Reporting back on his trip in the Guardian today, David admitted to "a slight colonial attitude going into the meet. Thinking of the UK as a great hacking nation and leading data port, I was expecting to be helping the collected Indian IT professionals and activists improve their skills and give them fresh ideas on how to bootstrap their democracy". But he found great examples of powerful data projects going on amongst his Indian counterparts. These included:
Read fuller descriptions of each of the projects he identified in his article.
Apps 4 Africa is a contest to find the best technology applications to community challenges in health, education, government transparency etc coming out of East Africa. It runs July 1 to August 31 and submissions can be made on the website, Facebook, Twitter (#apps4africa) and through SMS in Kenya (text 3002 w/ keyword ‘apps’ anywhere in the message).
The contest is open to citizens based in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. Others can participate by voting good ideas to the top of the site, where technologists can build tools based on these submissions. Regardless of the final results, these ideas will be accessible to the public long after the contest ends.
The contest is an initiative of the State Department in collaboration with Kenya's iHub incubator, Appfrica, and SODNET. It builds on the success of other apps contest such as Apps for Democracy and USAID Development 2.0
In March this year, the Institute of Medicine and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) convened health care experts, technology developers, Web 2.0 visionaries, and others to explore what could be done with HHS’s community health data. The resulting campaign is called the Community Health Data Initiative. The idea was to explore creative ways that data could be used to raise awareness of community health performance and help consumers and civic leaders understand how best to improve health.
In the three months since, more than a dozen applications using HH's community health data have been developed. They are being introduced today in a public forum. The Community Health Data Forum will be discussing ongoing efforts of innovators using community-level health data to empower communities to make informed choices about their health.
Steve Downs of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation explains the significance of today's event:
It sounds like a tasteless joke, but it's a real concept. iHobo is the application developed by Depaul- the UK's largest youth homeless charity. Download the app onto your iPhone and you become carer for iHobo over the course of 3 days. It's your responsibility to keep him fed and looked after, and stop his situation spiraling out of control. At the end of the 3 days, there's a direct appeal to donate either 3, 5 or 10 pounds to the charity.
The application immediately drew criticism for trivializing the issue, and worse, stereotyping young people affected by homelessness (if things start to go wrong, iHobo sells his sleeping bag for drugs). Chief executive Paul Marriott is obviously aware of the tension, commenting in The Guardian: "Is this a Tamagotchi-style approach to playing with a homeless person? We're very clear on that one," he insists. "While the name is a carefully considered attempt to attract attention, this is not a game and there is no winner in the conventional sense."
If it was intended to raise the profile of Depaul, then it's a runaway success; at the end of last week iHobo was at the top of the iTunes download chart. But Depaul needs it to have an impact on levels of donations too. The average age of a Depaul donor is currently 65. The aim of the application is to reach out to younger donors, helping them to connect to the realities of the issue through an interactive experience.
Watch the video below to find out more: