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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cell phones/text messaging for development

I'm looking at some links/info on this topic b/c a friend is involved with an organization called the Flip Flop Foundation, and is interested in if/how they can use cell phones in Zambia as part of their mission:

I remembered seeing this article in the NYT earlier this year, about how a Reuters employee named  saw an application for mobile phones and text msg'ing in providing market data to rural farmers in India; Reuters is currently testing the program, called "Reuters Market Light":

A Google search led to a number of news piece about how text msgs are being used in S Africa in a public health context.  This 2003 BBC piece describes how individuals who suffer from TB and/or HIV are reminded to take their medication:

"Text messages prove a life-saver"

A related initiative in S Africa is using the extra space left in "PCM" ("Please call me") text msg's to ask people to get tested and treated for HIV; both these articles from the past few months describe this "Project M" (M is Masiluleke, which apparently means "wise council" in Zulu):

"Texts used to tackle South Africa HIV crisis"

"The Transformative 120: Text Messages Prove a South African HIV Lifeline"

Here is the link to the Project M's homepage:

Google also led me to this interview with a guy named Ken Banks, who has been working on applying mobile technologies to development--in particular in Africa--for a number of years:

"Cell phones, text-messaging revolutionalize conservation approaches: An interview with IT conservation expert Ken Banks"

That page in turn led me to the website for, which Banks founded:

Finally, to bring this back around, both Banks and the Reuters employee who developed Reuters Market Light did so through the Reuters Digital Vision Program at Stanford:

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