The Digital for Development field has enormous potential—and plenty of room for learning. We launched this blog as part of our own learning process, and we hope to engage the Digital for Development community as we find our way forward.

9 Lessons on Digital Design From ICT4D 2017 in Hyderabad

Tags: Digital Principles

I spent the last week at the 2017 ICT4D conference in Hyderabad, a four-day feast of presentations, discussions, and panels on how international development organizations are using new technologies in their work overseas.

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What Bike to Work Day Tells Us About Open Data

Tags: Data

More than 17,000 Washington, D.C.-area residents are commuting by bicycle today, as part of the 17th annual Bike to Work Day. The event’s rising popularity parallels the region’s growing investment in bicycle infrastructure and multimodal transportation. This is a positive trend, particularly for those of us who want cities and urban areas to provide safe, convenient, and diverse transportation options for all residents. But is there a larger message for international development? What can Bike to Work Day tell us about the importance of open data for civic engagement?

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How to Run an Electronic Cash Transfer Program: A Kenyan Case Study

Tags: KenyaElectronic Cash TransferEconomic Growth

Working on an ICT team can sometimes feel like being the Morpheus of the development world—all we want to do is show development project teams that digital tools can unleash immense potential. So we try our best to sneak ICT elements into projects in any way possible: short blurbs in project proposals, ICT strategy documents while on technical assignments in the field, or straight-up bribery. Whatever it takes to sugarcoat the red pill. So imagine our surprise when we were asked to meet with a DAI-led project that already has multiple ICT tools integrated into its workflow: the Kenya Hunger Safety Net Programme Phase 2 (HSNP2), funded by the U.K. Department for International Development.

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GeekFest 2017: Exploring Mobile Money and Women’s Financial Inclusion with Yasmin Bin-Humam

Tags: Geekfest 2017Digital Financial ServicesEconomic Growth

geek fest logo

Welcome to GeekFest 2017, a series of interviews featuring ICT4D thought leaders. Our goals for #geekfest2017 are: to highlight the people and organizations who are pushing the field in new directions, to feature their work and show how it’s different or new, and to support the overall growth of the ICT4D community.

In this installment, I’m picking the brain of my own sister, Yasmin Bin-Humam, a Financial Sector Specialist at the World Bank Consultative Group to Assist the Poor. Yasmin is establishing a community of practice focusing on solutions to improve women’s access to financial services, such as mobile and digital services.

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Takeaways From F8: It’s Zuckerberg’s World—We’re Just Living In It

Tags: Innovation

F8, Facebook’s annual conference, was my first trip to Silicon Valley—I’ve been to the Silicon Wadi in Israel and the Silicon Savannah in Kenya, but never had I stepped foot where it all began. It was the perfect sort of baptism by fire into the ethos of the place that brought us semiconductors, personal computing and smartphones: a gathering where the future is dreamed up by developers and defined by technology’s limitless potential. It was wild.

I’ll outline below a few of the innovations that are particularly relevant to the work we do, and then make an argument for why the practice of ICT4D is more important than ever.

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First Contact with the Planet API and NodeJS

Tags: Remote Sensing SeriesData

We love remote sensing here at DAI and luckily for us, satellite imagery APIs are starting to pop up all over, like springtime flowers. One of the most prominent imagery providers is Planet, a small company with lofty service and product offerings for remote sensing. Planet builds and launches small satellites that image the entire world every day. It provides access to that imagery through a web platform, and it gives developers access to its data through a web API.

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Meet Honduras's Innovation Community

Tags: InnovationHonduras

01.JPG Chronogram of the 2016 Honduras Startup accelerator from hondurastartup.com

In December 2016, I spent a month in Honduras helping launch the new USAID Local Governance Activity and, replicating some work I did in El Salvador last year, I decided to get to know the innovation and technology community. Why?

DAI is currently launching four new USAID-funded projects in Honduras: local governance, a justice & human rights project, an environmental governance project, and the new school-based violence prevention project. My goal in writing this piece is the same as it was when I wrote Hey USAID, Want to Promote Innovation?: to get those new projects to think creatively about how to achieve their goals.

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Digital Insights Rwanda: How Do Rural Youth Use New Technologies?

Tags: Digital InsightsRwanda

In early March, I spent a week in Rwanda building a profile of how young people in rural areas use media and technology and interact with rural financial institutions (RFIs). With the help of the Rural Youth Agribusiness Forum (RYAF), we interviewed 116 young people (aged 17 to 34) in a ring of towns and villages outside the capital, Kigali.

header-5c6d35.jpg A Digital Insights interview in a rural area outside Kigali.

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SXSW 2017: The More Trends Change, the More They Stay the Same

Tags: Innovation

The annual South by Southwest Interactive Music and Film Festival with all of its thought-provoking panels, workshops, keynote speakers, and booths demonstrating the latest gizmos, gadgets, applications, and trends has come and gone—and for the second year, I was in attendance to make some sense of it all.

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Jhatkaa: Tech-enabled Citizen Advocacy in India

Tags: GovernanceInnovation

Our top post of 2016 was my interview with Avijit Michael, the director of Indian citizen advocacy organization Jhatkaa. In his interview, Avijit mentioned they had created a tool for citizens to report local issues via WhatsApp. Needless to say, we were intrigued. So, in the spirit of investigative journalism, we sent one of our staff members to India to find out more.

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Digital Insights Bangladesh: How Urban Youth Stay Connected

Tags: Digital Insights

It’s late January in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which means I’ve managed to avoid the usual heat and humidity, but the bustle and throng are just what I’d expect of one of South Asia’s largest cities. Even though I grew up in India, I’ve never had the chance to travel to its sister republic to the east. And yet, all at once, everything seems familiar—the cars, the noise, the smells. My guide through the city is Ontiq Dey, an eager young graduate student of economics and a seasoned data collector. He and four of his classmates are DAI’s street team for our first-ever Digital Insights study in South Asia.

Image 1.jpg Digital Insights data collectors gathering information from students in Mymensingh.

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Ecosystem Insights: How Trade Associations in Rural Afghanistan Use Mobile Tech

Tags: Ecosystem InsightsEconomic Growth

We’re pleased to launch a new research product on the blog today: Ecosystem Insights (EI). EI seeks to understand how key groups of stakeholders use digital tools to connect with each other and share information, pushing beyond the individual personas of our Digital Insights work to gain insights into how groups access and use ICT in both their personal and professional lives. We conducted this research alongside our partner CIPE’s star provincial teams in Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, and Nangarhar. Not surprisingly, even in rural Afghanistan, smartphone and social media penetration rates are much higher than currently published reports account for. These findings continue to prove that DAI’s investment in this research is worthwhile: Designing a sustainable and high-impact ICT intervention will always start with knowing the what, how, and why of users’ ICT habits.

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I Made a Facebook Chatbot (And You Can, Too!)

Tags: InnovationThink Piece

I’ve been excited about using chatbots in our work since Facebook’s F8 Developer conference last April, when the company announced that Messenger would begin to support them.

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What is a Facebook chatbot?

Our Digital Insights work in Indonesia, Honduras, and Palestine has shown that Facebook and FB Messenger are hugely popular in the places DAI works. In Indonesia, 77 percent of the people we interviewed said they use Facebook on their phones; in Palestine the number was 95 percent. In Honduras, 80 percent of our respondents across urban and rural areas said they are Facebook users. If DAI projects want to reach people with messages and services, we must meet people where they already are: on Facebook (and no, not exclusively and not always—if you read our Indonesia post, you’ll find out a surprising fact about which messaging app is king there (bet you can’t guess!). Failing to meet users where they are—in this case, on Facebook—when on-the-ground evidence shows it to be popular would be a major missed opportunity.

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Crowdsourced Data Collection Provides On-the-Ground Insights

Tags: Data

At the end of 2016, we published a post on the digital data collection sector. In 2017, we’re delving deeper into this growing sub-field of ICT4D with interviews, technology reviews, and guest posts. We’re kicking things off with a piece from our friends at Findyr who specialize in gathering insights from emerging markets using mobile-enabled, trained data collectors from the field. Kelsey Buchbinder is a Business Development Associate at Findyr.

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Unemployed? Stop Looking for a Job and Create One—Insights from INC Monterrey

Tags: EntrepreneurshipInnovation

Guest blogger Caity Campos is a specialist in our youth and workforce development unit. Here she reviews the recent Innovate Network Create (INC) Monterrey conference, a gathering of global entrepreneurs from a variety of disciplines.

Finally, a conference that wasn’t boring, cliché, or overly esoteric. The Innovate Network Create (INC) Monterrey, held in November was exciting, innovative, and inspiring. Lest you think I am being hyperbolic, let me share some conference highlights:

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Remote Sensing Part 4: The Everest of Satellite Conferences, SatSummit 2017

Tags: Remote Sensing Series

We reached the summit of satellite conferences this week! This is the fourth post in our remote sensing series. See part 1, part 2 and part 3.

#SatDiversity and #FatData are two hashtags I did not expect to see blaring across the screen when I attended the SatSummit conference this week. These bold declarations are something new: a compression of expression, capturing with perfect brevity the major themes of a fledgling tech space on the cusp of bringing real change almost as quickly as the terabytes of data that rain down to Earth from satellites bearing the names of these space-technology pioneers. Here’s some key takeaways from the event.

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More Data, Less Risk: Innovators Chart a Path to Financial Inclusion

Tags: InnovationDataEconomic Growth

The phrase “Catch-22” was originally coined to describe a paradoxical situation that someone is unable to escape from because of contradictory rules or regulations. Think, for example, about the recent graduate who is unable to obtain a job because he or she does not possess any previous work experience, yet cannot gain any work experience because he or she cannot get a job. Fortunately, as tends to be the case with graduates who persist, compromising expectations and demands, eventually someone takes a chance, giving them the benefit of the doubt, and chooses to invest in their potential.

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Remote Sensing Part 3: Identify Healthy Vegetation From Space

Tags: Remote Sensing SeriesData

DAI’s excitement about the upcoming SatSummit is approaching perigee levels, with the conference less than one week away! This is Part 3 of our Remote Sensing Series. In case you missed them, here’s Part 2 and Part 1.

You could live a perfectly fulfilled life while taking for granted all the colors that appear in the natural world. However, when you ask “why?”—a fascinating level of complexity is revealed, and this is especially true for the colors of nature: green forests, blue skies, red roses, golden sunsets.

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Remote Sensing Series Part 2: Landsat is the Stalwart of Satellite Imagery Platforms (and it’s Free!)

Tags: Remote Sensing SeriesData

DAI is in a stellar mood about the upcoming SatSummit in Washington, D.C. Part 1 of the remote sensing series can be read here.

Some incredible things were happening in the United States in 1972: Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me” was the No. 1 song on the radio; the first “Godfather” film was released; and NASA launched the first in a series of satellites designed to provide consistent and reliable coverage of the earth’s land cover. The platform—the Earth Resources Technology Satellite or ERTS-1—was developed in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which agreed to handle the storage, archiving, and distribution of the data products. The second satellite, eventually renamed Landsat 2, launched in 1975, operating in parallel with ERTS-1 for a few years until the original satellite was decommissioned in 1978.

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Situamos a la Ciudadanía en el Centro del Proceso de Diseño en Guatemala

Tags: GuatemalaGovernance

This post is also available in English.

A finales de 2015, el proyecto USAID Nexos Locales recibió una solicitud novedosa. Fue enviada por Carlos Alvarado Figueroa, que acababa de ser elegido alcalde de Chiantla, un municipio de 75.000 habitantes en el altiplano occidental de Guatemala. Alvarado había sido elegido por su plataforma de transparencia presupuestaria y auditoría social, y formó parte de una ola de reformadores de buena gobernabilidad que fueron elegidos después de la revelación del escándalo denominado La Línea, que envió a prisión el Ex Presidente Otto Pérez Molina y la Ex Vicepresidenta Roxana Baldetti.

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What Good Is the Internet of Things to People Who Don’t Have the Internet?

Tags: InnovationThink Piece

As I write this, the annual Consumer Electronics Show has just wrapped up in Las Vegas, having introduced an allegedly eager public to smartphone-enabled hairbrushes, Bluetooth-capable vibrating hotpants, and refrigerators that tweet when you’re running low on soy milk. This is what marketing departments call the Internet of Things (IoT): devices that are networked for sensing, control, and/or coordination. Under the stifling blanket of hype, though, new platforms, network protocols, and data repositories really are enabling applications of value, in addition to the tweeting kitchen appliances which, one hopes, will stay in Vegas.

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GeekFest 2017: Q&A with Ian Schuler, CEO of Development Seed

Tags: Geekfest 2017Data

geek fest logo

Welcome to Geekfest 2017, a series of interviews featuring ICT4D thought leaders. Our goals in launching #geekfest2017 are: to highlight the people and organizations who are pushing the field in new directions, to feature their work and show how it’s different or new, and to support the growth of the ICT4D community.

We’re kicking things off with Ian Schuler, the CEO of Development Seed, one of the lead organizers and sponsors for the upcoming SatSummit.

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Hiring ICT Staff (Or, How to Get 500 IT CVs Without Really Trying)

Tags: Economic GrowthThink Piece

Kabul, 2016. I’d been here before: a cold cup of Nescafe and stack of overly formatted CVs on the table next to me, an over-worked HR officer slow-blinking at me from across the room in subtle panic. Of the 35 CVs in the stack, culled from hundreds submitted online, only two had any mention of ICT experience—the rest were full of network engineering degrees, Oracle and Microsoft certifications, and years and years of experience managing IT networks and project systems. If I had been looking to hire IT staff, I would have been spoiled for options—but I wasn’t. I was trying to hire an ICT officer, and it was almost impossible. Just as it had been in Cambodia, Jordan, and Senegal. Why, oh, why was hiring ICT staff so hard, and what could we do about it?

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[email protected] Year in Review: Top Five Posts of 2016

Tags: Digital InsightsDataEconomic GrowthThink PieceAppathon 2016

That’s a wrap for 2016, folks. We launched this blog in February with a sense of curiosity and caution, unsure who would read it—or if it would be read at all. Since then, we’ve grown steadily to more than 2,000 page views a month, collaborated with colleagues throughout the ICT4D ecosystem to host 12 guest author posts, and had the privilege of teammate John DeRiggi being interviewed by the BBC’s program “Click,” about his post on Machine Learning in Afghanistan.

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We’re Putting Citizens at the Center of the Design Process in Guatemala

Tags: GuatemalaGovernance

Esta entrada también está disponible en español.

Back in late 2015, the Nexos Locales project in Guatemala received a novel inquiry. It was from Carlos Alvarado Figueroa, who had just been elected mayor of Chiantla (CHEE-ahn-tlah), a municipality of 75,000 in the Western Highlands, and he had an idea. Alvarado had been elected on a platform of budget transparency and social audit and was part of a wave of good governance reformers that swept into office on the heels of the Línea corruption scandal, which saw both President Otto Perez Molina and Vice President Roxana Baldetti jailed. He wanted DAI’s help to design and develop a mobile tool to give the citizens of Chiantla (Chiantlecos) better access to municipal government. In particular, he wanted to give Chiantlecos an easy, transparent view on how his government was allocating and spending money, facilitating social audit and giving citizens the ability to more easily communicate with his administration. So, the project called me, and I called the Mayor.

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Next Steps: Making Countering Violent Extremism Approaches More Rigorous

Tags: GovernanceCVE

This is a guest post by a friend and colleague of the DAI ICT Team, Ben Dubow. Ben is a partner at Omelas, a firm that works to bring together data scientists, software engineers, and counterterrorism experts to defeat violent extremism. Debuted at the annual meeting of the Nordic Council of Ministers, Safe Cities, Omelas currently has operations in Europe and the Middle East. It was co-founded by Ben, Evanna Hu, and Bjorn Ihler.

I started my career by conducting threat analyses of suspected jihadists. I’d trawl their online profiles and then use a mix of instinct and experience to decide what to include. It made sense that sharing a post from a Taliban website signaled radicalization. It made sense that following a jihadist preacher signaled the same. It made sense that liking a Facebook page for bacon lovers signaled some apprehension about fundamentalism. But making sense was the extent of the proof we had.

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Remote Sensing Series Part 1: The Foundations and Applications of Remote Sensing

Tags: DataRemote Sensing Series

This is the first in a series of posts about remote sensing. DAI is entering an orbit of excitement about the upcoming SatSummit on January 31!

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Origins of Remote Sensing

One day in 1800, German-born British citizen and musician-turned-astronomer, Sir James Herschel was doing something we’ve all found ourselves doing on lazy Sunday afternoons: He was playing around with a prism, investigating the temperature differences between the bands of colorful light that splay out in this familiar natural sequence:

roygbiv Herschel placed a thermometer to the left of the red band and found invisible infrared light.

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Mobile Data Collection: A Sector in Flux

Tags: Data

In recent years, mobile surveys and data collection capabilities have increased alongside rapidly expanding mobile phone penetration in the developing world. And with this trend, there has been a proliferation of small firms that have entered this space. At DAI, we realize that by allowing us to quickly capture hard-to-gather data and conduct surveys across our portfolio, new tools can change the way we execute development projects as well as win new business.

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Crowdsourcing Ideas—The Challenge Fund Model for Innovation

Tags: Think Piece

I apologize for using the word “innovation” in the title of this post. I know… I work in ICT4D and I’m supposed to be a champion for innovation in all its forms. The truth is, for me, the word has nearly lost all its meaning. Innovation is easily one of the most overused and least-understood words favored by businesses, academia, and yes, international development agencies. So instead of writing a post on how we can “promote innovation,” per se, I prefer to write about how we as development practitioners can use promising models to source, finance, and apply new solutions—be they digital technologies, products, or processes—to development problems based on open competition, collaboration, and evidence.

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4 Things I Learned at MIT’s TechCon

Tags: Think Piece

This past week I attended TechCon 2016, co-hosted this year by MIT and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). TechCon is the annual gathering of the Higher Education Solutions Network, a partnership between USAID and top universities to harness the academic power, passion, and curiosity of students, researchers, and faculty to solve global development challenges. Spoiler alert: it was GREAT. It’s easy to forget in the day-in, day-out of ICT4D work that “technology” has a far broader remit than the work we as ICT4D practitioners do in it. Engaging with researchers and academics conducting research far outside my normal scope awakened a sense of real and joyful curiosity I hadn’t felt in awhile. So beyond this humble reminder, and that Boston in autumn is truly glorious, here’s a few other things I learned at TechCon.

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Counting People is Hard: Biometrics can Help

Tags: DataThink Piece

This is a guest post written by Ben Mann, a development specialist at DAI with a wide range of interests. He is a policy wonk; water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) technical expert; ICT enthusiast; and general advocate for improved use of data and visualizations. Follow Ben on twitter @bhmann

One of the core functions of an effective monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system is the ability to accurately count things. Depending on your M&E strategy, you may be counting the number of schools built in a district, number of boreholes functioning in a region, or the number of microloans given to farmers in a cluster of villages. From my experience designing and operationalizing M&E plans for a range of private and bilaterally funded programs, counting people is by far the hardest and most complex to do—especially when you are trying to observe and record information on the same people over an extended time.

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Hey USAID, Want to Promote Innovation?

Tags: Think PieceInnovation

Earlier this month I had the good fortune to attend the Global Accelerator Network’s (GAN) annual Rally in Denver, Colorado. GAN includes 70 startup accelerators in 100 cities across six continents.

GAN stage.jpg GAN CEO Patrick Riley and the managing directors of startup accelerators at the GAN Summit 2016

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Should Big Data Be Open Data?

Tags: DataThink Piece

This is a guest post by Michelle Kaffenberger, Applied Research Consultant, and Bill Kedrock, Independent Consultant. The post uses Nigeria smallholder farmer data collected through the Growth Enhancement Scheme as the backdrop for a set of initial principles to guide those weighing the pros and cons of opening big data.

We propose that when considering whether big data should be made open, decision makers should apply a litmus test including at least the following three questions, and likely many others according to the specific context of the data.

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App-a-Thon 2016: Viber for Development

Tags: Appathon 2016

As we’ve ramped up our Digital Insights work over the last few months, we’ve had the opportunity to talk with people around Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East about the digital tools they use to stay in touch with each other and the world around them. These conversations have reminded us that we have to work hard to stay on top of the growing number of messaging apps on the market today, as what was popular six months ago might no longer be today. “App-a-Thon 2016” is our way of quickly immersing ourselves in different messaging apps to learn about their functionality, look, and feel. How does it work? The entire DAI ICT team signs up for a platform, and for one week, we use it to chat with each other, send images and video, and explore the quirks and features of the app.

So far, we’ve covered WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, kik, LINE, and BBM. This time around we’re checking out Viber.

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Geeks Like Us: How Academic Research Can Help us Create Better ICT Programs

Tags: Think Piece

In a not-so-distant past life, I was at the PeaceTech Lab, a spin-off from the U.S. Institute of Peace. For the most part, the Lab executes in-country technology and media projects, but one vestige of its parent organization’s think tank legacy is the Blogs & Bullets project—a research initiative done in partnership with some of the wonkiest political science and data analysis geeks from American University, George Washington University, and Stanford University. As I’ve made my transition into a full-time ‘do tank’ like DAI, it has become easy to dismiss (or forget) the somewhat esoteric pursuits of our friends in academia. But with the release last week of the latest installment in the Blogs & Bullets series, I was reminded just how important the work of the Ivory Tower is to advancing our understanding of the role of ICT in creating real world change in the places where we work.

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Have You Read the 2016 Digital GAP Act?

Tags: Think Piece

Update: Since I wrote this, Congress.gov removed the text of the bill. It’s now pasted at the bottom.

Have you read the Digital Global Access Policy (GAP) Act?

If you’re an ICT4D practitioner, you should.

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The bill was just passed in the House and is speeding toward a Senate vote. So, what’s it all about? In short, it enshrines the growth of affordable internet access as a tenet of U.S. foreign policy by promoting:

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Appified: How Social Media is Doing the Hard Work in ICT4D

Tags: Think Piece

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, in a most delightful way. Mary Poppins was on to something significant in user experience, far before that phrase even entered our lexicon. How has the sugary sweet world of social media changed the game in ICT for development (ICT4D)? More than just providing us with new channels to engage our target audiences, social media has actually taught our beneficiaries how to be a mobile audience.

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App-a-Thon 2016: BlackBerry Messenger for Development

Tags: Appathon 2016

As we’ve ramped up our Digital Insights work over the last few months, we’ve had the opportunity to talk with people around Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East about the digital tools they use to stay in touch with each other and the world around them. These conversations have reminded us that we have to work hard to stay on top of the growing number of messaging apps on the market today, as what was popular six months ago might no longer be today. “App-a-Thon 2016” is our way of quickly immersing ourselves in different messaging apps to learn about their functionality, look, and feel. How does it work? The entire DAI ICT team signs up for a platform, and for one week, we use it to chat with each other, send images and video, and explore the quirks and features of the app.

So far, we’ve covered WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, kik, and LINE. Up to bat this week is BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).

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From Data to Knowledge: Applying Schema Agnostic Systems Modeling to Development Challenges

Tags: Think PieceData

By now the much-vaunted “Big Data Revolution” that technologists have endlessly touted is in full swing. Almost all industrial and economic sectors are actively recognizing and harnessing the potential of digital data. International development is no different, as an ever-increasing number of programs are being conceived with data for decision-making as a central pillar to improve intervention strategy, activity coordination, and impact measurement.

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Building Cluster Maps with the AidData API

Tags: Think PieceData

AidData is an awesome organization. It has built a lightning-fast application program interface (API) that exposes a massive amount of structured data about aid finance, projects, locations, and sources of funding. More broadly—and quoted from its Twitter bio—AidData, a research and innovation lab at the College of William & Mary, is “providing tools and services to make development finance more transparent and effective.” Its API is one incredible step toward that admirable goal.

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App-a-Thon 2016: LINE for Development

Tags: Appathon 2016

As we’ve ramped up our Digital Insights work over the last few months, we’ve had the opportunity to talk with people around Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East about the digital tools they use to stay in touch with each other and the world around them. These conversations have reminded us that we have to work hard to stay on top of the growing number of messaging apps on the market today, as what was popular six months ago might no longer be today. “App-a-Thon 2016” is our way of quickly immersing ourselves in different messaging apps to learn about their functionality, look and feel. How does it work? The entire DAI ICT team signs up for a platform, and for one week, we use it to chat with each other, send images and video, and explore the quirks and features of the app.

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ICT in the Agricultural Sector: Business Concepts from Ghanaian Youth

Tags: AgricultureSub-Saharan AfricaEconomic GrowthInnovation

Some of you may recall my post from May when I wrote about the Kosmos Innovation Center (KIC) and the exciting work it’s doing to bring young tech-savvy entrepreneurs into the agricultural sector in Ghana. Here’s a quick update and brief summary of the kinds of ideas that have emerged from the project so far.

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How Dashboards are like Olympians

Tags: Data

The Olympic Games in Rio are over! It’s too bad. We all had fun watching the world’s greatest athletes come together to compete. At these Olympic Games we saw several displays of dominance from competitors such as Usain Bolt, Katie Ledecky, and Michael Phelps. Watching their races, it struck me how easy they made it look, with Bolt laughing in his prelims, Ledecky winning by 11 seconds, and Phelps winning by over a body length in a race that was only two laps in the pool.

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App-a-Thon 2016: Kik for Development

Tags: Appathon 2016

As we’ve ramped up our Digital Insights work over the last few months, we’ve had the opportunity to talk with people around Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East about the digital tools they use to stay in touch with each other and the world around them. These conversations have reminded us that we have to work hard to stay on top of the growing number of messaging apps on the market today, as what was popular six months ago might no longer be today. “App-a-Thon 2016” is our way of quickly immersing ourselves in different messaging apps to learn about their functionality, look, and feel. How does it work? The entire DAI ICT team signs up for a platform, and for one week, we use it to chat with each other, send images and video, and explore the quirks and features of the app.

So far, we’ve covered WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram. This week kik takes center stage.

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A Call for Action: Leaving Behind “One App at a Time” Approaches

Tags: Think Piece

It’s become all but banal to observe that information and communications technology (ICT) has made our world increasingly interconnected and data-rich. But, for some reason, the role of ICT practitioners in international development hasn’t evolved to reflect this shift. ICT teams, like other “functional” (as opposed to regional) experts, are incentivized to develop niche expertise and subject matter knowledge—sometimes at the expense of improved development programming.

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App-a-Thon 2016: Telegram for Development

Tags: Appathon 2016

As we’ve ramped up our Digital Insights work over the last few months, we’ve had the opportunity to talk with people around Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East about the digital tools they use to stay in touch with each other and the world around them. These conversations have reminded us that we have to work hard to stay on top of the growing number of messaging apps on the market today, as what was popular six months ago might no longer be today. “App-a-Thon 2016” is our way of quickly immersing ourselves in different messaging apps to learn about their functionality, look, and feel. How does it work? The entire DAI ICT team signs up for a platform, and for one week, we use it to chat with each other, send images and video, and explore the quirks and features of the app.

So far, we’ve covered WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. This time, we bring you Telegram, WhatsApp’s bolder, more extroverted cousin.

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App-a-Thon 2016: Facebook Messenger for Development

Tags: Appathon 2016

As we’ve ramped up our Digital Insights work over the last few months, we’ve had the opportunity to talk with people around Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East about the digital tools they use to stay in touch with each other and the world around them. These conversations have reminded us that we have to work hard to stay on top of the growing number of messaging apps on the market today, as what was popular six months ago might no longer be today. “App-a-Thon 2016” is our way of quickly immersing ourselves in different messaging apps to learn about their functionality, look, and feel. How does it work? The entire DAI ICT team signs up for a platform, and for one week, we use it to chat with each other, send images and video, and explore the quirks and features of the app.

Last time we covered WhatsApp. This week, we’re talking about another Facebook property: Messenger.

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Can Big Data Build Resilient Communities?

Tags: HealthData

Guest post by Max Baiden, Project Manager on the Climate & Environment, Infrastructure and Livelihoods Professional Evidence Applied Knowledge Services Framework in DAI’s UK office, with contributors from Data-Pop Alliance

Before my time at DAI, I spent several months in India, working for a local nongovernmental organization on multidimensional poverty reduction projects. One of the projects had me walking through a tsunami-affected village on the southeastern coast of India. Witnessing first-hand how damaging hydrometerological events can be really galvanized my desire to work in the sector. I talked to local fisherman about how their boats were destroyed and how they had to leave their village behind in the impending wake of the storm. They despaired at the lack of early warning information to help them prepare for and understand the effects of such a disaster.

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Top 5 Civic Tech Concepts and Ideas from PDF 2016

Tags: Governance

The annual Personal Democracy Forum (PDF) might best be described as “civic tech prom.” It’s that once-a-year time when civic tech enthusiasts put on their good shoes, stand up in front of their peers, and show how they’re using new technology for public good. What qualifies as civic tech in this crowd? If you’re starting discourse about important public issues, monitoring government expenditures, holding politicians accountable for campaign promises, drafting candidates to run for office, and using a mobile phone, social media, or remote sensing to do it, you would fit right in at PDF.

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Visualizing Hierarchical Data: USAID’s $8.5 Billion Global Health Initiative

Tags: HealthData

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Budget data is notoriously difficult to analyze. The volume of data can be high, the long tables are unwieldy, and the structures are almost always multilayered, making it difficult to visualize. But with some of the advanced interactive visualization tools we use at DAI, we can analyze and present even complex data more clearly.

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WhatsApp for Development: the Launch of App-a-Thon 2016

Tags: Appathon 2016

As we’ve ramped up our Digital Insights work over the last few months, we’ve had the opportunity to talk with people around the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, and Africa about the digital tools they use to stay in touch with each other and the world around them. These conversations have reminded us that we have to work hard to stay on top of the growing number of messaging apps on the market today, as what was popular six months ago might no longer be today. “App-a-Thon 2016” is our way of quickly immersing ourselves in different messaging apps to learn about their functionality, look and feel. How does it work? The entire DAI ICT team signs up for a platform, and for one week, we use it to chat with each other, send images and video, and explore the quirks and features of the app.

This week, we begin with one of the most popular – WhatsApp.

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Online Petitions and the Future of Citizen-driven Advocacy: A Conversation with Avijit Michael

Tags: Governance

Meet Avijit Michael, the former Global Development Director for Change.org who recently moved to Jhatkaa.org, a tech nonprofit focused on digital advocacy in his home country of India. Avijit wears many hats—software designer, artist, environmentalist, campaigner for progressive causes, and musician. After almost a decade in the world of digital activism, he gives us his thoughts on the state of the field.

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Measuring Mobile Connectivity: GSMA Launches New Analytical Tool

Tags: Economic GrowthData

The end of 2015 saw 3.2 billion people connected to the internet. With rates continuing to rise steadily, people are plugging into online networks that foster social and economic development, empowering them with new tools for more effective communication and more efficient economic activity. As impressive as these figures are though, 4 billion people remain offline, without access to these opportunities. Bridging the digital divide is of paramount importance if the world’s most disadvantaged populations are to participate in the increasingly connected economy, and because people are increasingly turning to mobile phones as their primary gateway to the mobile networks represent the linchpin to inclusive, ICT-enabled development.

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Machine Learning Will Help Development Projects Achieve Scale

Tags: Think PieceAfghanistanData

iStock_15693853_SMALL.jpg The terms “machine learning” and “artificial intelligence” (AI) conjure up feelings that are equal parts fear and fascination. Why is that? Until recently, the prospect of a piece of software making human-like decisions resided safely in the far-fetched expectations of 1960s-era computer scientists or the plot lines of science fiction novels. Today, however, after decades of unmet expectations, we finally have AI systems that are beginning to influence our lives in tangible ways. Voice recognition systems like Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s Siri, and once-unimaginable fantasies like self-driving cars, are on the market for consumers, with more exciting life-like systems to come. We have also seen a few early signs of robotic autonomy that makes us feel uneasy, like the Russian robot that learned how to escape the lab!

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Ready for Takeoff: Video Games in International Development

Tags: Think Piece

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From Gaming to Development Impact

I was 6 when my dad brought home our first computer. It was an IBM 386. At the time, it was space-age technology. By today’s standards it’s the musical equivalent of banging two rocks together. I imagine my dad expected my older brother and me to learn the interface and how to type. Instead, within weeks we were mowing down Nazis in Wolfenstein 3D and engineering some pretty spectacular crashes in in Stunts. Needless to say, I was hooked.

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Afghanistan Produces Highly Skilled Software Engineers

Tags: AfghanistanEconomic Growth

Great products are built close to the user. It is design principle No. 1. It is what lets you deploy early and often, fail fast, learn and iterate. It is also why it is impossible to export software across an ocean and expect it to work well for users with whom you have little interaction or empathy. But here’s the thing: businesses and local governments in poor countries need great software to achieve inclusion, transparency, efficiency, and revenue.

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Digital Insights Palestine: E-Governance Readiness

Tags: Digital InsightsPalestineGovernance

In June I traveled to the West Bank to investigate aspects of Palestinian readiness for local electronic governance (e-gov) systems. As part of an attempt to explore potential improvements in municipal service delivery and citizen engagement, I conducted citizen interviews to help us better understand how Palestinians receive and share information using technology, and how they interact with local municipalities.

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Notes from the Field: Makerspaces a Great Solution for Tanzanian Youth to Realize Dreams

Tags: InnovationSub-Saharan Africa

Meet Jesse, a university student and entrepreneur. Jesse grew up in Leguruki village in Meru District in Northern Tanzania where the majority of people farm avocados, including Jesse’s family members. Despite good markets for avocado, 98 percent of Leguruki avocados do not make it to the market; their thin skins make them susceptible to rot or damage during transport along Meru’s bumpy, unpaved roads.

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ICT4Ag: Smart Thoughts from USAID on the Partnership Gap

Tags: AgricultureThink Piece

After last week’s ICT4Ag conference, there was one panel discussion that really stuck in mind, and in particular one speaker: USAID’s Chris Burns. This is not some fawning post batting eyelashes at the donor, but a true appreciation for the content of what Chris said and his eloquence in getting at what I see as really the heart of the matter in any ICT4D work: smart partnerships that leverage comparative advantages.

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Los Mejores 3 Conceptos Para Enfrentar el Cambio Climatico de NASA Space Apps Bogotá

Tags: ColombiaEnvironment & EnergyInnovation

¿Cuál de las carreteras de Colombia tiene el mayor riesgo de inundación? ¿Existe una relación causal entre el cambio climático, el aumento de la contaminación del aire, y la mala salud entre los colombianos? ¿Cómo pueden los drones ayudarnos a mitigar los efectos del cambio climático? Estas son algunas de las grandes preguntas a las que los equipos de jóvenes buscaron respuestas y soluciones en el 2016 NASA Space Apps Challenge en Bogotá.

This post is also available in English.

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5 (and 1/2) Things We Learned from Teaching the Digital Principles

Tags: Digital Principles

Over the last couple of years, DAI has developed the “ICT Corps”—a series of in-house training sessions for our teams around the world on how to integrate ICT into development projects, from using mobile tools to engage communities to using ICT-enabled solutions to gather data for decision-making. One of these modules is devoted to teaching the nine Principles for Digital Development. DAI has endorsed the principles and regularly uses them to guide technology design, but in using them as a training tool, we learned a thing or five.

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Top 3 Climate Change Concepts from NASA Space Apps Challenge Bogotá

Tags: ColombiaInnovationEnvironment & Energy

Which of Colombia’s highways faces the greatest risk of flood? Is there a causal link between changing climate conditions, increased air pollution, and poor health among Colombians? How can drones help us mitigate the effects of climate change? These are a few of the big questions that teams of young people confronted at the 2016 NASA Space Apps Challenge in Bogotá.

Esta entrada también está disponible en español.

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Have We Hit a Tech Tipping Point? Observations from Cambodia

Tags: CambodiaThink Piece

Longstanding wisdom in the ICT4D community dictates that you need to conduct a hard sales job to convince more traditional communities and/or stakeholders to use ICT services. My current research in Cambodia is challenging this notion.

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Digital Insights Indonesia Part 2: Where WhatsApp is Just Another BlackBerry Messenger Clone

Tags: IndonesiaDigital Insights

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Last time, in Digital Insights Indonesia: Mobiles & Workforce Development, I described the Digital Insights research I recently conducted in Indonesia. To recap: we interviewed 107 Indonesian youth between the ages of 16 and 24, all from marginalized neighborhoods. Our goal was to understand how they receive and share information, what kind of mobile technologies they use, and which messaging and social media apps they prefer. For a full description and more context, please see that post.

This time, it’s straight to the insights.

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Digital Insights Indonesia Part 1: Mobiles & Workforce Development

Tags: Digital InsightsIndonesia

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Stepping through a narrow alley way, under low-slung balconies and sagging clotheslines, the landscape opens up and what had appeared to be an open field in the middle of a megacity now comes in to view. Prumpung Public Cemetery on a Saturday morning is most certainly the place to be; snack hawkers shout as they amble along the rows of horseshoe shaped headstones, groups of friends congregate alongside tea stands, and families gather around the graves of aunts and uncles. Such was my introduction to the East Jakarta neighborhood of Cipinang Besar Utara, where I would soon be playing Simon Says, dancing, and beatboxing with the 60 Indonesian youth who we interviewed about their media and technology habits.

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Móviles en América Central: Digital Insights Honduras, Parte 2

Tags: Digital InsightsHonduras

HondurasCI2.jpg El autor entrevistando a un joven en las montañas de La Paz

This post is also available in English.

Decisiones Sobre los Medios Sociales y Mensajería Móvil

Hace poco escribí sobre mi experiencia entrevistando a jóvenes en riesgo en Honduras, sobre sus teléfonos móviles y cómo los utilizan. Si no lo vió, atrápelo aquí: Los móviles en América Central: Digital Insights Honduras, Parte 1

La mensajería móvil y las redes sociales son muy populares entre los jóvenes de Honduras. Más del 70% de los jóvenes en riesgo en Honduras que hemos entrevistado tenían teléfonos inteligentes, y casi cada uno de los que tenían teléfonos inteligentes utiliza WhatsApp. Facebook es aún más omnipresente. El mensaje es el siguiente: cualquier persona–desde el gobierno de Honduras hasta los donantes como USAID y las organizaciones de la implementación–que quiera trabajar con los jóvenes Hondureños deben buscarlos en sus plataformas nativas de comunicación. En estos días eso significa en las aplicaciones de medios sociales y mensajería.

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Móviles en América Central: Digital Insights Honduras, Parte 1

Tags: Digital InsightsHonduras

HondurasCI.jpg El autor en una cocina en San Jose Ulloa, Tegucigalpa

This post is also available in English.

Chamelecón

Para el observador casual, Chamelecón se parece a cualquier barrio marginal de América Central: tiendas pintadas de color pastel flanquean su calle principal, canalizando un flujo incesante de peatones, carros, y motocicletas. Pero detrás de esta fachada cotidiana, los residentes de Chamelecón se enfrentan a algunos grandes retos: pobreza, desempleo, migración, desintegración familiar, infiltración de pandillas, la violencia y la impunidad. Mientras esta combinación de factores de riesgo es común en los barrios marginales en América Central, en las comunidades de la periferia de San Pedro Sula como Chamelecón, coinciden con fuerza. Cada factor alimenta los demás y aumenta los riesgos que los residentes enfrentan a diario.

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Injecting Ghana’s Ag Sector with Youth-led ICT Energy

Tags: AgricultureInnovationSub-Saharan AfricaEconomic Growth

How do you get city kids interested in agriculture? It’s one of the first questions I was asked when I joined DAI, and as a confirmed urbanite, I must admit it’s not a discussion I expected to have. The topic came up in a meeting with my colleagues in DAI’s Energy & Resources Group, who have been working over the last year with the Kosmos Innovation Center (KIC) in Accra, Ghana. The KIC, the flagship corporate social investment effort by Kosmos Energy, is exploring creative ways to address development challenges in Ghana, and in its first year, it has set its sights on boosting Ghana’s agricultural sector.

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Detecting Patterns in Survey Data with Data Visualization

Tags: Digital InsightsHondurasData

We love exploratory data analysis here at DAI and today we are going to delve into some of the survey data from my colleague Adam’s recent Digital Insights Research in Honduras to see if we can use data visualization to find social media and mobile super users. Spoiler: they exist (and in surprising places!)

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6 Amazing Examples Proving that the Medical Technology Transformation is Upon Us

Tags: HealthInnovation

Because who needs pharmaceutical drugs when you can just implant a shape-memory polymer with an embedded circuit to send neuro-signals to your faulty organs?

1) A Direct Line to Your Liver

Bioelectronics is a field poised to change medicine. How do they work? Well, all you have to do is print a nano-scale electronic circuit onto a polymer material that is human-tissue-like enough that your body won’t trigger its natural defense mechanism of rejecting all foreign objects. Then you have to take the neuro-signal patterns from the brain and program the circuits to mimic those neuro-signals. Then, adhere the polymer directly to the malfunctioning tissue and it will deliver brain-like signals straight to the organ. That silly broken liver won’t know the difference!

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Mobiles in Central America: Digital Insights Honduras, Part 2

Tags: Digital InsightsLatin America and the Caribbean

HondurasCI2.jpg The author interviews a youth in the mountains above La Paz

Esta entrada también está disponible en español.

Social Media and Messaging Choices

Recently I wrote about my experience interviewing at-risk youth* in Honduras about their mobile phones and how they use them. If you missed that blog, catch it here: Mobiles in Central America: Digital Insights Honduras, Part 1 . Mobile messaging and social media are incredibly popular among Honduran youth. More than 70 percent of the at-risk young people in Honduras who we interviewed had smartphones, and almost every single one who had a smartphone used WhatsApp. Facebook is even more ubiquitous. The message is this: anyone—from the Honduran government to development organizations like USAID and implementing organizations—who wants to engage with Honduran young people must meet them on their native platforms of communication. These days that means social media and messaging apps.

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Digitizing Education Fairs to Reach South Asian Young People at Scale

Tags: EducationEuropean UnionAsia and the Pacific

This is a guest post by Cari Wood, Project Manager in DAI’s Europe office, and the Public Diplomacy and Outreach Project in India and SAARC team

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The Public Diplomacy and Outreach Project in India and SAARC is a European Union (EU)-funded project that DAI has been implementing since December 2013, with Marco Corsi as team leader. In line with the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy strategy in Asia, this project aims to deepen the political, economic, and cultural relationships between the EU and India and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations. It works to promote EU visibility by organising various events, supporting local cultural organisations, and setting up active ICT platforms and new means of communications.

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Climate Change in Colombia: Hack the Problem

Tags: EntrepreneurshipLatin America and the CaribbeanEnvironment & Energy

Colombia’s 2015 floods affected some 18,000 people. They destroyed homes and bridges, caused the suspension of water and sanitation services, and killed at least 83 people. The loss of life and millions of dollars in damage have re-emphasized the importance of confronting the effects of climate change in Colombia.

DAI is working with the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, its on-campus technology and innovation hub, Centro Ático, and the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT) in Cali to harness the entrepreneurial power of young Colombians to tackle climate change with the aid of NASA satellite data, mobile phones, and their own ingenuity.

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Mobiles in Central America: Digital Insights Honduras, Part 1

Tags: Digital InsightsLatin America and the Caribbean

HondurasCI.jpg The author in a kitchen in San Jose Ulloa, Tegucigalpa

Esta entrada también está disponible en español.

To the casual observer, Chamelecón looks like any other marginalized Central American neighborhood: low-slung, pastel-colored shops line its main road, channeling a ceaseless flow of pedestrians, produce carts, motorcycles, and cars. Yet behind this mundane facade, the residents of Chamalecón face some significant challenges: poverty, unemployment, migration, family disintegration, gang infiltration, violence, and impunity. While this combination of risk factors is common in at-risk* neighborhoods around Central America, in communities on the periphery of San Pedro Sula such as Chamalecón, they coincide with acute force—each factor feeding off the rest and exacerbating the daily risks that residents face.

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SXSW: Tech Trends 2016

Tags: Innovation

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We hear it all the time: Technology is constantly and rapidly changing. By the time you’ve familiarized yourself with the coolest new app, gadget, or gizmo, there is a new and better one. The sheer speed with which innovations pop up and change market landscapes can be daunting for even the professional technologist. We attended this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) wanting to know: what new technology will impact the international development sector, and how can we leverage those trends in our work. We also wanted to check out the cool, quirky, and downright bizarre things tech innovators have been developing in the past year. You never know which app might be the next global phenomenon!

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For the Love of Facebook: Digital Insights from Jordan

Tags: Digital InsightsJordan

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Young people are adopting new technology faster and smarter than the general population. We know this anecdotally and witness it in our daily lives as we interact with youths in our communities. But what does this mean for development, and how do we harness it our youth-focused programming? Some new learnings from Jordan provide guidance on how to make the most of ICT for the mobile-first generation.

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Engaging the Private Sector: Lessons from Digital Health

Tags: KenyaHealth

In February 2016, I attended the The State of Digital Health Innovations: Accelerating Impact at Scale conference in Nairobi. Co-hosted by the UN Foundation, the WHO’s Human Reproduction Program, and Open Capital, the conference aimed to not only give participants a detailed understanding of where digital health stands today, but also to brainstorm how to expand the scale and sustainability of these tools.

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ICT for Democracy? A Review of NDI’s DemTools

Tags: Product reviewGovernance

Democracy activists, party workers, and community organizers don’t get into the hard work of political mobilization to sit in front of a computer all day. Their work—and their livelihood—is based in the field. But things are changing. As with many other sectors, the proliferation of technology means that these professionals increasingly encounter, and are forced to work with, technology on a daily basis. In fact, ignoring new communication technologies represents a missed opportunity for both politicians and citizen groups to effectively engage in the process of political reform.

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Innovation and Entrepreneurship in El Salvador

Tags: InnovationEl Salvador

A recent visit to El Salvador to help DAI launch the new USAID Employment Training Project made it clear that El Salvador’s budding technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship community is poised and ready to help solve the country’s youth unemployment problems. Below are brief bios of five rockstars of the Salvadoran scene who I was lucky enough to meet while there. Please email us ([email protected]) if you would like an introduction!

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Data Mining and the Human Development Index

Tags: DataHealth

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We love data mining at DAI and today we are going to mine a data set from the United Nations (UN). We are going to do so by first working through an illustrative four-wheeled example.

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Code Weekend: Locally Developed Apps Aim to Fight Street Harassment

Tags: InnovationGovernanceEastern Europe and Central Asia

In February, I wrote a piece about Code Weekend, a tech-for-social-good organization based in Kabul. Here’s an exciting update: last month, it launched the first Code Women Challenge in Afghanistan, aimed at creating smartphone apps to counter the harassment that women face in the streets. Nine teams submitted concepts, and two tied for first place in the competition.

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Defeated by the Digital Divide? Invest in Inclusion

Tags: CambodiaInnovation

This is a guest post by Kate Heuisler, Chief of Party, USAID Development Innovations Cambodia

The digital divide is a buzz phrase that is easy to cite (especially around International Women’s Day!), but considerably harder to address with tangible plans. Quotas? Women-focused events? Round phones? As development practitioners look for the easy answers, we here at Development Innovations Cambodia are pushing back: there isn’t one. Rather than one-off events, we focus on the quality of programming, improving access to digital education, tools and skills, and showing young Cambodians that jobs and careers in tech are viable options for every interested Cambodian, not just young men.

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Civil Society the Hard(ware) Way: Maker Lab Experiences in Cambodia

Tags: InnovationGovernanceAsia and the Pacific

This is a guest post by Rob Ryan-Silva, Director, DAI Maker Lab

We started the Maker Lab about a year ago to introduce a promising set of tools and approaches emerging from the maker movement to the developing world. These rapidly evolving and improving tools empower non-specialists to design electronic and mechanical devices, and to build them in quantities that are not economically viable under the traditional mass production model, upending some of the long-standing constraints around traditional manufacturing that have hindered developing countries’ access to transformative technologies.

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Sowing the Seeds of a Tech-for-Social-Good Ecosystem in Afghanistan

Tags: AfghanistanEconomic Growth

In November 2015, I spent two weeks in Kabul, Afghanistan, working with DAI’s Women in Economy (WIE) project, funded under the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Promote program. One of the WIE’s primary objectives is to help young, educated Afghan women find jobs and move ahead in their careers. My main focus was to explore how WIE could (a) integrate technology tools into their work, and (b) engage with local technology partners.

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Digital Insights Afghanistan: How Young Women are Using Tech

Tags: Digital InsightsAfghanistan

In November 2015, I spent two weeks in Kabul, Afghanistan, working with DAI’s Women in Economy (WIE) project, funded by USAID’s Promote program. One of WIE’s primary objectives is to help young, educated Afghan women find jobs and move up in their careers. My main focus was to explore how WIE could (a) integrate technology tools into its work, and (b) engage with local technology partners. This is one of two blog posts about my time there. This post is also part of a larger set of Digital Insights that DAI’s ICT team collects from various developing countries.

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Innovation Into Action Challenge

Tags: Innovation

Is your startup prototyping a new tool that might help shape a more livable world? Has your company developed a novel way to tackle age-old problems in international development?

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DAI and a group of partners have come together to launch the “Innovation into Action Challenge,” and we’re looking for people like you!

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Addressing the Issue: How to Deliver on Physical Addresses for the Poor

Tags: EntrepreneurshipEconomic Growth

Did you know that 4 billion people the world over make do every day without a physical address? Consider the last time you opened a bank account or applied for a loan—you were probably asked for a home address to verify your identity. Imagine calling an ambulance in an emergency situation and trying to explain where you were if your street had no name and your home had no number. How would you register to vote? How would you get supplies to and from your office?

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Free Basics and the Golden Rule

Tags: Think Piece

Plenty of pixelated ink has already been spilt over Facebook’s Internet.org and its latest avatar, Free Basics. For net neutrality activists, especially in India, these kinds of zero-rated services are inherently insidious. For others, objections to Free Basics are merely based on knee-jerk anti-Facebook prejudice—not honest, fact-based reflection. Before I wade into the argument, indulge me while I make a short—but relevant—digression.

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Open Data! Parcel Boundaries of Northern Afghanistan

Tags: AfghanistanData

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The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded RAMP UP North’s objective was to strengthen municipal governments in the northern part of Afghanistan. The principal component of this effort involved using a land management system to help government officials provide better services for their municipalities. The data presented here is the output of the geographic information system (GIS) analysts’ work to demarcate the boundaries of every parcel of property in the municipalities.

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Digital Insights El Salvador: Mobile Adoption

Tags: Digital InsightsEl Salvador

In October 2015, I was in El Salvador to help DAI launch the new U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Employment Training Project, which works to link at-risk Salvadoran youth to educational and employment opportunities, foster social inclusion, and reduce the space for gangs to influence and recruit young people. While I was there, I made a point to get a sense of the role mobile phones play in young peoples’ lives: do most youth have mobile phones? If so, are they smartphones or basic phones? Which apps do they use? This is the first of two blog posts I’m writing about my time in El Salvador. Find the second post here: Innovation and Entrepreneurship in El Salvador. This post is also part of a larger set of Digital Insights that DAI’s ICT team collects from various developing countries. You can find them here.

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