Nonprofits & NGOs Using Mobile Phones and SMS for Social Change
The recent Mobile World Congress (held every year in Barcelona) coincided with an interesting NetSquared ThinkTank question: "How Can Nonprofits and NGOs Use Mobile Phones and SMS for Social Change?" - I fully intended to throw my five pence worth in, especially as I was blogging for the 65K strong internal audience of a major mobile technology firm, but with so many other deadlines that week, this was one I missed. Lots of others did make it though, including at least one other delegates at the congress, and I highly recommend that you head over to Britt Bravo's excellent sum-up here.
Also, here are some links to people well worth knowing if this is an area of interest - first up is SwarmTeams, run by the indefatigable Ken Thompson. I first ran into him at an event held by the RSA in partnership with Policy Unplugged back in 2006 and got to try an early beta which I have to admit I wasn't too taken with. Then I ran into Ken again at the Digital Media Literacy Summit 2007 and he kindly gave me a second chance. Well, the concept has come a very long way ... Here's a tool for engaging people with SMS that really works. A couple of favourite features are notice-board posting from your phone and audience questions for conference Q&As, but there is much more functionality. Have a look at http://home.swarmteams.com/ - the site is commercially oriented, but I know Ken would like to work with the 3rd sector too.
Last but not least - whilst the Mobile World Congress is driven around new developments such as Femtocells, LTE and WiMAX, an award is also handed out for 'Best Use of Mobile for Social & Economic Development' - in conjunction with the GSMA Development Fund. Also, there was a panel on technology to reach the bottom of the pyramid which specifically dealt with some of the unique challenges of deploying mobile networks in emerging economies. An example of one opportunity that could help drive development in some areas is to bring banking to the unbanked - as covered here.
Earlier articles that may be of interest: