Wayan Vota: DevEx 40 Under 40 International Development Leader in Washington DC

Wow! I’ve been named a young international development leader by DevEx, the world’s largest community of aid & development professionals. Devex just published a first-of-its-kind list of the top 40 international development leaders in Washington, DC who are under 40 years of age. And I’m on it. I was selected based on my ballot box […]

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How Donors Can Expand National Health Information Systems

Vital Wave Consulting has asked my opinion a very simple, yet profound question:

What should the donor community do to expand national health information systems in the developing world?

Speaking as a technologist on a mission to change the way international development employs information and communication technology (ICT) to reach its aims of economic and social development, I am honored for the opportunity to present the key activities I believe donors need to engage in immediately to better implement national HIS.

mhealth
Move past mHealth (Img: DataDyne)

Recognize Problems Are Human, Not High-Tech

In Washington DC, I convene the Technology Salon a monthly conversation between international and technology professionals, and recently we tackled the barriers to effective deployment of national health information systems. After a hour of debate, we came to the conclusion that the key national HIS success technology is change management.

That is deploying a national health information system successfully does not necessarily require the high-end technology resources available to richer countries. The major hurtles to successful national health information systems are human, not high-tech.

Having a clear goal of improving data quality, and a solid change management approach to achieve is the critical success factor. And this can be accomplished in countries as varied in resources as Belize, India, and Sierra Leone, regardless of what technology or technical approach is used.

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A Whole New Technology Salon Experience

I am proud to announce that the Technology Salon is now officially sponsored by the United Nations Foundation’s Technology Partnership with the Vodafone Foundation. In April of 2008, I started the Technology Salon as a forum where technology and development professionals could share there opinions on emerging trends in information and communication technologies and international […]

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Designing a Micro Mobile Telco: April Technology Salon

Mobile phones are an amazing success story in the developing world, bringing transformative opportunities to many underserved communities. But they do not reach out to remote rural villages – where there is demand and purchasing power, albeit limited – and a scaleable micro mobile teclo solution could transform communications and development for the poorest of the poor.

rural micro mobile telco
Rural communications entrepreneurs exist

So what might be the business and technology models that would allow entrepreneurs to roll out mobile phone systems to these underserved communities? And could development organizations play a role?

Which technology would be best: GSM? WiFi? WiMax? What’s the business case: Handset sales? Subscriptions? Airtime Only? Could voice services be augmented with data? Even broadband? How might an entrepreneur serve 400 customers at $10 per month revenue or $48,000 per annum? And should aid organizations seed these businesses?

Join David Ferguson, for a lively discussion of possible micro mobile telco models and expect to hit the whiteboards with your ideas.

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mHealth in Development: March Technology Salon

Epidemics and a shortage of healthcare workers continue to present grave challenges for governments and health providers in the developing world. Yet in these same places, the explosive growth of mobile communications over the past decade offers a new hope for the promotion of quality healthcare – billions now have access to reliable technology that can also support healthcare delivery.

mhealth
Mobile-empowered healthcare

How can this access to mobile technology, radically improve healthcare services – even in some of the most remote and resource-poor environments?

Please join Inveneo’s Eric Blantz and Vital Wave Consulting’s Dr. Karen Coppock in a discussion around mHealth – how technology can empower better and more efficient healthcare services throughout the developing world, with an emphasis on mobile and cellular technologies.

Opportunities for mHealth in Development
March Technology Salon in San Francisco
March 3rd, 8:30-10am
@ Inveneo
972 Mission Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco

Of special focus is the recent United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership report, mHealth for Development, authored by Vital Wave Consulting.

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Cell Phones vs Computers: February Technology Salon

With the explosion of mobile handsets and the faltering of the “$100 laptop” idea, the international development community is focusing on the mobile phone as an empowerment tool, while questioning investments in computers. Is this wise? Is there a data continuum that includes both? Or should development dollars really shift to one platform at a loss to the other?

cell phone africa
The primary development platform?

Please join us for a spirited debate where Troy Etulain of USAID will push us to envision a future where development objectives are achieved on mobile phones, while Wayan Vota will back computers, desktops even, as the true tool of choice to accelerate development with technology.

Katherine Townsend of State will moderate the discussion with an eye to finding realistic recommendations for the development community.

Our gracious host is the UN Foundation and I’ll have coffee and donuts for a good morning sugar rush to wake everyone up.

Mobile Phones vs. Computers: a False ICT4D Choice?
February Technology Salon
Thursday, February 12th, 8:30-10am
UN Foundation Conference Room
1800 Mass Avenue, NW, Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20036 (map)

Do note that seating is limited and the UN Foundation is in a secure building. So the first dozen (12) to RSVP will be confirmed attendance and then there will be a waitlist.

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December Technology Salon: Fighting Terrorism w/ ICT

In northern Mali, out beyond the famously remote Timbuktu, distances are vast and communication difficult. National borders often are less than lines in the sand, and the rule of law just a vague idea. In this power vacuum, bandits still hijack convoys, Tuareg stage rebellions, and terrorist organizations can take root and train.


Communicating community security

Yet one brave organization is connecting remote Malian communities to reduce the threat of banditry or worse. Geekcorps Mali is building links between caravans, villagers, and local government – with information and communication technologies.

Geekcorps Mali has developed an innovative ICT intervention that marries FM radio broadcasting with Internet-enabled computers and digital audio recording to give a voice to local communities. The radio stations have become beacons of objective information and a de-facto early warning system for northern Mali and even the country as a whole.

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November Technology Salon: Computers in Schools TCO

For November, we have a very special Technology Salon. In coordination with the World Bank e-Development Thematic Group and infoDev, we will have a World Bank ICT and Education Community of Practice Discussion on Total Cost of Ownership:

How much does it really cost to introduce and sustain computers in schools? A discussion of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and models of affordable computing for schools in developing countries.

Come join what we hope to be a lively presentation and discussion of the findings of both activities, their potential implications, and the underlying methodologies and assumptions underpinning the models explored in this work.

Speakers:

Logistics:

11am to 12:30pm – 6 November 2008
The World Bank “J” Building,
701 18th Street, NW, room J-B1-075

While this Technology Salon promises to be larger than usual, seating is still limited, so please

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September Technology Salon: USAID ICT4D Challenges


Let’s solve his ICT4D challenges

The Technology Salon returns to Washington DC this September 25th to explore an innovative initiative from USAID: ICT4D Challenges.

Akin to the contests that had Lindbergh cross the Atlantic and Rutan/Branson cross into space, ICT4D challenges (contests, makeovers, and competitions) will leverage user-driven innovation to create ICT-based solutions for major development challenges, with the incentive of cash prizes and possible inclusion in a USAID project. These challenges will spur innovation at the nexus of development and technology while forging new connections between the technology and development communities.

What better forum to explore where USAID is going with these challenges and help shape that path than the Technology Salon, our intimate and informal discussion of technology and development?

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July Technology Salon: Empowering m-Banking, Legally


The future bank teller

For the July Technology Salon, we’re returning to the cellular technology world, with a twist. We’ll be discussing mobile banking, m-Banking, but we’ll move beyond the handsets and the hype to discuss the legal frameworks required to make it a reality.

In some countries, text messages cannot be used as evidence in court – a problem if that’s all you have to show for a money transfer. In other regions, cross-border and multi-currency transactions is the domain of banks, not mobile operators. In either situation or more, what is the development community’s response to facilitate m-Banking?

Please join Michael Tetelman of AED, and Ann Casanova of CARANA, at the UN Foundation headquarters for a vibrant discussion of their work in overcoming legal and regulatory barriers to make local and intra-regional m-Banking a reality in the developing world.

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