“Makes our work more efficient, operations more transparent, will empower field staff, will help us do more & faster – just amazing! Also it is actually quite intuitive & user-friendly!” Participant comment from a shortened LMMS workshop in the UK with Oxfam & Medair.
LMMS has been designed for aid workers who perform their job activities in remote, often off-the-grid field locations. The operational needs of these staff have been analyzed to look at ways in which we can help them to become more efficient in organizing and performing humanitarian work. The result of that analytical work is software that has been designed for better registering of beneficiaries and improved delivery of humanitarian services associated with aid distributions to people affected by disasters. Individuals who are active users of LMMS are typically field staff (hence the “Last Mile” in LMMS). This said, our efforts to work with agencies that are newer to LMMS, will often bring in people whose work isn’t necessarily field-based. Many of these individuals will work at an NGO’s headquarters and may be somewhat removed from how this IT system can be applied to field operations. That makes things tricky as we come together to work on the goals of doing better humanitarian work through technology.
World Vision’s Last Mile Mobile Solutions development team is pleased to announce our partnering agreement with an industry leading Agile software development organization called ThoughtWorks.
ThoughtWorks describes itself as a software company and a community of passionate, purpose-led individuals. Our early indications are that “ThoughtWorkers” certainly live up to their reputation as “disruptive thinkers delivering technology solutions against the toughest challenges, while … creating positive social change”.
This past Tuesday we hosted a fantastic sprint review session for users! The Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs division of World Vision was there, along with people from Zimbabwe and Kenya. Niger’s representative unfortunately had connection problems (perhaps this posting will make up for them not being able to make it).
This review showcased a number of features that we have been working on for the upcoming major release of the both the Server and Mobile Client applications. I’ll be posting updates on each of the sprint reviews that we do on this site as a way to share with readers of this blog, the working code that we demoed during these sessions.
Staff from Oxfam in the Philippines recently received training and support on the use of the LMMS system in their operations, in part thanks to CIDA (see this link). New people on the LMMS team, like Paul Milwa (actually Paul’s been involved with LMMS for a while) and Romi Ryos del Sol (recently trained in KL), were there on the behalf of WVI/LMMS to lead the trainings and to support our Oxfam colleagues, and while the software development team on this occasion did not have an opportunity to witness the preparations leading up to Oxfam’s deployment of LMMS, we did however receive a digital production of the event that you can find below!
Last year my colleague Benny Law and I hosted a session in London for 12 large International NGOs, the ICRC, the IFRC and some UN agencies. Our goal was to help transfer knowledge to our counterparts on the capabilities of mobile technologies using our in-house developed humanitarian software applications.
At the conclusion of the session, we asked all participants from these 12 agencies, a few simple questions to ascertain the perceived value of the systems we had developed.
Q1: Did they see value for the humanitarian sector in the mobile technology software that we had developed?
Q2: Would they see immediate application of the software system we developed within their own operations (i.e. had we modeled the software in a way that had application for different humanitarian actors)?
Q3: Should we stop developing and growing the system or do we forge ahead with new features and functionality that are within the scope of what LMMS is designed for?
The last question was particularly interesting, because it also led so many of the trainees (even the few that weren’t coming with a technical background) to ask about deploying the systems on consumer-grade devices over our existing commercial grade hardware devices (as you’ll see later, this did not have to be an either-or scenario). Moreover, those that had technical backgrounds were vocal in identifying the Android smartphones as the preferred platform of choice.
In our diverse group of aid workers, here was living proof that technology matters. Many of the trainees may not have been able to articulate why Android over other systems or to fully explain the pros and cons of consumer versus commercial grade devices. Yet all of them knew that mobile was important and could be applied inside the humanitarian domain. So why would (or should) humanitarian aid workers care about mobile technology?
I think the answer, lies in the fact that these people had correctly put their fingers on the pulse of the new world reality for humanitarianism. Namely a world in which the mobile technologies are presenting a paradigm shift in how we work, a world that is becoming increasingly networked, and a world in which the potential to access lots of data offers tantalizing opportunities (as well as a zillion risks – but that’s another blog entry in itself).
A study published by the Feinstein International Center (see here for the report and PPTs) reiterates the critical importance of gathering data for better decision-making, better responses and for empowering agencies to live up to standards of impartiality. The findings suggest that ‘Sex and Age Disaggregated Data’ (SADD) are vital to deliver improved responses based on the varying needs of women and men, the elderly and the young. However the research indicates that none of the lead agencies collected such data properly nor did they analyze the information and use that knowledge for better programming!
Learn how LMMS RSA 3.0.0 to be be released very soon, addresses such issues directly by presenting detailed profile informationdisaggregated by gender, age and vulnerabilities!
People attending the London LMMS training event, will get a sneak peek of the ability to generate these reports at a click of a button. If you are interested to learn more, just me directly or connect with us via the blog contact form!
Niger has been implementing a new cash program using LMMS since December 2011. They became the first office to formalize the use of LMMS payment slips as shown below:
All cash payouts are handled by a third party financial provider in Niger (cash under LMMS can be paid out through NGO staff, through third party providers and also through mobile phone e-wallet transfers – additional distribution channels are also being planned for a future release). Every envelope prepared for the beneficiary in Niger under this WFP project, must now have the LMMS generated receipt included.
Last week we had an internal release of LMMS (RSA version 2.8.0 and MCA 3.0.2). This release is going through a battery of tests to ensure its road worthy before we open it up for some field deployments. There are a ton of new requirements inside this latest release and I thought it may be helpful to describe some of these features as a way of helping to further your understanding of the system (and to get feedback please!). So this post delivers details on some of the things to expect under 2.8.0 and 3.0.2.
Paula works in Canada, helping out in myriad of ways … most recently getting a bunch of equipment out the door and into Niger lickidy split. It happens to be her birthday today .. so on behalf of the whole team … “Happy Birthday Ms. Quinlan! May you not be grumpy for the whole day.”
LMMS is a stand-alone system that uses web-based mobile applications to better manage responses to disasters. The system enables digital registration of affected populations and automates how aid-agencies delivery humanitarian services, resulting in more effective, efficient and fully accountable practices.
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