Mobile Applications for Atrocity Prevention Require Mobile Students

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Interested in learning about Mobile Phones for International Development? Early bird registration for our next class ends on February 25, 2013! Apply Now.

Last week, the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) published an article by Linda Raftree and TechChange Founder Nick Martin about challenges we saw upcoming in this field around mobile education (What’s Holding Back Mobile Phones for Education? (2/11/2013)).  But last week also marked the announcement of the winners for The Tech Challenge for Atrocity on “Capture.” What both of these events have in common is that they are entirely about the possibility of mobile phones to address global challenges.

According to the website, the Tech Challenge “sought new and innovative ways to enable the documentation of relevant evidence that may be used to deter or hold perpetrators accountable, while minimizing the risk posed to those collecting this information. These winning submissions were chosen on the basis of impact, innovation, scalability and feasibility.” Not surprisingly, the top three awards all went to mobile applications: MediCapt, Silent Lens, and International Evidence Locker.

If you haven’t learned about these innovative projects, we recommend that you head over to the USAID Blog or Humanity United and check them out. In particular, we’d like to congratulate our partners and friends on the Magpi team for their role in InformaCam, which claimed first prize in partnership with Physicians for Human Rights and InformaCam for developing MediCapt. According to Humanity United blog, “[t]his mobile app will equip doctors and nurses with critical tools for collecting, documenting and preserving court-admissible forensic evidence of mass atrocities including sexual violence and torture.”

But while these exciting tools promise new capabilities in atrocity prevention, the SSIR article we wrote also cautions not to take a tech-centric approach to problem solving. The success these tools will have once they are out of development don’t just depend on the latest features, but being in the hands of those who can skillfully apply their potential to the problems at hand. Sooner or later, all technology problems become education problems.

Shameless plug: For those who are unfamiliar with Magpi, please check out our blog post on Goodbye Episurveyor: Hello Magpi!, which lays out more detail on this tool. Or you can check out our video below:

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