Recently, I was in Abu Dhabi for the World Summit Award’s (WSA) mobile content awards. After seven years of rewarding the best e-content in the world, the WSA this year has diversified into identifying the best m-content as well. It was a recognition that the entire meaning of content changes as soon as the platform shifts from the computer to personal mobile handsets. Content is more diverse on the Internet, while mobile trends point towards application development rather than pure content delivery.
The awards received approximately 300 nominations from 100 countries, and the quality of nominations from the developing world was particularly remarkable. Categories such as entertainment, business and culture were dominated by nominations from developed economies; those such as governance, livelihood and environment were dominated by developing countries. India sent the most impressive set of nominations—all its eight nominations reached final stages of discussion, and four were selected as winners.
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The following are the eight applications that were India’s nominations for the awards:
Drona: An m-learning platform that allows you to create customized learning applications, distribute them to their audience, track and analyze performance and use. The application is interactive, compact and portable, and it can be downloaded easily.
Eko: A pioneering effort towards delivering basic banking services 24x7 through all mobile handsets, Eko dials a single-string number for transactions and secures them on SimpliBank, an open-source platform. A mobile number works as a personal bank account number. Since Eko requires no add-ons, it is highly scalable, which makes it ideal for developing countries with growing mobile penetration. Eko has tied up with Bharti Airtel Ltd and State Bank of India, has a customer base of 50,000, and a transaction value of Rs 10 crore.
Many to One SMS: A tool that allows mobiles to aggregate numerical and textual information and then create a complex management information system (MIS), Many to One SMS can be used, for example, at labour sites where thousands of people are engaged under the government’s rural job guarantee scheme. The collector of the district of Katni, in Madhya Pradesh, has done exactly this. Currently, information on labour and the ongoing works at the panchayat level is collected and transmitted to the block, then to the district and the state, and finally consolidated in a central MIS.
M-Governance for Forest and Wildlife Management project: This project, conceptualized by the Madhya Pradesh forest department, equips forest officials with multilingual personal digital assistant-based applications. The applications aid in the organized monitoring of forests and wildlife, and enhance transparency in the formulation and implementation of forest and wildlife policies and increased vigilance in monitoring.
Ability: A groundbreaking inclusion tool, Ability converts text into sign language on a mobile phone. Developed by Willager, it provides differently abled users with more opportunities in classrooms, business and everyday environments. Ability promotes easy communication for persons who are hearing impaired by allowing effective two-way conversations.
Dakia: Developed by One97 Communications Pvt. Ltd, Dakia is a closed-group message exchange service, where the users and generators of messages are the people themselves. Dakia thus allows people in a particular region to share information by simply recording a voice message. This, once authenticated, is transmitted to the community for their immediate benefit. Vaulting issues of literacy, Dakia can be used to share local information about power cuts, weather, crop disease, crop prices and so on.
MobileWish Pocket Travel Assistant: Combining data from Google Maps, Yahoo, Flickr, Wikipedia, BBC, Reuters, Twitter and YouTube, this tool provides users with all the information needed for travel. It even uses the location of the phone to furnish local emergency numbers.
M-search: Are you tired of too much music and entertainment content pushed into your mobile? M-search allows users to search and enjoy only the music they want. Developed by OnMobile, M-search simplifies the search process and makes content available to users faster.
Osama Manzar is founder and director of Digital Empowerment Foundation and chairman of the Manthan awards. Mint is a partner of the Manthan awards.