Saturday, September 1, 2012

ICA used for safety concerns in Georgia

"In Georgia, Elva is being used to collect and share information about daily life in nearly two dozen border villages that participate in a 'Community Safety Network' developed by Saferworld. They are focused on such specific topics as shootings by troops or border police, the presence of armed groups, detentions of people for accidental or deliberate border crossings, and acts of physical violence, along with more subjective measures of safety and security. The information collected can be quite granular, as in tracking how often security providers and human rights monitors visit each village and whether or not those visits include speaking to local residents or not. 'People in these communities don't have access to the internet,' says Jonne Catshoek, Elva's project manager. So, in each village, a volunteer community representative has been recruited to respond to a pre-agreed weekly questionnaire via SMS. Each response to a question is coded with a different letter, and reps simply send one text message combining all those letters to a short code to send in their reports, which go straight from the mobile company via VPN to Elva's servers. Below is a sample page from the weekly questionnaire, along with an example of what a summary text message might read. It's an ingenious solution to an ordinarily complex data-gathering problem."

This is a great example of ICA and crowdsourcing being used to a good purpose.  A simple concept that requires little from each individual but collectively produces a useful tool for the whole community.

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