Welcome to our weekly #ICT4D News Roundup! We are passionate about the intersection of technology and social good. Each week we look for the best articles that focus on the ICT4D industry, the issues that impact the sectors we work across, and interesting content for social enterprises.
Highlighted articles this week:
- What are the main challenges faced when developing data-driven practices in agriculture? – ICTworks
- Why “designing under the mango tree” helps prevent issues with digital solutions. – Next Billion
- What trends were missing in the UN’s Refugee Agency Global Trends Report? – Devex
- What’s ahead for mobile data collection in agriculture? – Dimagi
- How can we start preparing now to work with AI in the future? – Entrepreneur
- Dimagi Inc. and Mount Sinai’s Arnhold Institute for Global Health receive Grand Challenges Explorations Grant for malaria research project. – Mount Sinai
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES FOR DATA-DRIVEN AGRICULTURAL INNOVATION
USAID and the Sustainability Innovation Lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder (SILC) recently brought together leaders from the agriculture industry for a workshop to discuss developing more data-driven practices in agriculture. At the workshop, researchers, technology innovators, development practitioners, and funders presented on the challenges they faced when collecting and analyzing data in their work, and what solutions they have implemented. ICTworks highlights the key takeaways from the workshop:
Convening discussions also focused on the need to frame research, programs, and ventures within a firm understanding of smallholder needs and concerns. Not only will farmers in different contexts access data and technology differently, data and technology may be irrelevant if a farmer lacks reliable access to market and has no power to set prices for goods.”
HOW ‘DESIGNING UNDER THE MANGO TREE’ CAN PREVENT DIGITAL SOLUTION HICCUPS
At Dimagi, we learned early on that in order to create impactful technology, close collaboration with the end users is key. We call this “designing under the mango tree.” Read this article for more information on how one of our first partners, Catholic Relief Services, helped shape this philosophy.
‘Designing under the mango tree’ requires working in partnership with a variety of end users. True partnership takes a lot of work. If you want to have good digital solution that is designed to work in the field, you must constantly make changes, understand the goal and think about sustainability from the beginning.”
WHAT YOU MISSED READING UNHCR’S GLOBAL TRENDS
This week, as part of World Refugee Day, the United Nations Refugee Agency released its annual Global Trends Report. The goal of this report is to give the development community a deeper understanding of the current global refugees status, and where aid is most critically needed. This year, Devex analyzed the report and covered four trends happening within the refugee community that are not included in the report.
These headline takeaways will continue to shock — though they likely won’t surprise anyone in the humanitarian community, which has been on overdrive in recent years to respond to the global crisis. For our expert community, Devex took a look beyond the statistics in the report to look at a few trends that you might have missed.”
WHAT’S AHEAD FOR MOBILE DATA COLLECTION IN AGRICULTURE?
In 2015 the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) decided to invest in a mobile solution for data collection. Now, two years later, the ACIAR is getting ready to complete a study with a body of knowledge on the impact of digital data collection apps in agriculture projects. This Q&A with Jack Hetherington, research program coordinator at ACIAR, tells us more about the nine projects used in the evaluation, and the lessons he’s learned along the way.
What we are seeing is a diversity between the projects. Some projects are spending significant amounts of time on learning the system with available online resources, while others had to get their surveys completed in a very short time. These results will be documented and publicly shared to help inform the design of future projects.”
HOW TO PREPARE EMPLOYEES TO WORK WITH AI
Artificial intelligence technologies are advancing at a surprisingly fast rate, and if we want to make the most of its potential, early adoption is key. This article highlights the challenges we might face when utilizing AI in the future, and what we can do today to mitigate these challenges.
But, what does this mean for the workforce? For software developers, data scientists, engineers and the full spectrum of information technology workers, AI is perceived to either be putting their jobs at risk, or changing their responsibilities to accommodate its rapid advancement. While it’s difficult to predict the pace of AI adoption, some of the technology’s most influential leaders and early adopters agree that it’s advancing faster than anticipated. As AI’s development accelerates and implementations spread, it raises the question for workers in tech and other industries: Are my skills still relevant?”
DIMAGI INC. AND MOUNT SINAI’S ARNHOLD INSTITUTE FOR GLOBAL HEALTH RECEIVE GRAND CHALLENGES EXPLORATIONS GRANT FOR GROUNDBREAKING RESEARCH IN GLOBAL HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENT
We are proud to announce that we received a Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Award with The Arnhold Institute for Global Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Together we will create an integrated platform that can detect regions that have no available data and are deemed high-risk for malaria, otherwise known as “cold spots.”
Because this approach leverages existing data in a novel way, Dimagi and The Arnhold Institute for Global Health are confident that this solution will be game changing for malaria surveillance. Countries are increasingly deploying digital solutions at the frontline for malaria supply chain management. As these digital solutions are more commonly deployed on smartphones, GPS data is increasingly recorded as part of digital interactions. By combining this frontline data with geospatial analysis from recent satellite imagery, Dimagi and The Arnhold Institute will provide new analytical insights that require no changes to existing frontline digital services — a key ingredient for rapid adoption.”
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded Dimagi and Mount Sinai a Grand Challenges award for a similar project, Combating Zika and Future Threats. You can find out more about this project here.
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