the capsizing.

For the Nepal earthquake, knowing who is safe, and alleviating worry, is a great benefit for everyone. Thank you Facebook.

Amader Daktar: Improving Rural Health Care via Telemedicine

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There is one doctor per 5,000 people in Bangladesh, but doctors are not evenly distributed within the population, which means that for the majority of rural Bangladeshi, doctors are a rarity. So how can rural people have access to quality medical care?

Doctor in a Tab

Enter mPower Social Enterprises and their Amader Daktar “doctor in a tab” solution that aims to improve rural health care and reduce the number of people whose illnesses are aggravated by a lack of, or delay in, proper diagnosis and treatment. The service currently has 200 locations in Bangladesh and has served over 1,200 clients to date.

Amader Daktar is a tablet PCs and a custom-made app that allows rural healthcare practitioners to act as a telemedicine assistant. The tablet allows an rural medical professional to register patients and pass on vital medical information over mobile internet, which can then be viewed on a web portal by a remote doctor.

The doctor can then initiate a video call to talk to the frontline healthcare worker and the patient sitting in any village bazaar (with access to mobile internet). In the best case scenario, the doctor can then create and send a prescription over the internet to the healthcare worker who can then print it out at his end and hand it over to the patient.

In cases where remote consultations are insufficient, the doctor can advise the patient on the next course of action and recommend nearby facilities that can provide the necessary services.

Expansion into Myanmar

mPower Social Enterprises recently won the $10,000 USAID Mobiles for Development Award and will  expand its Amader Daktar service into Myanmar in partnership with mobile network operator, Telenor, in order to reach rural populations where health care services are difficult to access.

Sai Fah: Gamified Disaster Risk Reduction for Southeast Asia

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Sai Fah: The Flood Fighter is the first gamification mobile app on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). The game follows the adventures of a young boy on a journey to reunite with his mother during a flood disaster. Players learn flood safety lessons as they encounter flood hazards, from live electrical current to dangerous wildlife.

The Thai version of Sai Fah was launched in January 2014. Shortly after its debut, the game reached the No.1 position in the Game/Education category on the iOS platform in Thailand and ranked among the top 70 overall apps in the country. Sai Fah is available in both Thai and English languages. Sai Fah was covered by many international media and became one of official education app recommended by the Ministry of Education in Thailand.

Sai Fah also incorporates a collection of teaching and learning materials on Disaster Risk Reduction in various formats for teachers and learners to download for extended explorations beyond the mobile application.

Sai Fah has been downloaded over 40,000 times in 114 countries and French and Bahasa Indonesia versions are coming up in 2015. UNESCO Bangkok also started to develop Sai Fah 2 on Earthquake and Tsunami experiences with the Red Cross and USAID.

Fighting Maternal and Infant Mortality in India Through Community SMS Text Reporting

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The state of Assam leads the country with the highest maternal mortality ratio (MMR), and one of the highest infant mortality ratios (IMR) in India. These health indicators persist despite the right to safe motherhood protected by the Indian Constitution and guaranteed under national laws and policies. The lack of data on the Adivasi community makes it particularly difficult to address some of the gaps in the implementation of maternal and infant health policies.

For this reason, Nazdeek, PAJHRA and ICAAD have developed the Project “End Maternal Mortality Now” (End MM Now). Launched in April 2014, the Project trained a group of 40 women volunteers living in Balipara and Dhekiajuli Blocks in the Sonitpur District of Assam to identify and report cases of health violations in their communities through SMS. The project has been implemented with the generous support of ISIF Asia.

A major outcome is the report, No Time to Lose: Fighting Maternal and Infant Mortality through Community Reporting. The report brings to light the obstacles that Adivasi women face in obtaining maternal health care in Assam – a state with the highest maternal mortality rate in India.

No Time to Lose is the first attempt in India to collect and map cases of maternal and infant health violations reported by women living in tea gardens through SMS technology. Based on nearly 70 cases reported by community members who participated in the Project, the report offers tangible recommendations for Block and District level health authorities and tea garden management to improve service delivery and save mothers’ and infants’ lives.

“For the first time, civil society in Assam can rely on solid data on the lack of access to maternal health services. Thanks to this data, we have formulated key recommendations to curb the appalling number of maternal deaths among Adivasi women.” – says Barnabas Kindo, from Pajhra.

No Time to Lose identified a significant gap between patients and healthcare providers. Key recommendations include the immediate appointment of a hematologist for the Dhekiajuli Community Health Centre, and the establishment of a more efficient referral system.

“End MM Now has proven to be an invaluable platform for women to monitor and claim access to basic rights and entitlements. Community members have already noted initial positive changes in the delivery of health services”, says Francesca Feruglio, from Nazdeek.

“Shaped by the idea of crowdsourcing, End MM Now maps and visualizes ground-level data, which is verified and made available to the public and the government. This way, the platform bridges an existing information gap and increases transparency in the delivery of health services,” says Jaspreet K. Singh, from ICAAD.

Bridging Nepal’s Urban-Rural Divide in Maternal Healthcare

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Nepal’s reduction in maternal mortality is one of the major success stories hailing from the World Health Organizations’ Millennium Development Goals. In 1990, Nepal suffered 790 maternal mortalities per 100,000 live births. By 2013, that number dropped an astonishing 76% to 190 maternal mortalities per 100,000 live births.

While this progress is no doubt phenomenal, much of it occurred in urban areas. About 90% of Nepali women living in urban areas had at least one care visit prior to birth, and 79% had their births attended by skilled health personnel. The experience of rural Nepali women was much different, where only 56% of women had at least one care visit prior to birth and only 37% of women had births attended by skilled health personnel. Simply put, there aren’t enough traditional resources available to provide rural Nepali women with adequate maternal care.

Amakomaya, or “Mothers Love,” has developed a mHealth platform intended to fill this void. It not only maximizes the efficiency of health providers in rural areas, but also provides educational material to pregnant women who would have no access to it otherwise.

Providing Education

Early marriage is a common occurrence in Nepal. While the legal age to marry in Nepal is 20, the median age of first marriage for women aged 20-49 is just 17.2. In rural settings, many of these young women lack access to any sort family planning or maternal health education. Amakomaya intends to provide these at risk women with a variety of educational materials via an Android based mobile phone application (available here). Mobile penetration in Nepal is over 83%, and a large portion of the population have access to a smartphone.

Additionally, where smartphone resources are unavailable, Amakomaya is donating smartphones to Female Community Health Volunteers (FHCV’s). These volunteers will register pregnant women in their local communities for the Amakomaya program, and distribute the programs content.

Once a user registers for the app, she will begin to receive educational materials tailored to her phase of pregnancy. These materials come in the form of audio, video, and text content, and are all provided in Nepali. It educates the user on what is physically occurring during her pregnancy, what she can expect, and steps she can take to improve her health, and the health of her child. The entirety of the program can be downloaded from the Amakomaya website here.

Another critical driver for the success of the Amakomaya program is that at week 28 of pregnancy, the entire family is incorporated. The material is shared with the pregnant woman’s husband, involving him directly in her care.

Amakomaya for Medical Professionals

In addition to educating pregnant women, Amakomaya also increases the efficiency of care offered by healthcare professionals in rural areas. Any advantage that a provider can gain is of serious import in Nepal, where there are only .29 healthcare workers per 1,000 people. This doesn’t come close to the WHO’s guideline of 2.3 healthcare providers per 1,000 for basic lifesaving care.

Healthcare workers who are registered for Amakomaya can view data regarding the number of pregnant women in their local populations, as well as how far along they are in their pregnancies. This data is gathered when women register for Amakomaya, as the program asks for the date of their last menstrual cycle. It allows rural healthcare workers to adequately prepare for upcoming births by notifying them as local women approach their anticipated due dates.

So far almost 1,000 pregnant women have registered for Amakomaya in 15 different health posts, with plans for expansion. While the program can’t substitute for in person care, it can provide rural Nepalese women with the information they need to properly educate themselves about their pregnancies.

Can eVidyaloka Fix the Learning Crisis in Rural India?

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In 1954, the United Nations designated November 20 as the Universal Children’s Day. Seventy years have passed, but promoting the welfare of the youth has never been more necessary. Too many youngsters worldwide continue to suffer from poverty, abuse, and premature mortality.

When it comes to education, the situation has improved, but there is still a long way to go. 121 million children remain unschooled; and 69 million adolescents have to drop out. Even for those who can enroll, the perspectives are bleak, as they often do not receive the quality education they deserve.

India’s learning crisis

With a 96 percent enrollment rate, India has almost achieved universal primary education. But the country is now dealing with an acute learning crisis that may threaten its development in the long run. A majority of students comes out of school without basic literacy and numeracy skills. Today, 60 percent of 10-year old pupils cannot read a text, and 74 percent are unable to solve a division problem.

The reasons for this crisis are many, but they start with the lack of trained teachers. India faces a shortage of 1.2 million schoolmasters and a high absenteeism rate. Combining this with the curriculum’s low standards, it is easy to understand why the learning outcome is so poor.

Many urban families respond to the situation by sending their children to private schools. But in the countryside where people earn less, most youngsters have no choice but go to public institutions. With their teachers being absent one day in five, the pupils often lose the motivation to study, and a majority drops out by the age of 14.

Connecting rural students with urban teachers

In 2010, in Bangalore, two friends were troubled by their country’s educational crisis, but they had a dream. They were dreaming of solving it using ICTs. Some would have said such dream was unreasonable. But Satish and Venkat had what it takes to make a difference. They were passionate; they were skillful; they were pragmatic.

Looking at the larger picture, they had realized that the level of education has increased in India over the past twenty years. There are now 40 million university graduates, and some are willing to share their knowledge with the less fortunate. As long as they do not have to leave their day job.

While thinking about this issue, it became obvious for Satish and Venkat that the solution would come from the Internet. At the time, they found some inspiration in the Khan Academy, whose tutorial videos were more and more popular. But since they were focusing on under-educated children, they had to find a way to make the courses live.

Back in 2010, the Internet was expanding in India, and Satish and Venkat took a bold decision. They started a nonprofit called eVidyaloka, traveled to isolated villages, and equipped some classrooms with video-conference materials. This way, the students would just have to go next door to take the class; and their teacher could be anywhere around the world.

Transforming the learning experience

School failure should have been the fate of Rajesh. This 10 year old boy lives in a small village, in the state of Tamil Nadu, Southern India. Like most children there, he goes to a public school.

Rajesh enrolled in the eVidyaloka after-school program before it was too late. And participating in this program has transformed the student he was. Before, he was not so passionate about school; now, he reviews his lessons. Before, he was struggling with math; now, he can solve the divisions by himself. Before, his English was terrible; now, he can speak in an articulated manner.

The reasons for such progress? eVidyaloka teachers lecture in Tamil, Rajesh’s mother tongue. They also use videos and practical examples to explain the concepts. For the young boy, this has been enlightening, and he understands what he is being taught. And since the eVidyaloka program complements his school’s curriculum, it only took a few months for Rajesh to improve his grades!

Opening the door to higher education

Implementing an ICT-driven project in rural India has not been easy for Satish and Venkat. They had to deal with power cuts, slow Internet speed, and even monkeys dislodging the cables. But they received a strong support both from the local communities and the Indian volunteers. This has enabled them to open 13 eVidyaloka classrooms in some of the country’s most underdeveloped regions. And their 179 teachers have changed the lives of more than 1,200 children.

Just like young Rajesh, who can now consider going to high school!