All Articles Marketing Digital Technology Mobile making a difference: A SXSW roundup

Mobile making a difference: A SXSW roundup

3 min read

Digital Technology

We had two roving correspondents at SXSW Interactive last week in search of fascinating nuggets at the intersection of health and mobile.  Doug Naegele, founder of Infield Communications, and Rebecca Pollack, SmartBrief Editor both contributed to this session roundup.

At ER 2.0, Doug was captivated by FrontlineSMS:Medic, a content management system for mobile messaging that’s used worldwide to bring medical care to rural communities. Created by two Stanford grad students on only a few thousand dollars, the software turns a laptop and a mobile phone into a central communications hub — no Internet required.  In Malawi, rural community leaders use Frontline to send texts to the nearest hospital 50-100 miles away.  Text in a drug name, and Frontline automatically texts back dosage and usage information.  Doctors report saving $5,000 per year in fuel costs and are able to care for twice as many patients. Bravo!

Handheld Awesome Detectors: World Changing Mobile Apps spotlighted a couple remarkable technologies making a difference. Ushahidi, a mobile platform born during the turmoil of the 2008 Kenyan presidential elections, crowdsources information during crises.  Kenyans who witnessed or experienced violence during the election sent SMS texts to Ushahidi’s central server.  The central platform then mapped the incident reports and posted them to the Web for viewing by the international community.  Since then, Ushahidi has been used in South Africa, Congo, Palestine, and Haiti to allow citizens to document and report violence in places where police can’t or won’t.

Also in that session, Doug was impressed by The Extraordinaries an on-demand volunteer service which matches willing helpers with small bits of extra time (think: 10-30 minutes) with charitable organizations.  Via their iPhone App, volunteers can sign-up for a variety of tasks such as translating a single Web page, mapping healthy eating places in a neighborhood, or tagging photos of disaster areas to find missing persons.  Recently volunteers applied 80,000 tags to 8000 photos from Haiti.  Those efforts located 700 missing persons and led to 24 family reunions.  That is awesome.

Rebecca was blown away by the presentation How Telemedicine is Healing Haiti by High Alert International Publisher John Hedtke.  Telemedicine is a collaborative mission, with doctors in the field teaching teams back home what to expect, and experts at home base doing legwork on research and analysis for field personnel.  The cameras they use are “whole telemedicine suites in your hand,” said Hedtke.  Although they require low bandwidth, the camera feature plug-ins that interface with medical equipment for monitoring vitals, touch-screen drawing, and two-way VOIP with built in speakers and mic for voice, messaging and videoconferencing. And if you can believe this, they also interface with digital records systems and are HIPAA compliant.

Truly inspiring mobile technology indeed.

Image Credit, Stephen VanHorn, via Shutterstock