Cellphones Have Become Tool for Doing Good Globally

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 700 million people do not have access to clean drinking water and over 2.5 billion have no access to toilets. Yet according to the International Telecommunications Union, 96 percent of the world is connected via cellphone — which is why it has become a means of doing good.   Continue reading at NYTimes.

OLPC is plowing forward with the successor to the XO-1

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012
OLPC CEO Rodrigo Arboleda said in a released statement today, “There is constant debate over laptops versus tablets in educational programs. But the truth is both have their merits. While maintaining our XO’s award-winning design from Yves Behar’s FuseProject, we have combined features of both devices to deliver dual benefits. The new XO-4 Touch is more than just a device, it’s a new way of facilitating learning.”

The XO-4 Touch is expected to be available in the first quarter of 2013. No word on pricing.

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Update on One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)

It’s been slow going. About 1.6 million of the group’s laptops have been distributed to date, said Matt Keller, vice president for global advocacy at the O.L.P.C. Foundation, based in Cambridge, Mass. Today, the largest concentrations are in Uruguay, at around 400,000, and Peru, at 280,000, followed by Rwanda (110,000) and Haiti and Mongolia (15,000 each).

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More human beings today have access to a cellphone than the United Nations says have access to a clean toilet

A nice article on cell phones and the part they are playing to close the great tech divide:

The number of mobile subscriptions in the world is expected to pass five billion this year, according to the International Telecommunication Union, an intergovernmental organization. That would mean more human beings today have access to a cellphone than the United Nations says have access to a clean toilet.

And because it reaches so many people, because it is always with you, because it is cheap and sharable and easily repaired, the cellphone has opened a new frontier of global innovation.

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Google SMS Allows People To Access Information With Their Mobile Phones

Google does a great job of describing Google SMS— it’s basically technology that meets the needs and infrastructure of Africa:

Most mobile devices in Africa only have voice and SMS capabilities, and so we are focusing our technological efforts in that continent on SMS. Today, we are announcing Google SMS, a suite of mobile applications which will allow people to access information, via SMS, on a diverse number of topics including health and agriculture tips, news, local weather, sports, and more. The suite also includes Google Trader, a SMS-based “marketplace” application that helps buyers and sellers find each other. People can find, “sell” or “buy” any type of product or service, from used cars and mobile phones to crops, livestock and jobs.


Filing this one under digital divide:

This device, called a Network Relief Kit, weighs less than four pounds and “is a grand slam invention,” Mr. Lopes said. “It’s portable, light and brings the outside world to the most remote, disconnected places.”

It was created by NetHope, a collaboration of nonprofit organizations and technology companies working to improve humanitarian aid around the world. Founded in 2001, NetHope, which is based near Washington, has engaged in relief efforts after natural disasters like storms and earthquakes, as well as armed conflict. Charitable donors often prefer lean organizations with low overhead so that most of their contributions go directly to help the needy. As a result, however, nonprofits have chronically underfinanced information technology departments, which oversee operations like networking, computers and satellite phones.