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A Free Catalogue of Affordable ICT4D Options

By Guest Writer on February 4, 2015


Smaller nonprofits and social enterprises often report outdated, small-scale data on their social impact to their donors and stakeholders. Instead, what if they had an affordable way to report real-time, large-scale data on their results? This question inspired Kopernik to create the Impact Tracker Technologies Catalogue in online and print forms.

Organizations are under pressure to measure their performance and results. Yet, while both supply and demand for ICT-based tools exist, nonprofits and social enterprises often fail to take advantage of them.

The issue is access. There isn’t a central marketplace at which organizations can access ICT-based tools and come to understand their pros and cons as well as their applications to specific needs.

The other issue is technical language. ‘Free and open source’ doesn’t mean no-cost, turn-key solutions ready for immediate deployment.

A User-Friendly Catalogue Showing Options and Recommendations

In addition to addressing these gaps, Kopernik, an Indonesia-based NGO connecting simple technology with last mile communities to reduce poverty, created a catalogue that goes a step further by providing recommendations that assist users make decisions in some categories of tools (i.e. digital data collection apps and SMS communication platforms). Beyond these targeted recommendations, the catalogue displays all relevant research findings so that users can draw your own comparisons.

This field of impact tracker technology is dynamic and fast-moving. New tools come out on the market on a regular basis. Existing tools frequently expand their features to cater to users’ needs and challenge their competitors. Given this dynamism, the online version of catalogue will be updated as regularly as possible.

What Are the Catalogue’s Highlights?

1. Digital Data Collection Apps – No More Paper-Based Surveys

Digital data collection apps are solutions to eliminate paper surveys in the field and reduce the time it takes to compile data. These apps work on smart phones and tablets, allowing for easy and robust data collection. They often allow users to develop digital questionnaires using a pre-programmed form builder, deploy these forms to mobile devices, collect data on devices, and sync forms with the cloud when connected to a data network. Of the 12 tools featured in this category, our top recommendations include Magpi, Commcare, and iFormBuilder, which are user-friendly, affordable, and comprehensive in their features.

2. SMS Communication Platforms – Keep in Touch with Your Remote Clients

The SMS communication category features tools that can efficiently manage large-scale communications with clients and beneficiaries through SMS so that organizations can reduce the number of phone calls and physical visits to project sites. Many of these platforms are cloud-based and can be accessed using any web browser straight from your computer, as well as via the platform’s dedicated Android apps where available. Our top recommendations include TextIt and Telerivet, which offer the most comprehensive sets of features that can be easily set up by users with limited IT knowledge.

3. Geospatial Mapping Tools – Visual Information at Your Fingertips

Geospatial mapping tools enable users to visually compile information from various sources in the form of a map. These maps are useful for tracking information, analyzing data, and presenting updates. The catalogue features four geospatial apps that are particularly designed for the humanitarian and development contexts.

4. Remote Sensors – Additional Eyes and Ears in the Field

The remote sensors category features low-power and low-maintenance remote sensors used to monitor and measure the use of cook stoves, water filters and other devices, as well as to evaluate changes in environmental conditions. These sensors were developed to address the challenges in collecting unbiased and precise data on technology adoption and program interventions. Taking advantage of growing access to the Internet and sliding costs of IT components, many of the sensors have the capability to send data wirelessly with very minimal Internet connectivity. This eliminates the need to physically go to the field and download data from the devices. Each featured sensor measures something particular such as stove usage, air quality, and forest logging.

To see the online catalogue, please click here.

Tomohiro Hamakawa is the Principal Investigator of this impact tracker technology work and serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at Kopernik responsible for its performance measurement function and advisory services. Kopernik delivers simple, life-changing technologies to last mile communities to reduce poverty.

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One Comment to “A Free Catalogue of Affordable ICT4D Options”

  1. Tony Roberts says:

    Independent reviews of ICT4D tools are much needed and Kopernick’s offering in this regard is extremely useful. I will share it widely. I do however want to take issue with the claim in this advertisement for Kopernick that “the issue is access … and technical language”. Whilst comparative information about ICT4D tools is highly valuable it is no silver bullet. Twenty years of ICT4D experience has made it clear that the issues go beyond access to tools. Choosing the right tool does not, for example, imply that the capacity to make what Mike Gurstein calls “effective use” of the tool. Having the right tools is not the issue. At most having access to the right tool is 15% of the issue. The majority of the work (and cost) of human development is the on-going process of building people’s agency and critical capabilites to make effective apply technology, knowledge and human resources in producing developments that they have reason to value.