February 27, 2008 By News Report
Mobile technology organization kiwanja.net has announced the winners of nGOmobile, a competition aimed at encouraging grassroots non-profits in the developing world think about how they could benefit from text messaging in their work.
Text messaging has proved itself to be remarkably versatile, providing market prices to farmers and fishermen, distributing health information, allowing the reporting of human rights abuses and promoting increased citizen participation in government. While the list may be long, not everyone has been able to reap the benefits.
The inaugural nGOmobile competition ran for three months from October 2007, and was aimed exclusively at grassroots non-profit Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working for positive social and environmental change.
"Behind the scenes, these often unsung heroes of the NGO community battle against the daily realities of life in developing countries, where it can take all day to fulfill the simplest task" said Ken Banks, Founder of kiwanja.net. "These people don't lack passion and commitment, they lack tools and resources" said Banks.
Grassroots NGOs around the world were invited to submit short project ideas explaining how greater access to mobile technology -- and SMS text messaging in particular -- would benefit them and their work.
The top four entries, selected by a panel of distinguished judges, are being awarded a brand new Hewlett Packard laptop computer, two Nokia mobile phones, a GSM modem, kiwanja.net's own entry-level text messaging platform -- FrontlineSMS -- and a cash prize of $1,000.
The winning projects, selected from a pool of over seventy entries, come from Kenya, Uganda, Mexico and Azerbaijan.
According to Bill Thompson, a member of the Judging Panel, "Mobility has clearly evolved into a force for social change, and the incredible array of entries showed how far the tools and thinking in the space have progressed. But beyond the tools themselves and the functionality they enable, we were struck but the humanity of the whole process - the passionate hope, the depth of conviction and the sheer resolve to do good all our entrants showed. Now the winners get the tools to bring their visions to life over the course of this year, and we look forward to their success, and sharing their stories to inspire next year's entrants!"
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.