“Mobilizing Development”

The UN Foundation-Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership just published a report that looks back at the 5 year, $28 million partnership that has explored how mobile technology can advance health, development, and humanitarian goals.

Former Financial Times reporter Mark Turner authored the report, titled Mobilizing Development.  (You can read it in full here.)  Below is a summary of some of the key findings, via the UN Foundation.

•    Piloting mHealth programs in over a dozen countries: Through funding for the World Health Organization and the social enterprise DataDyne, health ministries across sub-Saharan Africa participated in mobile health pilots that increased the efficiency and effectiveness of health programs.

•    Dozens of emergency communications deployments: Through partnerships with the World Food Program and the non-profit Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF), emergency communications professionals deployed to dozens of disasters and rebuilt communications centers for aid workers, enabling aid to flow more quickly to affected populations.

•    Hundreds of health and disaster relief specialists trained:  Dedicated trainings in the use of mobile and satellite-based communications systems strengthened health and disaster relief workers’ ability to use the latest technology tools effectively in the environments where they operate.

•    Thousands of professionals connected: The foundations funded knowledge sharing platforms in both the global health and disaster relief communities that enabled specialists across sectors and geographies to learn from one another, and further developed a webinar series training mHealth users.

•    Co-founding the mHealth Alliance, a multi-stakeholder network designed to bridge public and private sectors in advancing the use of mobile technology to improve the delivery of health information and services in low and middle income countries.  The two foundations continue their work together as Founding Partners of the mHealth Alliance. The report, written by former Financial Times UN bureau chief Mark Turner, highlights three models of partnership that the foundations embraced, including:

•    Innovation incubator: By providing funding for UN programs, and seeding experimental innovation without the pressure of showing commercial results, the foundations created a safe space that incubated innovation in the use of technology for development.

•    Thought leader: By investing in research and promoting those results, the partnership produced a series of groundbreaking reports that created a roadmap in new uses of technology to advance international development.

•    Cross-sector convener: By bridging the technology and humanitarian communities, the foundations created a middle ground where public and private sectors could meet to exchange resources and ideas, and identify new ways of working together.

The report also identifies, through the UN Foundation and Vodafone Foundation experience, shifts in public-private partnerships and the use of technology for development, including:

•    Flexible models of partnership: While the partnership between the foundations began as a grant-making program, over time they found creative ways to bring Vodafone’s corporate and market expertise to bear.  Ultimately the foundations helped to launch the mHealth Alliance, a multi-stakeholder network that allows for more flexible contributions from both foundations and accepts financial and in-kind donations from new partners.

•    Technology-enabled, human-centered aid: The foundations’ programs and research leveraged the tremendous growth in the use of mobile technology that has put powerful computers in the pockets of many in even the most marginalized populations, and opened new, two-way communications channels that are informing and reiterating the way technology is used as part of development and aid.

•    Information as aid: As a collaboration between a telecoms company and the aid community that focused on leveraging wireless technology to strengthen development work, the Technology Partnership revealed how information and communications, traditionally looked at as supporting components of aid work, are actually critical components of development and humanitarian assistance.

Along with the report is a neat interactive feature that gives readers a better sense of the personalities and projects behind this partnership. Check it out.