Barriers and Solutions in using Mobile For Development: Connecting Directly to Citizens for Scalable Impact
Despite the increasing number of mobile engagement initiatives, few have become scalable long-term successes. For a mobile engagement project to create real impact, affordable and scalable technology is a necessary starting point, but elements of culture, psychology and human design must be considered. In this paper, we identify four prevailing barriers to mobile engagement projects based on VOTO Mobile’s experience providing technical and human support to social organizations in multiple sectors. We examine these barriers by presenting evidence from partner projects, and provide recommendations using both technical and human design elements.
Mobile For Development (M4D) is an emerging field with the potential to revolutionize social and public-sector challenges in health, education, agriculture, project monitoring, and governance, by offering direct two-way communication with constituents at scale through pervasive mobile phone access. Despite the increasing attention paid to mobile engagement projects, there have been few rigorous evaluations performed to assess their impact, and few that have become scalable long term successes. In this paper we examine four prevailing barriers to M4D success based on VOTO Mobile’s experience providing technical and human support to social organizations in multiple sectors. These barriers include:
Literacy, accessibility and technology limitations
Challenges with Mobile Network Operator (MNO) connections
Unreliable delivery and connectivity
Lack of human design knowledge and best practices. We examine these barriers by presenting the experience of our partners, and suggest solutions using both technical and human design elements