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).
The Philippines has become the newest country to start LMMS deployments.
As noted by the UN’s World Food Programme’s Beatrice Tapawan:
“A first in Southeast Asia: Pioneering ‘Last Mile Mobile Solutions System’ to enhance accountability to Typhoon Bopha affected persons
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 information disaggregated 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.”
I’ve just gotten of a plane from South Africa where I have been for the last 7 days. The jet lag is horrid, but the major outcome of the meeting is a good feeling. How often do projects begin as pilot initiatives but never move beyond that status?
“Have you ever tried to stand in a line for hours to receive a handout? Can you imagine how you’d feel? The indignity of the situation? The physical strain of standing that long, in the heat and the dust? Not to mention the bureaucratic nightmare of all the forms and papers to sign. That’s where the beauty of LMMS technology really shines.” Posted by Sylvie Barak (RCR Wireless, April 2011).
On January 12th 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the southern portion of Haiti. The poorest nation with one of the highest population density in the western hemisphere was left reeling with hundreds of thousands killed or injured and more than a million people left homeless. The NGO I work with, World Vision, was one of the first to respond. In addition to providing water and food, we took responsibility for shelter construction in a number of locations. In May of last year, I was helping out at a place called Corail Camp, about 10Km outside of Port Au Prince. This was land slated to become home to over a thousand families. I remember the stress, dust and arguments as we worked to get the camp ready. Corail seemed so desolate and far removed from the capital. Its remoteness was a worry to me and yet, it offered the potential to get some people out of the risky, congested tent-cities in the capital. Still, Corail would only be able to deal with a tiny fraction of population affected. Privately I wondered how we could ever make a difference just given the scale of the problems.