Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Broadband vs. Mobile Phones for Global Health

Kenyan lawyer and blogger Ory Okolloh wins a PopTech Fellowship. Another data point in the tug-of-war between broadband and mobile phone technology over which communication platform has the most relevance for reporting on global health.

Okolloh's Ushahidi platform helped mobile phone users crowd-source the location of no-go zones during post-election violence in Kenya last January through simple SMS or text messages. Ushahidi (Swahili for witness) also documented xenophobic attacks in South Africa in May.

Broadband approaches championed by outfits like MediaStorm or Flypmedia are more visually impressive but have nowhere near the penetration of SMS texting. The mobile phone approach, however, is dogged by pricing and security issues.

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