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December 06 2011


Last Call for Entries for the 2012 Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project & mHealth Alliance Award

December 31 Deadline Rapidly Approaching for Competition with $650,000 in Cash and Prizes for Wireless and mHealth Solutions

The Vodafone Americas Foundation and mHealth Alliance announced the last call for submissions for the annual Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project™ and the mHealth Alliance Award, a competition designed to spark innovation and help solve pressing global issues. Proposals will be accepted through December 31.

"So far, we’ve received very unique and exciting solutions, and we’re encouraged by the caliber of the applicants who have submitted proposals," said June Sugiyama, Director of the Vodafone Americas Foundation. "This is the next generation of wireless innovation that can make a critical impact for problems facing millions of people around the globe.”

The Vodafone Americas Foundation™ launches the Wireless Innovation Project™ annually with a partnership with the mHealth Alliance. There is over $650,000 worth of prizes for solutions in the fields of education, health, access to communication, economic development, and the environment. Winners will acquire vast recognition as the frontrunners of a national competition. The partnership with the Vodafone Americas Foundation will last for three years following the presentation of the award.

Projects should be global in scope and must be at a stage of research where an advanced prototype or field/market test can occur during the award period. Proposals are due December 31, 2011, and winners will be announced at the Global Philanthropy Forum in April 2012. 

If you or someone you know is interested in applying, you can begin the application process at http://project.vodafone-us.com/application/questionnaire.php. Details about eligibility, the application, information on past winners and more can be found at project.vodafone-us.com. More information about the mHealth Alliance and its work can be found at mhealthalliance.org.

ABOUT the Vodafone Americas Foundation™
Vodafone Americas Foundation™ is part of Vodafone’s global network of foundations. It is affiliated with Vodafone Group Plc, the world's leading mobile telecommunications company, with ownership interests in more than 30 countries and Partner Markets in more than 40 countries. As of March 31, 2011, Vodafone had approximately 370 million proportionate customers worldwide. In the U.S., the foundation directs its philanthropic activities towards the San Francisco Bay and the Metro Denver Areas where most Vodafone employees live and work, and where it strives to make a positive and enduring impact on the community. The Foundation is driven by a passion for the world around us. It makes grants that help people in the community and around the world lead fuller lives.

ABOUT the mHealth Alliance
The mHealth Alliance champions the use of mobile technologies to improve health throughout the world. Working with diverse partners to integrate mHealth into multiple sectors, the Alliance serves as a convener for the mHealth community to overcome common challenges by sharing tools, knowledge, experience, and lessons learned. The mHealth Alliance advocates for more and better quality research and evaluation to advance the evidence base; seeks to build capacity among health and industry decision-makers, managers, and practitioners; promotes sustainable business models; and supports systems integration by advocating for standardization and interoperability of mHealth platforms. The mHealth Alliance also hosts HUB (Health Unbound), a global online community for resource sharing and collaborative solution generation. Hosted by the United Nations Foundation, and founded by the Rockefeller Foundation, Vodafone Foundation, and UN Foundation, the Alliance now also includes PEPFAR, HP, the GSM Association, and NORAD among its founding partners. For more information, visit www.mhealthalliance.org.

February 16 2011


7 Lessons From the Egyptian Revolution

Whilst I am no expert in Egyptian history or politics, I have found the role of digital technologies in Egypt's revolution fascinating. This blog serves as a summary of some of my observations surrounding the 18 days of protest, which successfully ended President Hosni Mubarak's nearly 30 years of rule.

1. People at the heart.

Whilst information and communication technology (ICT) provided critical channels to mobilize and magnify the revolution, it was the motivated, driven activists, such as the leaders of the April 6 Movement who effectively and deliberately used these tools to organize the protests. Millions of brave, determined demonstrators took action and met on the streets. Thus, it was the Egyptian people -- not the tools they used -- who need to be given credit for successfully demanding political change.

2. Kick-started by social media.


Wael Ghonim, a Google marketing manager administered the We are all Khaled Said Facebook page that -- amongst others such as the January 25 Facebook page -- were the initial tools that enabled and enhanced the January 25 demonstration. Soon Twitter followed Facebook, with the #Jan25 hashtag spreading virally online.

As Ghonim told the AP: "This revolution started online. This revolution started on Facebook...This is the revolution of the youth, of the Internet and now the revolution of all Egyptians."

3. A combination of tactics.

The organizing capacity of social media was the impetus for the revolution and it continued to play a pivotal role throughout, recording events in real time for all with Internet access to see. However, other combined and coordinated tactics were used, including demonstration invitations delivered face-to-face and via email and SMS.

Hotline numbers, such as those of Front to Defend Egypt Protesters, were used to receive citizen reports. Blogs and photos were posted online, bambuser.com was used for live video streaming, Google created the Crisis Response page for Egypt and videos were posted on YouTube, Storyful, and CitizenTube.

Here's one such video highlighted on YouTube's CitizenTube page:

Arab satellite television, such as Al Jazeera, was also a particularly powerful force for intensifying participation both locally and internationally. For instance, Wael Ghonim was interviewed on television, after he was imprisoned for 12 days by the secret police. He wept for the 300 Egyptians killed and it is widely believed that this emotional moment turned up the movement's heat and led to a large swell in the number of protesters in Tahrir Square the day following his interview. It was broadcast on television, uploaded on YouTube, subtitled, and then circulated widely on Facebook and Twitter.

Even when the government disrupted and blocked Internet and mobile phone communication, activists were inspired to be even more resourceful in their use of cross-platform strategies. Researcher, Alix Dunn gives examples of these hybrid techniques and how they spread: satellite news broadcast of tweets, transmission from satellite television to radio, and leaflet distribution by people on the ground.

The impact of this coordination is proof that the Egyptian revolution was both a people's movement and a tech-centric uprising.

4. Censorship led to further innovation.

During government disruptions of Internet/mobile communications, citizens and journalists continued to use social media via third party applications like Hootsuite and TweetDeck and they transmitted videos via satellite devices.

Full Internet/mobile censorship by the government led to further communication innovation, with Speak2Tweet being developed by Twitter/Google, so that Egyptians could send news without being online. Egyptians could call in to advertised numbers to leave voice messages, which were then tweeted via the #Egypt hashtag, with a link to the audio message. Small World News subsequently organized translation of the Arabic messages into English.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo warned autocrats that censorship doesn't prevent protesters from using Twitter completely, "you're just challenging them to find another way to use it. People will always find a way to communicate."

5. The importance of external allies.

Twitter and Al Jazeera English service were key avenues for Egyptians to communicate with the rest of the world, including with international NGOs, bloggers, and media. Once the world is paying attention and in solidarity with the uprising, citizen protests become more difficult for dictators to ignore.

6. Corporations should be held more accountable.

According to Pyramid Research, the government used Vodafone Egypt, in which it has a 36 percent ownership stake, to send pro-government SMS messages to the Egyptian citizens. According to sources on the ground, Mobinil was used for this purpose as well. Later Vodafone, other mobile operators and the country's major Internet service providers, were forced to suspend their networks by the government.

Telecommunications providers and ISPs, which have physical assets, usually need a country license to operate. Thus, they are more susceptible to government pressure than corporations like Facebook and Google, which do not have to build infrastructure in a country to be accessed by its citizens. Yet despite pressure from repressive regimes, surely corporations like Vodafone have some responsibility to citizens and should be held accountable for their actions in Egypt and elswhere?

7. A question of access.

Egypt is blessed with a relatively solid ICT infrastructure. According to Pyramid Research, there are three mobile operators, providing nationwide coverage and 3G services, with cellular penetration having reaching 78 percent of the population by the end of 2010. According to 2009 data 21 percent of Egyptians are online and 5.1 million are on Facebook.

In African countries, where access to ICT is considerably less, building up this type of political momentum may be more difficult.

Conclusion and next steps

ICT and particularly social media definitely lubricated and sped up the revolt in Egypt and, as Ethan Zuckerman states, it will be interesting to see how these tools will be used to help form a new democratic government in Egypt.

When Wael Ghonim was asked what's next in revolutions in the Arab world, he told CNN: "Ask Facebook."

Similarly, global citizens from countries with repressive regimes have heard the tweets and the news from Egypt and are in some way emboldened and inspired.

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December 17 2010


October 22 2010


Vodafone Americas Foundation™ Annouces Call for Entries for Annual Wireless Innovation Project™ and mHealth Alliance Award

Prestigious Competition Awards $650,000 in Cash and Prizes to Technology with Most Promise to Global Solve Pressing Issues

The Vodafone Americas Foundation and mHealth Alliance are pleased to announce a call for entries for the annual Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project™ and mHealth Alliance Award, a competition to identify and support promising wireless-related technologies to address critical social issues around the globe. Proposals will be accepted from September 27, 2010 through December 15, 2010, with the final winners announced at the annual Global Philanthropy Forum in Redwood City, CA in April 2011.

read more

February 21 2010


Motorola Milestone Joins Vodafone

There are further network launches planned for the Milestone with a release on the O2 network expected very soon, for those that struggle to pass the network credit checks when trying to buy a contract phone there is also a planned launch for the Motorola Milestone as a Pay As You Go phone.

The main competition to the Motorola Milestone will actually come from forthcoming phones yet to be released, the Sony Ericsson X10 is the manufacturers first Android powered handset whilst Motorola’s own Motorola Backflip which is an upgrade to the current Dext phone also incorporates a Qwerty keyboard and Android software.

Competition not only comes from the Google Nexus One phone but also other handsets that use other operating systems such as the HTC HD2 and Samsung Omnia Pro with Windows Mobile and the Sony Ericsson Satio which is a Symbian run device.

The Milestone gives access to the ever expanding Android market with more and more applications that support this latest Motorola phone being made available, there are a number of social networking apps for sites such as Facebook and Twitter to keep the user connected with friends as well as a huge array of mobile content, videos and entertainment applications available.

Unlike the recently launched Google Nexus One which features the Android 2.1 OS, the Milestone offers this physical keyboard for fast text input for those that cannot get on with the onscreen ‘virtual’ Qwerty keyboards of touch screen only phones.

The Motorola Milestone is the first mobile phone to feature the Android 2.0 operating system, this powerful device also packs a 5.0 mega pixel camera with autofocus and dual LED flash as well as a very handy slide out Qwerty keyboard.

This latest network release on Vodafone for the Milestone phone means there are now more tariffs than ever before to choose from when trying to match your usage requirements, there are even a substantial range of free gift combinations available when ordering on some of the more costly talk plans.

This Android 2.0 powered Motorola phone has been available since the 8th of January on the Orange network and as a SIM Free and unlocked mobile phone, the Motorola Milestone was then launched on a range of T-Mobile packages on the 28th of the same month giving even more choice to consumers earching for the best deal.

The most powerful Motorola phone launched to date has now been released on a new network, the Motorola Milestone can now be connected to a range of Vodafone pay monthly contract tariffs from free.

The Motorola Milestone is soon to be joined by the new Motorola Backflip further adding to the range of Android powered phones from the manufacturer.

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