A lot of my work is in the development sector. Yes, development, as in information technology, but development as in getting food to those poor little fekkers in [pick a country], and, no, I'm not schlepping food around.
I did my first stint in what later would be called ICT4D, information and communication technologies for development, in 2001 (ah, to be young again!) and haven't really left it since.
There's no hard and fast rule for which types of organizations are best suited to deliver international aid or bring development to underdeveloped regions (sometimes small is better, sometimes it isn't, etc.), and one organization that's both blessed (by its extensive financial resources) and blighted (by its horrid bureaucracy) is the UN.
In 2003 (in Geneva) and in 2005 (in Tunis), the UN sponsored The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), "conferences about information, communication and, in broad terms, the information society". One of its objectives was to close the digital divide between rich and poor countries and, in true UN fashion, established 17 May as World Information Society Day (srsly, why not have an international toilet day as well – oh, there is one?).
The Tunis summit resulted in the Tunis Decleration and Plan of Action (PDF), a 10 (ten!) year plan to "Achieve an Inclusive, People Centered, Development Oriented and Knowledgeable Information Society for All". Of course, the 2015 deadline ties in with the deadline for the MDGs, but, mostly, the 'plan' is just an overly verbose recommendation.
In 2003, the World Summit Award (WSA) was initiated by Austria (why Austria?) in the framework of the 2003 summit in Geneva. This, in turn, spawned the WSA-mobile awards, in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Systems and Information Centre (something of a holistic ICT overseer for Abu Dhabi). Apparently, the WSA-mobile's objective is to answer the question: “What is really out there in the mobile world and might still be slumbering inside a few creative minds, but can change our every day life tomorrow?”
Deep, if anything.
In 2010 and, now, in 2012, WSA-mobile presented an award for best mobile content in 8 categories.
Eduardo Cachucho and myself created Deriveapp 2.0, a web based mobile app for assisted semi-random meanderings in an urban environment, forcing the user to experience his direct surroundings as opposed to typical tourist attractions, and submitted it in the m-Tourism and Culture category.
Some of the competitors submitted interesting products, but few were really innovative. In my (undoubtedly biassed) opinion, Deriveapp is innovative, even though it's based on a 50 year old theoretical framework, and, as a result, we are one of the five winners in our category.
The five winners are:
+ Deriveapp 2.0. That's us!
+ map2app.com, an environment to create your own mobile apps with tourist information for destinations of your choice.
+ Tripwolf, a Lonely Planet wannabe.
+ TaxiPal, a mobile app for ordering taxis, particularly when you're in a place you are not familiar with.
+ Harpoen, an iOS app to leave localised messages which can be accessed by other users.
See you in Abu Dhabi in February!