As the population demographics of the United States are continuing to highlight the large and growing Hispanic community, it is necessary that their community is represented on the web and that they have access to markets. Carla Briceno is a passionate leader in involving Latin Americans and the Hispanic population in the United States into the marketplace through communication web tools and data visualization. She is the Co-Founder of Bixal, a company founded to engage and serve the Hispanic markets. Her efforts to promote these communities is motivating and relevant to our current and future global community.
Before co-founding Bixal, she has worked in a variety of areas in the public and private sector. Briceno served as a Peace Corp Volunteer in rural Guatemala, worked as a researcher and consultant measuring impacts of projects, and has most recently been working on various web developing projects such as translation, development of web-based applications, and data visualization tools.With Bixal, she has been involved on a variety of projects, and she has a wide range of clients from the Panamanian Ministry of Commerce to non-profits. Although Briceno has worked mainly on connecting online communities for issues involving international trade, Bixal is now working toward developing mobile communications for women’s health. She is collaborating with Peruvian colleagues to create a data cloud on Drupal, an open source content management platform, that can be accessed on smart phones. The cloud would provide information to help promoters on tracking cases and content to share with women who they are monitoring in a tablet format. She is also hoping to develop partnership with mobile companies to add an element of texting that can be accessed without a smart phone.
When asked what advice she would give to students, Briceno responded by saying that students planning to work in the international development realm need to have hands on technology skills and experiences, especially with web and mobile communications, along with foreign language skills. She advised that students get involved in the private sector to begin with and bring those skills to the public sector in later years. Briceno is active on social media through Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and is a great person to talk to if you are pursuing a career path in her field. I found it very impressive that she is very involved in raising her two children bilingual, and even uses social media to connect others in the region with a similar interest in doing so.
I can say without hesitating that Carla Briceno’s work is making a difference. She is a positive thinker and uses her specialized skills in web developing and management to put forth her objectives in expanding the web presence of Hispanic communities and markets. Briceno is using ICTs for development while improving her own quality of life, a business model that will continue to ensure success.
We have thoroughly discussed the problems and successes with the Kony video and Invisible Children. I was mostly impacted by seeing what an essential need it is to have the continual collaboration with those you are attempting to help. Invisible Children, from what I heard from our guest speaker and what I have read, has a very outsider’s approach to development with respect to whom they work with. I spent some time researching what other organizations are in northern Uganda, and I found one involved with ICT and development, and most importantly, westerners are not the only ones directing it.
BOSCOUganda is an NGO working to bring ICTs (mainly Internet access) to Northern Uganda to “foster socio-economic development and peace building in rural communities”. They state their role and their partners on their Internet page. They are strongly linked to the Archdiocese of Gulu, and the staff reflects this. Most are from Northern Uganda, but there is a variation of backgrounds. The natives are the ones implementing the change.
However, there is an American board of directors of BOSCO USA. The President and Founder, Gus Zuehlke, visited Gulu and decided that he wanted to contribute to alleviate their intense suffering. He contacted the Archoiocese of Gulu and together designed solutions with the locals. The role of the westerners is to bring in their ideas and their funding but with the help of the native people. Specifically, BOSCOUganda manages all Internet sites in the Amuru and Gulu districts, develops content focused on education and peace building for BOSCO’s Intranet system, supports expansion through new proposals and partnerships, and manages communications between local, regional and international stakeholders in partnership with BOSCO USA. I believe this is the best way to implement an international project with support from abroad and a combination of ideas.
Our guest speakers both spoke about the role of westerners in development. It is a difficult subject, but there are many organizations, like BOSCOUganda, who seem to be listening to complaints of the western superiority complex and are responding appropriately. This takes us back to an earlier lesson from Unwin about the importance of communication. We all must communicate effectively and figure out the real needs before going forward with a project.
The Philippines is reported to gain $200 billion ($50 billion in direct revenue and $150 billion in indirect investments in the economy) in the local ICT industry. The government is supporting the ICT industry and has plans to invest significantly in “programs, policy development, marketing, and research and talent development”.
After developing the Philippine Digital Strategy (PDS) in 2010, the Philippines have worked to make improvements in the sector. National industry associations and stakeholders in the ICT industry met at various national conferences to brainstorm expansion initiatives and contribute ideas—the first time an ICT event or workshop of this scale has taken place.
I immediately thought back to our discussion of ICT4$ versus ICT4D. Erik Henderson criticizes ICT4D for its top-down approach and says it represents a “mental roadblock” and is an “import culture”. The Philippines’ ICT initiatives have demonstrated how a national coordinated effort could be the best way to solve real needs within communities. The government is investing heavily in commercial ventures, but with a focus on education and community objectives as well. This way the investment will see massive returns in efficient human capital, benefiting the overall economy.
Wayan believes that there can be ICT4D and ICT4$ with the same overall goals of making money while improving quality of life. I agree with this view and believe this will be a key component in furthering the socio-economic development of the Philippines.
As we examined in class this past Wednesday, Ushahidi has the potential to be incredibly useful in disaster management. There are many complications and questions as to who is responsible for using the information that is preventing the maximum potential of the technology. This is a very complex issue that needs to continue to be discussed in order for disaster recovery technology to improve. However, Ushahidi is not only used for disaster management, but has proved to be useful in other development projects and cases.
In the Cost of Chicken Project, Ushahidi is used to communicate information about food to children all over the world from San Francisco to India. Young children from age 8 collect data about the prices of food and where the food originally comes from and are able to access the data that others have reported. Children are able to learn about social development along the lines of nutrition and essential information about their food sources. For example, a child can find out how far the food traveled, if farmers used pesticides, where to get good quality food, or other determinants of documenting local food conditions.
The developers of the Cost of Chicken Project claim they use Ushahidi because it is easy to use and they had already known about it. In this case, the technology is being used successfully because the dispersers and users of the information were the ones seeking it. One of the problems of using Ushahidi for disaster management is the technology is still looking for those to use and apply the information.
Another recent use of Ushahidi is the mapping of technology innovation and entrepreneurship centers in Africa by BongoHive. This will support entrepreneurs and capacitate them to develop technology.
I do not doubt that Ushahidi is a very useful tool, but there needs to be other partners that are willing to take the initiative of using the information. Overall, I am impressed and excited by what change is to come with Ushahidi and other crowdsourcing technology.
MasterCard’s Mobile Money Partnership Program has selected Sybase 365, a company focused on advancing mobile commerce services, to be a money technology provider. The companies aim to give banks and mobile operations an “’open’ payment solution to enable and enhance the consumers’ mobile commerce experience”.
The new program would allow “financially underserved customers” to gain entrances to markets which they couldn’t before, as they did not have the modern mainstream financial services in place. With an easier and more efficient way to pay for services, there will be more opportunities for small businesses in the developing world to grow. Consumers will be able to “transfer funds, pay bills , and purchase goods and services via their mobile phones” at merchants that accept MasterCard cards.
This is an effective initiative that will help developing nations develop economically. Mobile money provides services to those without banks and could also aid in microfinance initiatives. It advances the developing world’s emerging markets while at the same time creating profit for the producers. With incentives on both sides of the equation to advance this technology, success is sure to come. The program has a potential to grow out from under MasterCard to enable all cards to be used, and will hopefully further open the producers availability to use the technology.
However, there are many issues that need to be considered like the price of the systems and the security. The mobile money plan must have consumer confidence for the program to flourish. The financial institutions need to communicate to consumers how the technology works and whether it is reliable and secure. With adequate infrastructure and communication from financial institutions, I believe that this technology has the ability to enable entrepreneurship and business in the emerging market.
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As discussed in class and in other blog posts, the OLPC project has many problems preventing the computers to be successful as an education project. The Firstpost article, “Aakash vs OLPC: How fair is Jha’s anti-tablet grouse?” discusses how the president and the CEO of the OLPC project in India, Satish Jha, openly criticized Aakash, a similar project aimed at increasing education through giving children tablets, months before OLPC introduced its own tablet.
Jha claimed that the Aakash is a “product of deluded dreamers who are out of touch with the realities of technology product development” and will not be able to replace what computers are able to do. He also stated that it has “little to do with education”, as the tablet can only work off of a wifi network. However, Jha wants to introduce the OLPC to Indian students, which seems very hypocritical.
This situation demonstrates that there is not communication between the global leaders of OLPC and the regional leaders, another factor preventing success. OLPC needs to stop using a top-down approach and seek advice from regional technology development practitioners. If Jha believes that a tablet is not a realistic technology for Indian students, then he should not be using the resources to promote the technology and should remain distributing laptops. There are many problems that need to be addressed with the OLPC program, and one of the key aspects that needs to improve is communication.
The possibility of replacing kerosene lamps with solar powered lights in the developing world has been slim, but as the technology is becoming cheaper, sunlight as the primary source of energy may be achievable. The Economist article, “Starting from Scratch”, explains how a British company, Eight19, has developed a system of scratch cards in order for an African family to be able to pay for the technology at a slower and cheaper rate. Eventually, the family will be able to own the technology and would not have to pay any more if they choose so, or they could buy an upgrade.
The implementation plan for the solar-powered systems seems legitimate and efficient. However, adequate information and communication about the software are going to be necessary components in allowing these technologies to be successful. There are many details that the company needs to pay close attention to. For example, the directions for the manual must be able to be understood by all, literate or illiterate. The company should possibly consider audio or visual directions. The features of the product need to be accessible and properly explained, so everyone has the chance to obtain the maximum benefits.
Also, the community should have the desire to want this software and should not be forced to adapt it. Top-down development initiatives in the past have failed, as the communities’ needs have not been discussed with the communities themselves. With well-communicated information about this technology dispersed, solar power could have the potential to change the developing world’s standard of living. More efficient and cheaper means of an energy source should be a focus, but Eight19 needs to be sure to communicate the information effectively.
The Economist, “Starting from Scatch”:
An entrepreneurial spirit and proper governmental structures have contributed to the success of the United States to develop technological improvements. According to Joichi Ito, head of the Media Laboratory at MIT, the region including the Middle East and North Africa is “on the cusp of creating its own Silicon Valley”. However, the adequate government and corporate structures need to be in place as well as a cultural change to develop a less risk adverse society.
With policies that encourage entrepreneurship, the digital divide could decrease on a national and global level. More opportunities in each socio-economic class will lead to more ideas and technological advances increasing the amount of information circulating in the region. Better corporation policies and a stronger legal system will allow more small companies to grow and increase equality. ICT policies in place will be able to strengthen and there will be openings and more freedom to access the markets. The lower socio-economic class will be able to participate and bridge the inequality gap.
An entrepreneurship society would invite investors and allow outside ideas to flourish in the Middle East and North Africa. Technological advances are sure to come with the adequate policies in place, the monetary backings from investors, and the enthusiasm of those with ideas to expand the amount of information in the country.