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March 12, 2018

What did Mobile World Congress 2018 show us about Creating a Better Future?

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By Rachel Sibande and Danielle Dhillon

At the annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) 107,000 visitors from 205 countries gathered to see the latest offerings showcased by the mobile industry and convene around topics such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT) – all connected to greater theme of Creating a Better Future. But, how can we create a better future for all by leveraging mobile and technology?

#SDG5 Gender Equality at Mobile World Congress.

Gender Equality

As young women attending MWC for the first time, there were times we felt out of place and aware of being one of the few women in the room, so we want to highlight Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Approximately 24 per cent of attendees and 28 per cent of speakers were female, an increase from 23 per cent and 21 per cent in 2017 respectively. We are proud that the Digital Impact Alliance had representation from five female employees at the event and that Kathy Calvin, the CEO of the United Nations Foundation, was a featured keynote speaker.

In addition to her powerful LinkedIn post and the inspiring day-in-the-life of Kathy Calvin at MWC video, we were struck by her response to the on-stage question “What is the most pressing issue of today?” because there are so many to choose from. “Inequality is at the heart of every countries’ challenges today. Today we have people who are richer or poorer, we have people with fewer rights than others and even something as simple as 200 million fewer women have access to mobile phones.”

While progress is being made, it’s important to remember there’s always more to be done to improve equality, especially as we evaluate how to better use mobile and data for development. In the words of our partner Data2x, “better data from everyone enables better decisions for everyone”.

Better Data

It was an important week for data. DIAL is proud to be an advisory panel member of GSMA’s Big Data for Social Good (BD4SG) initiative, which works towards establishing a holistic framework and approach to analyzing data captured on operators’ networks to help public agencies and NGOs tackle epidemics, natural disasters and environmental crises. At MWC, the BD4SG initiative announced the success of its first wave of trials and shared demonstrations to attendees. The initiative also announced its next phase which will focus on disaster preparedness. DIAL is excited to be working even more closely with GSMA moving forward to scale the use of mobile data for development (and humanitarian) purposes.

DIAL’s Data for Development team also released a paper at Mobile World Congress on the topic of Unlocking MNO Data to Enhance Public Services and Humanitarian Efforts, which provides insights to governments, humanitarian organizations and mobile network operators on the shared value proposition of using mobile data for development (D4D). The paper seeks to address and highlight market implementation experiences to advocate for a more systematic, secure and fully functional D4D ecosystem.

Engage the Government

As part of the Capturing Big Data for Social Good fireside chat, DIAL’s CEO Kate Wilson had the opportunity to sit down with Godfrey Itaye, the Director General of the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority.

Mr. Itaye shared of the regulators aspirations in regard to the big data for social good initiatives. He particularly referenced the digital health project in Malawi where DIAL, together with partners Cooper Smith and the Ministry of Health, are leveraging data from Mobile Network Operators, geospatial data and routine health systems data to generate insights and analytics that help understand population densities and migration patterns as they relate to health outcomes such as placement of health facilities.

Kate Wilson and Godfrey Itaye at Mobile World Congress 2018

Unlike cases where rigid regulations have hindered the use of Mobile Network Operator data for such causes, Itaye emphasized the importance of developing dynamic legal and regulatory frameworks that can support the use of data for development. He articulated the multitude of potential that such data for development initiatives would ultimately have in creating social impact across sectors such as health, education, climate change management and urban planning among others.

“As a regulator, we support the use of big data for social good. We believe that; if it is for the good of the common Malawian, it must be supported”.

DIAL sought to hear from Itaye on the concerns the regulator may have regarding the use of MNO data for development initiatives. Itaye, reiterated the importance of adhering to data protection laws and standards.

Itaye ended off with some piece of advice to D4D practitioners:

Do not ignore the regulator in D4D deployments. Engage us, we regulate the Telecomms sector and data is a central part of it. We are partners in development. Let regulators and D4D practitioners avoid working in isolation.

February 02, 2018

Guest Blog: From Pen to Principle: The Evolution of the Digital Principles Community

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Over the past decade, the digital development field has rapidly matured as small-scale pilots have paved the way for coordinated and scaled systems. But success for digital tools and initiatives has not come by accident. Practitioners have dedicated the time to thorough context analysis and planning, and careful monitoring to ensure that they are deploying tools that are appropriate and adaptive. These best practices, and the real-world experience, of digital development practitioners is captured in the new Principles for Digital Development website.

Jacqueline Deelstra Communications Associate, Digital Health, PATH

The new website was launched in October 2017 with the goal of providing digital development professionals with resources and guidance to plan, design and deploy successful initiatives. The final content is the result of over a year of engagement with the global digital development community and a drafting process that was rooted in three digital principles: designing with the user, reusing existing resources and being collaborative.

While the drafting process was led by the Digital Health team at PATH, the content embodies a wide range of initiatives, resources and insights gathered from multiple sectors. DIAL and PATH engaged stakeholders in the Global North, including original “founding” organizations, and organizations in the Global South that engaged with the Digital Principles for the first time. This interaction with stakeholders included four separate workshops and over 50 interviews to understand what gaps existed in the previous Principles content and what was preventing organizations from endorsing. The most consistent feedback received was that the Digital Principles were great in theory, but as written were difficult to put into action and were so prescriptive at times that they came across as mandates rather than guidance.

Reflecting this feedback, we created:

  • Actionable implementation guidance for the nine Digital Principles divided into four overarching phases of a typical digital development project lifecycle: Planning and Analysis; Design and Development; Deployment and Implementation; and Monitoring and Evaluation, which was written as cross-cutting guidance
  • Five new how-to guides covering topics identified as common challenges faced by digital development practitioners
  • Six new case studies covering digital initiatives implemented by endorsers of the Digital Principles

To create content that addressed practitioner input and embodied the Digital Principles we led a process that included:

  • Developing User Personas: To identify the target audience for the Digital Principles website, PATH worked with to DIAL to create user personas, or realistic representations of the key audience segments. The target users were identified as field-based program managers and technical specialists, in addition to Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) advisors and program directors based at the global headquarters of international NGOs. The content is also designed to be used by ICT4D specialists and evangelists at donor organizations. We interviewed people representative of our user personas to deepen our understanding of what content would be useful for their day-to-day challenges and needs.
  • Gathering Existing Resources: The Digital Principles guidance and how-to guides draw heavily on existing reports, toolkits and blog posts that were identified by the team drafting the content and submitted by the community. We know there are resources that we have not yet referenced and that new relevant tools will be developed, so please submit additional resources through the Digital Principles Forum.
  • User Review: A peer review board and the general public reviewed drafts of the guidance for the nine Digital Principles and the five how-to guides. The content was available through Google Docs and reviewers were able to suggest content edits and additions, and other resources to include. Through this review process we received responses from approximately 50 digital practitioners representing a range of organizations, sectors and countries.
  • Creating Living Content: The current content represents more than five rounds of user feedback and review, but is in no way assumed to be final. Any feedback and resources received through the Digital Principles Forum will be considered for incorporation into the website. Endorsing organizations also are encouraged to use the case study template to draft their own case studies that showcase how their initiatives have incorporated the Digital Principles and the lessons that have been learned along the way. Case studies can be submitted to PrinciplesAdmin@digitalimpactalliance.org for inclusion on the website.

Organizations interested in joining the conversation around the Digital Principles will have the opportunity at upcoming events including a Practicing the Principles for Digital Development event in Indonesia in February, where DIAL will be showcasing the new content and seeking more engagement and feedback from the community.

Jacqui Deelstra has ten years of experience in project management and communications. Her work has focused on youth, education and health, and the impact of information and communication technology in these sectors. She joined PATH in 2017 as a Communications Associate on the Digital Health team. Previously, she was a Technology for Development Associate at Creative Associates International. She holds a master’s degree in International Affairs from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

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