New Delhi: Winners of mBillionth Award South Asia 2013, which seeks to promote innovations in mobile technologies for better governance, rural development and inclusive growth, were announced on Thursday. The award honours innovations in mobile applications and service delivery. As many as 33 winners were announced in various categories which include business and commerce and banking, education and learning, entertainment, health and governance. Here’s a look at a few of the winners.
Product: Mobile Seva
Provider: Government of India
The service, launched by the department of electronics and information technology, has been created to provide government services to citizens on their mobile phones through SMS, interactive voice response, location-based services and through applications downloadable from a dedicated appstore (http://apps.mgov.gov.in). The project is being implemented by the Centre for development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC). Through this application, citizens can interact with government departments for 212 public services over SMS.
As a part of this initiative, C-DAC has created a centralized platform, named mobile Service Delivery Gateway (mSDG), to provide a one-stop solution to central and state government departments for their entire mobile-based public service delivery needs. The SMS facility has been operational since July 2011 and so far 480 central and state government departments are using it for providing SMS-based services. Over 99 million SMS notifications have been sent to citizens under the project for various services. The figures stand testimony to Mobile Seva’s easy integration with any government department or agency for delivery of public services.
Category: m-Women and children
Provider: Dnet, Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action
Aponjon is a mobile-based service, which aims to provide health-related information to expecting mothers in Bangladesh. It is implemented by Dnet, a Bangladeshi social enterprise, and is a part of Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action, a global initiative for improving maternal and child health. Aponjon is operated under a programme agreement between the US government and Bangladesh.
Aponjon provides free messaging service to the underprivileged, especially those living in urban slums and remote areas. Launched in December 2012, the mobile application works on a simple idea—it delivers regular and often crucial health information and messages once a user registers for the service. It also allows people to sponsor underprivileged women and their families which would help them avail this service and receive 89 weeks of free health messages—from pregnancy till the baby’s first year.
Category: m-Education and learning
Product: Result-via sms
Company: Janaki Technology Pvt. Ltd
Sparrow SMS utilizes SMS technology to send results of important exams to mobile users of NTC, NCell, UTL and SmartTel operators in Nepal. After sending an enquiry about their results to a certain number through SMS, students receive the division of their marks under every subject through an SMS. “The result system in Nepal is quite unorganized and students, especially in the rural areas have to wait for a long time to get their board results,” says Amit Agrawal, CEO of Nepal-based Janaki Technology. “This really harms their prospects for further education as many children go to India for admissions.”
The application mainly targets students that have recently appeared for exams from different boards and do not have Internet access. The biggest challenge for the company was to convince the education boards and telecom companies to partner with them. According to Agrawal, the company receives four million queries every year and targets to reach 15 million people through this service.
Category: m-Education and learning
This mobile application aims to help students prepare for various competitive exams including the Combined Aptitude Test, Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and GMAT. It is available on Android, iOS, Symbian and Java and allows users easy access to previous years’ question papers from 1994 to 2008. It also has facilities wherein publishers can distribute quizzes on mobiles along with lucid solutions, timed and untimed tests and category-wise tests.
Users can also generate a detailed progress report to keep track of their performance while travelling. In tune with the steep increase witnessed in educational applications, CATapp has registered a current user base of 7,000, according to the company data.
Company: Zenga Media Pvt. Ltd
ZengaTV is a mobile and web streaming platform which allows users to watch regular TV channels on GPRS-enabled mobile phones, anywhere, anytime, free of cost. The company uses the 2.5G technology for its services. According to the company, they have 22-23 million active users and 65% of the market share.
For users, these associations translate into access to a repository of thousands of national and international channels, movies and other shows. The interface is extremely simple and all that the user has to do is to log on to the website and choose the content that she wants to view.
Category: m-News and journalism
Product: Jharkhand Mobile News
Company: Gram Vaani Community Media Pvt. Ltd.
Jharkhand Mobile Vaani is a citizen radio-over-phone platform that aims to facilitate public communication in remote and rural areas. Through this service, a person needs to give a missed call on a certain number and is called back by the organization, airing his/her voice through a community radio channel. This initiative is aimed at enabling poorly literate and low-income citizens to engage with each other on topics of mutual interest and share information in a seamless manner.
“All of us have access to Facebook, Twitter and other such technologies where we can communicate ideas and thoughts with other people. People in these remote areas have no such facilities,” says Aaditeshwar Seth. “In Jharkhand, people are using this forum in a very interesting way. They often share poetry and folk songs on the forum,” he added.
The service is even utilized by farmers to ask questions on agriculture, health and government schemes which are answered by Gram Vaani’s resource partners. It has also become a medium for users to share grievances regarding government schemes like NREGA. “Think of it like a Facebook for rural areas, which means we have a very captive user base. In Jharkhand, we get over 2,000 calls a day,” says Seth.
Gram Vaani is currently working on a model to make the venture financially sustainable by attracting advertisers and sponsors for network.
Category: m-Women and children
Product name: HelPls
Company: Varshyl Tech
HelPls is an emergency alert system devised to send an SMS to selected friends and family alerting them in case of an emergency. The application which can be downloaded on iOS, Android and Blackberry operating systems, also automatically calls the police on its emergency contact number by making a call automatically through a mobile phone.
The application also gives details about the distressed person’s location to online friends on Facebook and Twitter, through Geo maps. Another feature of this application is that it records voices for up to 60 seconds, which is automatically sent to an email address entered on the application. Social Circle, a user friendly feature, allows a HelPls app user to help out another HelPls app user by sending out an ‘alerts notification’ accompanied by the person’s name and phone number, to other HelPls user in proximity (within 5km radius) for help.
“The biggest challenge was to try and get this to work without the Internet. Often when we get into trouble, we don’t have Internet access,” says Harish Sharma, managing partner, Varshyl Tech. Apart from India, the application has received registrations from the UK, the US and China, according to Sharma.
Product: coMix on-the-go
Company: Zero-Sum Wireless Solutions India Pvt. Ltd
This application, available on various platforms including Googleplay, SamsungApps, BlackBerry AppWorld and AppStore Nokia, offers users to choose comics from over 1000 titles. Providing access to a wide genre of comics—ranging from action to romance, animation to mythology, history to sci-fi—coMix-on-the-go boasts of a library which has been legally licensed and produced in an e-format best suited for mobile and tablet screens. The application can be easily downloaded and allows users to search through a detailed catalogue which includes both free as well as paid comics. What makes it lucrative for publishers is the fact that this application makes it possible for them to enter the newly emerging digital market without making any upfront investment. Needless to say, they also stand to receive a percentage of each comic sold through this application.
For the readers, it promises greater accessibility as all comics are priced lower than their paperback editions. Moreover, using ‘Framer’ technology, this mobile-based application captures the true essence of comic reading to provide a new immersive reading experience to readers. Each comic can be read in multiple modes such as page and frame view and comes with special effects like page and device vibrations.
Mint has a strategic partnership with Digital Empowerment foundation, which hosts the mBillionth Awards.