From Third World to World Class – Through Virtual Conferencing

May 2nd, 2017 by ali Leave a reply »

How new technologies in general,  and video conferencing in particular, can address many traditional problems of third world countries in less than no time.

There are some basilar services that are taken  for granted in the US  or western Europe,  but that are often missing in a town ofthe third world, like uninterrupted electricity or water supplies. In Nepal, for example, people are extremely pleased when they get continual electricity supplies for eight hours a day. In most African countries, the fulfillment of a simple task as going to the post office can be extremely challenging and time-demanding due to the poor state of roads. In the Philippines, the state of toilets in public schools is so poor that students meet great difficulties in doing their business in the bathroom.

However, the situation of public services has been slowly improving even in the poorest areas of the world thanks to technology in the last few years. The combination of mobiles, mobile apps and virtual conferencing has proved to be a great strategy to tackle many problems connected to distance, bad transportation and lack of a proper network to dispatch electricity. In this way, implementing good levels of governance become possible even in the worst possible conditions.

A smart example of the results that a wise use of technology allows government to obtain is given by mSurvey, a program launched in the Democratic Republic of Congo to improve democracy and participation. Being 65 % covered by rainforests, this African country has the typical problem of difficult transportation that makes travelling and consulting people extremely difficult. The solution has been to develop a mobile app though which citizens can obtain information about budget meetings. In this way, they can vote online and check what was decided simply by using their mobiles. They can also remind local authorities of their commitments and press them to take actions to fulfill people’s needs.

The success of MSurvey is not surprising. In many areas of the third world, it is easier to make a mobile work than continual electric light or water supply. On the other hand, a virtual conferencing product like R-HUB`s TurboMeeting (http://www.rhubcom.com) allows a charity or a municipality to implement a local consultation system with the population safely and inexpensively. Being plug and play devices, the servers of the TurboMeeting suite do not need a devoted IT team; they are compatible with the existing main operating system for mobiles, and their graphic interface is optimized for small screens.

In Brazil, the State of Rio Grande do Sul has gone even further. Through the joint use of their mobiles and video conferencing, citizens can actively co-design solutions to address specific problems of their town or village. The “Governor asks” initiative has allowed more than 60.000 people to submit proposals and feedbacks and even face-to-face meetings with politicians and state officials.

In Kerala, a program called Akshaya makes it easy for citizens to obtain elementary services or documents like their driving license through their mobiles. In Bolivia, Nepal, Ghana and Zambia on Track enables students to report teachers that do not show up for class through a text message.  This mobile app has been developed with the aid of the World Bank with the purpose is to improve public services through a bigger citizen involvement.

What is the secret of this new success of virtual conferencing? In my opinion, the reasons are three: the easiness of implementation, the inexpensiveness, and the use of a common device like the mobile to vehiculate it. While it is difficult for many people to access to facilities like proper housing, mobiles are really at everybody’s reach. And implementing a system of consultation through video conferencing is certainly easier, quicker and cheaper than building roads, bridges and infrastructures.

These are only some few examples of how technology in general, and video conferencing in particular, can be used to improve people’s life. If you wish to learn more about this topic, you are going to find more resources on R-HUB`s blog at http://www.rhubcom.com

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