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Cell Phone Information Mapping

How to harness the potential of mobile phones to crowdsource data collection

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
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1. WASH project funded by USAID and CISCO Foundation:

"The WASH SMS Project is harnessing the potential of mobile phones and internet technology to create a highly accessible communication and data tracking system that develops crowd-sourced data in the form of maps and data sets to improve water and sanitation services for the urban poor.

The goal of the project is to leverage ubiquitous technology to increase the exchange, collection and monitoring of information among communities, water and sanitation service providers, and government, in order to improve services for the urban poor in developing country cities.

(...) The first pilot of the WASH SMS system is currently in progress in Malang (East Java Province) and Makassar (South Sulawesi Province), Indonesia."

This project takes a system perspective as it engages multiple stakeholders and make issues "visible":

"By enabling information about water and sanitation problems to flow among communities, governmental entities, and service providers, this platform will support rapid, informed decision-making on acute and chronic water problems as well as make the inequities of access to WASH services ‘visible’ to planning agencies and utilities. "

How? "Using SMS, email, or the web, citizens and residents can remotely report conditions such as poor water quality and sewage backflow, register lack of infrastructure to aid in network expansion, and view information on the status of service provision and problem resolution."

2. Ushahidi


The Internet platform helps bring together news of disaster and deal with crises. Volunteers from the crowd send information to the platform about crisis situations such as earthquakes, oil pollution, political unrest, etc. using multiple channels including email, SMS or Twitter. Ushahidi verifies the information and then visualizes it on a map. This gives relief organizations a quick overview where possible victims can be found, where food and further aid is needed.


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