ICTD2010 (XV). Gadgets

Notes from the Information and Communication Technolgies and Development — ICTD2010, held at the Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, UK, on December 13-16, 2010. More notes on this event: ictd2010.

Paper Session: Gadgets

Impact of Low-Cost, On-Demand Information Access in a Remote Ghanaian Village
Clifford Schmidt, Trina Jean Gorman, Michael Shayne Gary, Andrew Azaabanye Bayor

Context: low income, low or none literacy, no electricity.

Try to see how to get on-demand information, which is difficult if you have to access a kiosk and wait for the operator to be there, for the information to be ready or available, etc.

The Talking Book is the the world’s most affordable, durable, audio device designed specifically for people who cannot read and who live without electricity. Local experts spread knowledge reliably and easily with no information loss. Rural teachers complement their lessons with interactive applications and audio books.

The Talking Book allows for listening to and recording of content.

How to implement it?

The chief of the village will be approached and he will provide contacts with the relevant people and institutions around.

Once the target users are identified, an average of 45′ training is needed to operate the device.

After a year of usage of the Talking Book to get information on agriculture, an impact assessment was performed in order to see how had their harvests changed and whether these changes had had any origin in the usage of the Talking Book. It appeared that most people had been using the Talking Book and applying its knowledge to their daily practices and that their harvests had significantly been better in comparison with those that had not used the Talking Book. The impact was even more evident indeed because most people applied the advice of the Talking Book only to a part of their crop, thus the comparison was even more easy to test.

One of the problem is that it had been younger people the ones that had been using more intensively (or at all) the devices. There was not, though, any difference at the education level: unlike what was expected, less literate people did not think that the device was for “smarter” people, but used it them too.

On-demand access to locally recorded information can have a positive impact and the Talking Book is a low-cost good option for that.

Managing Microfinance with Paper, Pen and Digital Slate
Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan, Sunandan Chakraborty, Pushkar V. Chitnis, Kentaro Toyama, Keng Siang Ooi, Matthew Phiong, Mike Koenig

There are people that prefer paper and others digital supports.

  • Paper: tangible artefact; handwritten pen-based entry; familiar form.
  • Digital: automatic digitization, ease of aggregation and distribution; real time prompts and corrections.

86M women participants i 6M microfinance self-help groups across India, linked with banks, decentralized, autonomous, self-run. They are active in leading social, political and economic initiatives,but limited financial leverage/growth.

The problem is that they do all their accountability records on paper, which means that sending data to the central station takes a lot of time, that there are recording errors, calculation errors, legibility errors, data are incomplete, etc.

How to retain the familiar work practice while improving the system? Improve meaning locally digitising adn processing, real time prompts for error correction and completeness, establishing of a single point of entry… and keeping it low cost.

A pilot was developed: a digital slate where you write on paper, but where writing is recognized and digitized automatically. For the field trial, three methods were compared: paper-only, digital slate and touch-screen only.

Digital slate and touch-screen prover to increase the amount of “paperwork” done per day. The average meeting transaction recording time also decreased, even more in the case of the touch-screen.

Concerning the user, 88% of them stated that they preferred “the machine to speak” (the machine saying the figures and passbook entry) and not having a writer saying the figures and passbook entry.

The device can also be applied in or used for legal records, in educational testing, healthcare records etc.


Information and Communication Technologies and Development (2010)