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Open Mobile Consortium launches with open source mobile tools for health and development

From: Katrin Verclas <katrin@mobileactive.org>
Date: Tue, 26 May 2009 09:30:35 -0400
Message-Id: <4D61B739-78BF-4DDF-B20F-936AEF6731F4@mobileactive.org>
To: public-mw4d@w3.org
Dear Colleagues --

We are proud and happy that six months of hard work have paid off -
the Open Mobile Consortium (http://open-mobile.org) has launched
today.  Conceived at MobileActive08 in South Africa, the OMC is
featuring a suite of fully open source mobile applications focused on
health and humanitarian work.  The OMC is an unprecedented
collaboration amongst nine high-profile organizations to develop an
interopable set of platforms of high-quality open source mobile tools
for humanitarian and civil society work.

We invite you to join us to develop high-quality, interoperable, and
fully open source mobile applications for social good.



Here is our press release:

New York, NY – May 26, 2009 – The Open Mobile Consortium today  
launched its global development community to help organizations  
working towards social good to better collaborate and share mobile  
phone-based technologies.  The OMC’s open source software tools help  
organizations to better serve the health, humanitarian and development  
needs of the “bottom billion,” the poorest and most disenfranchised  
citizens of the world.

The Open Mobile Consortium is an unprecedented collaboration across  
organizations to better serve communities with open source mobile  
tools.  Together, they are building a vibrant set of platforms for  
use, at no cost, with no restrictions. OMC members share a vision that  
by working together to drive grassroots mobile technology innovation  
in some of the most challenging, resource-poor environments in the  
world, they will create a simple, flexible, and reliable set of  
technology that enable to individual and organizations anywhere in the  
world to effect social change.

With almost 280 million subscribers in Africa alone, mobile phones are  
recognized as instruments of change in finance, agriculture, media and  
development work. Mobile technology can easily provide data on food  
prices to farmers, patient  information to remote medical clinics, and  
help track supplies and logistics. It is estimated that by 2010, 1 in  
3 Africans will own a mobile phone. The Open Mobile Consortium was  
founded to develop and bring to scale free  and open-source solutions  
that leverage the power and ubiquity of mobile phones.

“OMC’s approach is a radical departure from how the traditional  
humanitarian and development works,” said Robert Kirkpatrick, Chief  
Technology Officer of InSTEDD and chair of OMC. “Typically,  
organizations must compete for funding grants, which frequently leads  
to ‘silo’ mentality and hesitation to fully share key technologies.   
By contrast, we are agreeing to work together to share source code,  
standards, protocols, approaches and lessons learned.  We’re even  
sharing development plans and testing each others’ software.  As a  
result, we’re building a vibrant community and making very rapid  

Katrin Verclas, founder of MobileActive.org and a founding member of  
the Open Mobile Consortium, says, “The mobile technology explosion has  
put more than four billion phones in use around the world.  In the  
hands of organizations working for social good, and with easily  
available and accessible software, mobile phones can significantly  
improve the health and well-being of people in developing countries  
around the world.  But there are technology and collaboration  
barriers. The Open Mobile Consortium aims to eliminate these barriers  
by developing interoperable, free and open source mobile platforms,  
and we encourage others to join us.”

"Mobile technology can make a huge difference in key areas like access  
to health care and education, and UNICEF helped form the Open Mobile  
Consortium to challenge the open-source community to play a role in  
this process," says Erica Kochi, co-lead of UNICEF’s Innovation team.   
“OMC is a forum to pool expertise and develop partnerships to empower  
those most in need and to use mobile technology to improve their lives."

The OMC strives to enable organizations working in the field in  
developing countries to collaborate across disparate platforms and  
products, reduce redundancies, and create a mechanism for freely  
sharing technical tools, information and approaches.

OMC has already brought together a number of mobile technology tools  
for collaboration and sharing.  These include, among others:

     * CommCare, a mobile-phone based application that allows  
community health workers to provide better, more efficient care and  
improve coordination of community health programs;
     * Mobilisr, an open source enterprise class mobile messaging  
platform for NGOs around the world;
     * Mesh4X, a platform for seamless cross-organizational  
information sharing between mobile devices, databases, desktop  
applications, and websites;
     * RapidSMS, an open source platform allowing for any mobile phone  
to use SMS to collect data, used in Malawi, Ethiopia and Nigeria to  
collect information and provide rapid feedback to field workers;
     * GeoChat, a flexible open source group communications tool that  
enables mobile field communications and situational awareness during  
     * Ushahidi, a web-based platform that any person or organization  
can use to set up their own way to collect and visualize information.

About the Open Mobile Consortium

The Open Mobile Consortium is a thriving community of mobile  
technologists and practitioners working to drive open source mobile  
solutions for more effective and efficient humanitarian relief and  
global social development. Founding member organizations include  
Millennium Villages Project, Cell Life, Dimagi, D-Tree, InSTEDD,  
MobileActive, TextToChange, UNICEF and Ushahidi.  We are at http://www.open-mobile.org 

Katrin Verclas
Co-Founder and Editor
+ 1 413 687 9877
skype: katrinskaya

Read the latest about mobiles in social change work at http://mobileactive.org
Received on Tuesday, 26 May 2009 13:31:13 UTC

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