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Making Lives Easier, One Drop at a Time

Jason Kohn

By Jason Kohn, Contributing Columnist

We often think of technology in terms of flashy gadgets and slick new applications. But the technology with the biggest impact is often more prosaic. It’s about using straightforward tools to solve basic problems that make people’s lives better.

One of the best examples I’ve seen of this recently is NextDrop, out of Hubli in the state of Karnataka, India. NextDrop is attacking a problem that affects millions of people in India and in much of the developing world: unpredictable and unreliable water supply.

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Three Years Post-Quake, Emergency Channels Still Vital Resource

Neelley Hicks, UMCBy Neelley Hicks, Guest Columnist

Near the epicenter of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti, less than three months after it occurred, Clif Guy of Church of the Resurrection (COR) encountered a unique challenge: how to build a communications infrastructure so what was happening on the ground could be conveyed to incoming relief teams and others who had invested themselves in the Petit Goave community.

As director of IT at COR, Guy was used to technical challenges – but not of this scale. Spotty electricity and lack of Internet access in an area that had just suffered its worst natural disaster presented issues like never before. (Read how Clif used Google Earth to engineer a network to connect Haiti’s most needed areas.) Read More »

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How Community Technology Centers are Aiding the Recovery in Haiti

Angeline, 12, works in the computer lab at the Thomas Food Project in Thomas, Haiti.

Angeline, 12, works in the computer lab at the Thomas Food Project in Thomas, Haiti. She said she wants to be able to write and research because there are a lot of things she wants to know.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting  Neelley Hicks of United Methodist Communications. I was looking for people who work at the intersection of technology and education in developing regions. Her energy, compassion and dedication to this work is quite inspiring. As it turns out, the UMC team was  in Haiti this week and I wanted to provide a brief update of their trip.

The team arrived on Monday and traveled to Thomas, LeVegue, Mizak and Petit Goave through the week. Their objectives were to assess and report on how new technology is changing lives. This is an anniversary trip where they will check in on last year’s programs, and start new ones. The team posted a great summary of this week’s work on their website.

“These centers give people who are otherwise off-the-grid access to information through the Internet that can help them live more productive and economically viable lives,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. “This is a key tool for the church to use for human empowerment.”

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Rewriting the Rules for Public Schools

Jason KohnBy Jason Kohn, Contributing Columnist

As a parent of two elementary-age daughters, I’ve been very happy with my kids’ public school experience. Nevertheless, I’m sure if their teachers could launch a new school with a completely blank slate, there are plenty of things they would do differently.

Well, one group of charter schools called Carpe Diem is actually doing this, rebuilding the classroom from the ground up. Check out this video highlighting a Carpe Diem school in Yuma, Arizona to get a sense of just how different – and interesting – this technology-driven education. Read More »

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Medic Mobile: Powerful Tools for Local Health Workers

Jason Kohn

By Jason Kohn, Contributing Columnist

I’ve been writing about mobile services in developing countries, and mHealth in particular, for a while now. But recently I had my first opportunity to speak to someone on the ground making it happen: Maeghan Orton of Medic Mobile.

Medic Mobile has a unique model. The company doesn’t focus on one specific mHealth application. Rather, it provides a mobile software and technology platform for putting mHealth tools in the hands of community health workers (CHWs), and lets organizations find innovative ways to use them.

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