Friday, 8 January 2010

lff10 Androids in Africa by Nick Short

Today I was following the presentation and live discussion on the topic of Android phones for Africa by Nick Short, Andrew Hagner and Niall Winters, taken place during the Learning Future Festival 2010, an online conference organized by the University of Leicester. Notes taken during the presentation and the following discussion: Mobile phone penetration in Africa.

New opportunities to old challenges

  • One health and veterinary apps
  • Android in Africa initiative
  • Future possibilities
  • Mobile penetration is increasing in Africa.

There is only one health, a lot of the human diseases are related to animal diseases and vica versa. Swine flue and blue tongue => new diseases will come increasingly quickly, so it is very important to be able to control and follow those new diseases.

New opportunities

  • Open data kit and epicollect apps (open source, look here )
  • Geo-spatial tools allow mapping: accurate location of diseases AND it can be added to data
  • Central data aggregation in the ‘cloud’: raises issues about ownership, access, security…
  • Off line facility and SD card storage: access to bandwidth is a challenge in Africa, so off line is very important, enabling transfer of data in a later date.
  • Potential to play video and audio casts, put available via Wikipedia.
  • Two way communication to build CoP: fundamental to the success of the project

Question: what is the relative cost of phones in comparison to African wages. Answer: phone prices are still very high, but the android phones are cheaper because it is open to change. So we provided phones with free charges to the users.

Question: network costs? Answer: we tried to find sponsors and we are exploring constraints and a lot of issues related to mobile projects. Coverage of the networks are still very variable, but generally good access is possible.

One health

  • Integrated approach to disease control
  • Responding to new climatic challenges
  • Relies on integration of services: where the community, the health care workers, … all work together. Good community involvement is essential.
  • Use of disease surveillance tools
  • Building new communities

Appropriate and practical technologies

  • Developed from a UK JISC funded project
  • Builds on expertise from many centres
  • Exploring use of mobile devices on front line (disease investigation and monitoring, eLearning and information source). The participants were not too eager on the elearning part of the project.
  • Pilot project in Zanzibar: tried to see what the stakeholders really wanted in order to get a real useful project going.
  • Full project starts in 2010

Looking at great blog:

One Africa, One Health project:

future possibilities

  • working with handset and network providers
  • use of devices as educational tools
  • developing context situated resources
  • building new communities of practice
  • improving quality and efficiency of feedback

A wiki that is downloadable and accessible fully online (great!):

Another great link, wikipedia on iPhone:

Cow uterus content:

One of the key challenges: translating them all in local languages:|sw|Nick

Question has the project the potential to be scaled up? Answer: mobile technology will have a very profound effect in low resource areas. But there is also a big commercial issue. We need to build on that momentum.

And a great movie with all three speakers:

Nick Short, Niall Winters & Andrew Hagner, RVC Vetaid from Africa Gathering on Vimeo.