UPDATE from Northern Uganda Medical Mission: It's official! NUMEM Health Centre will introduce our Rural Emergency Medical Communication System this July, sharing our goal of universal and quality health care access with community members. We are now in possession of eight top of the line Question Boxes that we will be installing throughout the district, and are in the process of purchasing a motorbike we will use to reach patients who live in the hard-to-reach areas. By the end of June we will have connected to a closed caller group through AirTel, and have begun surveying community members to gauge community need. We are so excited about launching the system and improving access to health care in Pader!
Question Box is being featured today at The Market Place: Showcases and Conference Laboratories (Colabs) session of ICT4RD 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Abdul Waheed Patel of ETHICORE is presenting on our behalf. If you are attending the conference, please stop by and say hello.
This Way Up, a program from Radio New Zealand, features an interview with Question Box founder Rose Shuman. This Way Up is a weekly two-hour show that explores the things we use and consume. 18 Jun, 2011 (11′29″) Check it out!
Google is great. Ask basic questions, get instant answers. You do it every day, and are more efficient for it. That access to information can be a matter of life or death or business survival in rural villages in the developing world, but the people who need basic information the most often don’t have internet access or computers. They may not even be able to read or write. So Rose Shuman, of the nonprofit Open Mind, came up with a plan to bring the value of a Google-type search to even the most remote parts of the globe.
Question Box is like a "fairy Godmother internet librarian for the village," Shuman explained to the Guardian's Activate conference in New York. It's a powerful idea, but Shuman’s willingness to change course when it wasn’t working also provides a lesson for development aid organizations, as she explained to GOOD.
In a video interview with the Guardian, Rose Shuman talks about the pace of Internet spread in the developing world ahead of the ACTIVATE 2010 summit.She is a speaker at the summit.
The Guardian's Activate Summit is a unique and powerful gathering of global visionaries at the Guardian's headquarters in London.Its a packed day of ideas and inspiration, providing insight into how the web and the myriad technologies that weave it all together are reshaping our world.
Patrick Meier, Director of Crisis Mapping and Strategic Partnerships at Ushahidi, presents a strong case for why Question Box should be on the frontlines of vulnerability alert systems worldwide. Excerpt:
"I’m in Bellagio on Lake Como this week for a Blue Sky Thinkers Workshop on the UN’s new Global Impact and Vulnerability Alert System (GIVAS)....(I think) the global alert system should directly empower vulnerable communities to prevent or mitigate the impact of crises on their own livelihoods. In other words, GIVAS should be a self-help system for vulnerable communities. The development and maintenance of this system should be the responsibility of the UN and governments. So here’s an idea (still under development): why not use the QuestionBox technology and approach to create “call in” centers for information on tactics for resilience." Read full post now at iRevolution
We have just discovered two wonderful blog posts written about Question Box last Fall. Both posts highlight that voice remains the primary communication method of choice in the developing world. Question Box works from that reality, delivering information to people the way they want it, in their language.
Sam duPont of the Global Mobile Technology Initiative at NDN writes, "This kind of innovation is what's needed now (in the mobile space)-- with such a new technology, we'll only get anywhere by trying everything, and seeing what really works for the end users." Read post
Prabhas Pokharel, a Knight News Challenge Winner, writes in IdeaLab, "(Question Box) leverages the voice capabilities of mobile phones to deliver important information in interesting ways." Read post
"In 2006, Rose Shuman found herself in a hotel room waiting to be summoned by the technology company that had flown her out to California for an interview. To prepare to impress her potential employer, she started brainstorming ideas that would demonstrate her creativity. Suddenly, the image of the intercoms that sit on the wall beside the entrances of Brown dorms popped into her head. She realized they could be the basis for a vast network linking the developing world..." Read More
"Technology designers tend to focus on creating new gadgets, but some of the most useful design solutions are those that adapt old gadgets for a new audience. A daunting example: making the vast stores of information on the internet accessible to people who can't read or write — and who may never have heard of the internet.
Daunting, but not impossible. Recently, Rose Shuman, a business and international development consultant, set out to design..." Read More
Founder and CEO Rose Shuman recently was interviewed on WomanzWorld, a blog for women entrepreneurs. Rose shares her experience in building Question Box and advice on how to move the organization forward.
Read Complete Interview on WomanzWorld
Social Entrepreneur Rose Shuman Thinks Outside Of The Box
Interview by Natalie Sisson
I was fortunate enough to meet the phenomenal Rose Shuman in Santa Monica, LA over my Christmas break. Over coffee I got to learn more about this human ball of energy and inspiration. A TED Fellow and Social Entrepreneur, Rose is incredibly engaging and her enthusiasm is infectious.
What I admire most about Rose is that she cares passionately about every aspect of her enterprise. She describes herself as very opinionated and uppity as well as strongly motivated and unafraid of challenging situations..
Question Box is no exception. She knew that 4 billion people in the world aren’t online but increasing numbers have mobile phones. She asked how do you take the promise of the internet and deliver it to people speaking obscure regional languages? Her answer – why not build something that does it for you and uses the networking ability of GPS and mobile phone network infrastructures that even Grandma could use?
She spent three years incubating it and 5 iterations of software and produced a brilliant yet simple innovation. Literally a box with a big button on the front that’s hooked up by mobile phone, it helps users ask for exactly what information they want, when they want it, and how they want it – live, in their local language.
It’s currently being used in Pune, India and piloted last summer in rural Mbale and Bushenyi, Uganda. Callers ask about anything they wish – agriculture, education, sports, health.
As Founder and CEO of Open Mind, she’s on a mission to bring Internet information to everyone who lacks access. On a daily basis she handles major strategy and company vision, investor relations and fundraising, business development, marketing/collateral development, complex international project management, research, operations management. What’s more she directs 15 team members on three continents, including engineering staff!
With new seeds being made for farmers in Africa, new methods of farming being promoted and linking farming to markets being emphasized, the need for farmers to have appropriate information on seeds, practices and market prices has been highlighted as a key intervention in improving agricultural productivity and helping empower especially small holder farmers........Read More
I really love this new illustration of the operators at work in Uganda.