News Archive: 2011

Here’s where you’ll find details of kiwanja’s 2011 activities including talks, conference attendances, media interviews, writing and other general news. Links to even earlier news items can be found at the bottom of the page. Please note: Given the age of some of these entries, some external links may now no longer work.

December 2011: FrontlineSMS features at human rights conference

“This free seminar seeks to explore the different ways new technologies can be used to monitor, map and document human rights developments at the local, national and international level. It brings together experts from the University of Essex and partner organisations who are using new technologies for human rights awareness, analysis, and advocacy”. This month, Ken Banks was invited to speak at the “New Technologies for Human Rights” event in London. Full details are available on the IDCR website

December 2011: to judge Nokia’s “IDEAS Project”

kiwanja has been invited to help judge the “Future Applications for Development” category in the Nokia IDEAS Project. According to the website, the challenge focuses on the “development of mobile phone applications that in one way or another address the immense challenges our globe is facing concerning climate change, democracy, health, poverty reduction and increased livelihood in emerging growth economies“. Full details, and how to enter, are available on the Nokia website here

November 2011: Digital Continent Podcast interviews Ken Banks

“TMS Ruge talks to Ken Banks, the founder of and a recognized specialist in the application of mobile technology for positive social and environmental change. His most celebrated innovation is FrontlineSMS, a free open source application that turns a laptop and a mobile phone into a central communications hub. In this episode, Ken talks to TMS about how the software is being applied in various fields, the future of SMS, and smart phones versus dumb phones”. To read more, and to listen to the one hour interview, visit the Digital Continent Podcast website

November 2011: kiwanja talks ICT4D on BBC “Click”

Following a discussion started by Erik Hersman on the merits of the term “ICT4D“, kiwanja’s Ken Banks was invited to discuss the topic by the BBC Click team earlier this month. You can listen to the programme via the BBC page here (the ICT4D segment starts at exactly 11 minutes in)

October 2011: FrontlineSMS wins prestigious Curry Stone Design Prize

Earlier this month FrontlineSMS was awarded the Curry Stone Design Prize, a prestigious award which recognizes the valuable contributions of social design pioneers across the world. The award “was created in the belief that designers can be an instrumental force for improving people’s lives and the state of the world”. FrontlineSMS founder, Ken Banks, will collect the award on behalf of the team at a special event due to be held at Harvard University next month. Full details are available on the FrontlineSMS blog. Ken’s thoughts on the prize are available on the kiwanja blog here

October 2011: Ken Banks returns to Pop!Tech Faculty

“The faculty for PopTech’s Social Innovation Fellows Program contributes to a unique training program designed to accelerate positive impact. This talented group includes relevant thought leaders in fields that are absolutely critical to success, but rarely “taught” – such as mission clarity, design thinking, social venture and philanthropic capitalization, media relations and community engagement. Their expert advice for social innovators ensures a solid framework for effectiveness and results”. A Faculty member in 2010, will return again this year to welcome and advise the latest batch of Fellows. Full details are available on the Pop!Tech website

September 2011: FrontlineSMS interview with BBC Technology

Following his talk at the “Power of Information” conference in London, Ken Banks was interviewed for a BBC Technology article entitled “Africa’s quiet digital revolution” which looks at local, mostly grassroots initiatives taking hold on the continent. The article features the soon-to-be-released FrontlineSMS:Radio, and can be read here

September 2011: Local innovator nomination for has been nominated for an “Innovation Award” in the Business Awards for a local Cambridgeshire newpaper. The Hunts Post, which has featured FrontlineSMS in the past, runs an annual Awards ceremony designed to celebrate businesses in the Huntingdon area, where kiwanja has a main office. Full details are available in the Hunts Post

August 2011: Guest chapter published in mobile conflict book

“The book brings together experts and practitioners from different fields – mobile technologies, information systems, computer sciences, online dispute resolution, law, etc. – to reflect on present experiences and to explore new areas for research on conflict management and online dispute resolution (ODR). It also reflects on the transition from present ODR to future mobile Dispute Resolution and discusses key privacy issues. The book is addressed to anyone involved in conflict prevention and dispute management aiming to learn how mobile technologies can play a disruptive role in the way we deal with conflict”. kiwanja’s chapter looks at grassroots access to mobile technology platforms. Full details of the book are available here

August 2011: Ken Banks to appear at Royal African Society in London

Ken Banks will sit on a panel discussing “Mobile Technology: Developing Africa?” at the Royal African Society next month. He will be joined by Marieme Jamme, Nick Short and Guy Collender. The Royal African Society is over one hundred years old and is Britain’s prime Africa organisation. Further details of the event are available on the RAS website

July 2011: Newspaper coverage of UK Government’s African Delegation

FrontlineSMS/ joined the UK Prime Minister’s business delegation to Africa this month along with a number of key business leaders, parliamentary staff and journalists. The four day visit was originally scheduled to stop in South Africa, Nigeria, Southern Sudan and Rwanda but was cut short due to pressing events at home. Further details are available on the kiwanja blog, or interviews which appeared in the Cambridge Evening News and Jersey Evening Post newspapers

July 2011: Innovations Journal features FrontlineSMS

A guest essay on FrontlineSMS and kiwanja’s work in the “long tail” has been featured in the Winter 2011 edition of “Innovations”. According to the website, “The journal features cases authored by exceptional innovators; commentary and research from leading academics; and essays from globally recognized executives and political leaders. The journal is jointly hosted at George Mason University’s School of Public Policy, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and MIT’s Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship”. A PDF of the essay can be downloaded via this kiwanja blog post

July 2011: Ken Banks interviewed for Yale mobile case study

Ken Banks has been interviewed by the Yale School of Management as part of a comprehensive case study on Project Masiluleke, a collaboration between a number of organisations including Pop!Tech and the Praekelt Foundation. The full case study – Project Masiluleke: Texting and Testing to Fight HIV/AIDS in South Africa – can be read here. The video interview, where Ken Banks discusses his experiences of Pop!Tech, is here

June 2011: Guest post featured on The Guardian website

Following the recent Guardian Activate conference in London, kiwanja’s Ken Banks was asked to contribute a summary of the event for the Guardian “Poverty Matters” blog. The article – ‘Activate 2011: Technology powered by people’ – can be read here

June 2011: Guest article on innovation published by CNN

A guest article by Ken Banks was recently published on CNN World’s website as part of their Global Public Square focus on innovation. The focus of kiwanja’s article was the role and rise of “reluctant innovators”. The full article can be read here

June 2011: Interview with National Geographic Traveller Magazine

On a recent trip to National Geographic’s Washington DC headquarters, Ken Banks sat down with Keith Bellows, editor of National Geographic Traveller Magazine, for an informal chat about mobile, technology, conservation, development and kiwanja’s travel and work in Africa over the past 18 years. The resulting interview has now been published in the July/August copy of the magazine (available in the US only). You can read the full interview online, though, here

June 2011: Ken Banks interviewed by Ottowa Business Journal

Ken Banks was recently interviewed by the editors of the Ottowa Business Journal on the role of entrepreneurship and innovation in the US and the UK. The wider article, which looks at how we harness and incubate young talent, is available on the journal’s website

June 2011: FrontlineSMS featured in Wired

Following the recent Buckminster Fuller Challenge finalist announcement, Wired Magazine interviewed Ryan Jones, Fundraising and Grants Manager at FrontlineSMS, about the software – the history, it uses, and where the platform is headed. The interview is available on the Wired website

May 2011: New Vodafone “Policy Paper” launched

On May 19th in London, the Vodafone “Social Impact of Mobile” (SIM) Panel launched the latest in its series of policy papers. “Making Broadband Accessible For All” concluded that “the most effective way to provide affordable internet access to the majority of people in emerging economies was to extend the reach and capability of mobile networks. The current policy of focusing on significant investment in fibre access networks is unsustainable given the cost of deployment in rural areas”. The report also suggested that greater efforts should be made to increase the amount of content and services that are valued by users as a way of driving the demand for data services and therefore increasing business opportunities. kiwanja’s Ken Banks has been a member of the SIM Panel for the past two years. The full report can be downloaded as a PDF here

May 2011: Ken Banks interviewed by IRIN News

“Sending text messages via cell phones is one of the most effective ways of passing information to a mass audience” according to an interview given to IRIN News by Ken Banks earlier this month. The article, which focuses on the use of mobile technology to help child domestic workers, can be read here

May 2011: kiwanja to give technology talk at Aspen Environment Forum has been invited to speak at the 2011 Aspen Environment Forum later this month in Aspen, Colorado. According to the website, “The Forum, in partnership with National Geographic, provides a critical framework for committed voices to address a significant milestone: A global population of seven billion and how to reconcile Earth’s finite resources with its ability to sustain our expanding human needs”. Ken’s contribution will focus on grassroots innovation and the use of appropriate technology to solve local problems. You can read more on the Forum website or in this post-Forum kiwanja blog post. A video of kiwanja’s panel is also available here

May 2011: FrontlineSMS named Buckminster Fuller finalist

After a series of highly competitive judging rounds, FrontlineSMS has made it to the finals of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge, one of only four projects to do so. Described as Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award, the Buckminster Fuller Challenge is an annual international design Challenge awarding $100,000 to support the development and implementation of a strategy that has significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems. According to the website, “it attracts bold, visionary, tangible initiatives focused on a well-defined need of critical importance. Winning solutions are regionally specific yet globally applicable and present a truly comprehensive, anticipatory, integrated approach to solving the world’s complex problems”. The winner will be announced at a special ceremony in early June. More via the Challenge website here

April 2011: FrontlineSMS in the Nigerian Presidential elections

For the second election running, FrontlineSMS has been used by Nigerian civil society to help with citizen monitoring (the 2007 story was reported on the BBC). With the 2011 elections, Ushahidi was used to map incoming texts, tweets and online reports. Interviews with users and further information on the wider use of social media in the elections can be read on our National Geographic “Mobile Message” series

April 2011: Ken Banks interviewed by the Royal Geographic Society

As part of preparations for their “Digital Technology in Africa” event next month, the Royal Geographic Society recently interviewed kiwanja’s Ken Banks on the role and impact of mobile technology in Africa. The interview was broken into a series of short videos, which can be viewed on the RGS website here. Next month’s event – on 18th May – features Nicholas Negroponte, Erik Hersman and Herman Chinery-Hesse, and will be chaired by Sir Bob Geldof

April 2011: FrontlineSMS at Rutberg Summit in London this month

Rutberg Summit: London 2011 is a forward-looking, two-day, invitation-only forum for senior executives to discuss and debate the technology, ideas, and trends driving the global business of mobile, with a sharp lens on business across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Ken Banks will attend to talk about our work with FrontlineSMS. More on the Summit website

April 2011: Online UNESCO/WSIS debate on mobiles for development

“Do mobile phones contribute more to social impact than to economic impact in developing countries?”. This is the question being asked over the next couple of weeks as part of an online debate being hosted by UNESCO/WSIS. Contributors to the public debate include Rich Ling, Abi Jagun, Jenny Aker and Ken Banks, among others. You can follow the discussion here

April 2011: Ken Banks awarded Ashoka Fellowship

“Ashoka is the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs – men and women with system changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems. Since 1981, Ashoka has elected over 2,000 leading social entrepreneurs as Ashoka Fellows, providing them with living stipends, professional support, and access to a global network of peers in 70 countries”. At a ceremony in London late last month, Ken Banks joined five other newly elected Ashoka UK Fellows to profile his work and meet members of the Ashoka Network. Full details, along with a short video, are available on the Ashoka website

April 2011: “Build it Kenny” nominated for top blogging Award

The Blog – “Build it Kenny, and they will come…” has been nominated in the Best use of technology for social good category of the 2011 BOBs. The Deutsche Welle International Blog Awards – The BOBs – honours websites in eleven languages that champion the open exchange of ideas and freedom of expression. According to their website, “The BOBs represent one of Deutshe Welle’s ongoing efforts to contribute to promoting freedom of expression and the upholding of human rights around the world”. Further details here

March 2011: FrontlineSMS featured in Mobile Monday “Africa” report

FrontlineSMS has been featured in a new Mobile Monday publication, “Mobile Africa Report 2011: Regional Hubs of Excellence and Innovation”. The report gives a snapshot of the African mobile technology landscape, and looks at issues of infrastructure, business models, marketing and the socio-economic impact of the technology. The full report, in PDF format, can be downloaded here

March 2011: FrontlineSMS scoops “public interest” software Award

Later this month, kiwanja’s Ken Banks will attend the annual NTEN conference in Washington DC to collect the 2011 Pizzigati Prize. Established in 2006, the Antonio Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest annually awards $10,000 to a software developer who adds significant value to the non-profit sector and movements for social change. The Pizzigati Prize honours the brief life of Tony Pizzigati, an early advocate of open source computing. You can read more on the Award via a National Geographic news item posted on the day of the announcement

February 2011: kiwanja helps judge GSMA’s mWomen App Challenge

According to the website, the GSMA mWomen Mobile App Challenge “aims to leverage the significant demand for innovative application design and provide original and fresh customised solutions targeted at the specific needs of women in developing countries”. The Challenge focused on both low-end and smart phone applications, with the winners announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. kiwanja’s Ken Banks was an invited judge for the Challenge, along with Jan Chipchase (frog design), Chris Locke (GSMA), Rebecca Parsons (Thoughtworks)  and Jenny Aker (Tufts University). Full details on the mWomen App Challenge website

February 2011: Guest Guardian post on Mobile World Congress

Following an appearance at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and a brief blog entry of thoughts, kiwanja’s Ken Banks was asked to contribute a more detailed post to the Guardian “Poverty Matters” blog. You can read the short article, and comments, here

January 2011: FrontlineSMS featured in Economist

FrontlineSMS gets a brief mention in a recent article in the Economist covering the use of mobile phones and services in the developing world. The full article, which also appeared in the print edition of the magazine, can be read here

January 2011: FrontlineSMS at Global Competitiveness Forum

The Founder of FrontlineSMS, Ken Banks, will be speaking on a panel at the Global Competitiveness Forum later this month in Saudi Arabia. The Forum – the only event of its kind – is “an annual meeting of global business leaders, international political leaders, and selected intellectuals and journalists brought together to create a dialogue with respect to the positive impact organizational and national competitiveness can have on local, regional and global economic and social development”. Ken will be speaking on the “Conscious Capitalism” panel with the CEO of the Skoll Foundation, the CEO of The Elders, and good friend Bright Simons, among others

January 2011: FrontlineSMS featured in Kenya’s Daily Nation

A project which aims to map Korogocho slum in Nairobi, an area with about 200,000 people, is using FrontlineSMS to allow people to text in information to help identify streets, key structures and landmarks that were previously not mapped onto Google Maps. Further details on the project are available in this Daily Nation article

January 2011: Ken Banks column in Guardian’s “Global Development”

Ken Banks was invited to submit a brief article to the Guardian’s Global Development site, reflecting on the past year in ICT4D. The article – “Technology’s role in fighting poverty is still ripe for discussion” – was published earlier this month on the Poverty Matters Blog, and can be read here

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