M4Change London: New Inspiration

Thanks to a kind invite from Katrin at MobileActive.org, I traveled to London last week to reprise the rapid ideation game recently run at Mobile Tech 4 Social Change in Washington, DC to the assembled group at Vodafone's London facilities for the UK edition of the barcamp — and it was well worth the journey. The 60-odd group gave up a sunny, warm Saturday outside to bring their ideas, passion and experiences together to explore the application of mobiles in service to social need.

I ran a similar card-based exercise as had been done by two sets of teams in Washington, and the outcomes were equally creative, detailed and all-around brilliant (We are inching toward a business plan for one of these at some point!). Memorable solutions created by the teams that took the 45-minute challenge included:

  • Agrario.mobi — A mobile radio broadcasting system designed to help rural-to-urban immigrants stay connected, get critical information, and act as a funding service to help these immigrants travel home.
  • Text 10 for Water — This solution was designed to enable mobile users to donate their unused minutes to water projects, find out the status of projects they've donated to, and find out who has contributed to which projects. Terence Eden has posted more detail about this concept and is looking for feedback.
  • Adopt an Election — This solution used a combination of the low-end mobile devices available in the fictional scenario and social networks to allow a large audience to "adopt" and monitor elections by tracking SMS messages about an election's status broadcast to Facebook and Twitter.

Conversations throughout the day were stimulating, and the proposed sessions ran the gamut from citizen journalism to privacy and surveillance in conflict zones to heatmapping. One common element was the focus on solutions, not simply identifying problems or looking at tech for tech's sake.

If you are at all interested in these topics and need a fresh infusion of ideas and inspiration, I recommend attending one of the upcoming events or looking to organize one of your own. Check out the new M4SC wiki for more info. More images from the event are here.