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Crowdsourcing Bridges Generation Gap in Rural Africa

By Molly Mattessich, Guest Columnist

We all know about crowdsourcing where ideas are solicited to launch new products, or suggest solutions to problems. In a recent interview with Molly Mattessich of National Peace Corp Association, she told me about a contest called Young Farmers Idea.  Molly is part of our guest blogging program focused on identifying creative uses of various telecom services as referenced in our VNI Service Adoption research.

Molly had previously written a blog about the use of mobile applications in rural Africa, so I knew she would have an atypical experience to share with us. The VNI Service Adoption research shows that for Middle East & Africa, the use of consumer mobile devices will grow from 906 million to 1.3 billion by 2016. Africa is now the second largest mobile phone market in the world.

Solving Local Problems with Local Ideas

Crowdsourcing ideas from members of local communities is not limited by economic and geographic boundaries. The objective of the Young Farmers Idea program is to provide local solutions to local problems. Using technology connected better with Generation Y who tended to migrate to the cities and not as interested in farming. It’s this younger generation who will lead the way to a more sustainable future. Read More »

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Mobile Micro-Insurance within Developing Nations

By Jason Kohn, Contributing Columnist

When we think of cutting-edge technology, we tend to imagine likely applications in the most advanced markets. But today, mobile communication is leveling the playing field for innovation, to the point where we can find some of the most interesting technology innovations happening in the developing world.

The introduction of wireless connectivity into rural and low-income communities with unique needs is creating all sorts of fascinating new applications. Case in point: mobile micro-insurance.

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U.S. Broadband Deployment: Where the FCC Should Focus

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

At a time in the United States when political opinions seem to fly to the extremes, with no middle ground, it’s no surprise that the FCC’s recent report on broadband deployment evokes a similarly polarized reaction.

Of the five commissioners who authored the report, three (including chairman Julius Genachowski) seem to believe that 95% penetration of fixed broadband by any technology (see graphic) is cause for alarm, citing the lack of broadband in rural areas and tribal lands. Two of the three commissioners filed dissents to the conclusions of the report.

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Winners of the Cisco BIG Awards 2012

Seven months after launching the Cisco BIG Awards 2012: 300+ entries; 13 semi-finalists and 6 finalists later, we finally announced the winners at Cisco House last Wednesday.

A momentous occasion for our British Innovation Gateway initiative, the winners were announced following a live Dragon’s Den style pitch by all six BIG Award finalists.

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The Confessions of a Destruction Engineer

By Steven Shepard, Contributing Columnist

I sat on a plane the other day with Walter Axe, 99 years old and a happily-retired former telephone company engineer, on the way to see his newest great-granddaughter. During the three-hour flight, Walter regaled me with stories of his life in the Bell System.

He joined the company in 1931, fresh out of the Army. He dug ditches, put up poles (often using teams of horses), ran wire, worked in the switch room, and ultimately ended up in Illinois, where he found himself in, as he describes it, “the best job in the world.” Intrigued, I asked what the job was.

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