Mobile phone-based humanitarian projects need greater co-ordination

From Global development | The Guardian Thu Dec 20 2012, 09:30:03

Mobile technology can help save more lives, but there are challenges to overcome. Handing out phones isn't enough

In the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake in 2010, Twitter was spontaneously used by response teams to share information and images, gather donations for the relief effort and even to indicate isolated outbreaks of cholera. A recent report in the American Journal of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine subsequently found that systematically using social media helped track the spread of cholera much more quickly than existing mechanisms.

Since Haiti, mobile phone-based humanitarian projects have proliferated, piggybacking on the rapid increase in mobile subscriptions in the developing world - now estimated at 77.8 per 100 inhabitants. With very few of these 'mobile for good' projects ever reaching scale, it is hardly surprising that a consensus now exists on the need for greater co-ordination of these initiatives to unlock their full potential.

New research funded by Save the Children and the Vodafone Foundation - Mobile Technology in Emergencies -sets out how this might be achieved by governments, civil society organisations and the private sector working in partnership.

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