While blogging, emails, Twitter and the internet are doing a great deal of good getting the news out of what’s going on in Kenya to the rest of the world, I find myself troubled. You see, the communication that needs to be happening is at the grassroots level. Everyday Kenyans do not have access to any of these services.
Let’s put our minds and capabilities towards solving real problems for people beyond the technologically elite.
Take the current state of affairs in Kenya as an example. With every problem comes an opportunity. In this case, we’re talking about finding a way to open up better communications to not just the African digerati and blogosphere, but the everyday Kenyan as well.
The primary means of communication during an emergency in Kenya is via SMS – on their mobile phones. Some of the problems with the current structure of mobile communications in any African region during a crisis:
- Many disbursed one-to-one communications (SMS)
- Lack of reports from people on the ground – traditional media can only cover so much. If there was ever a need for citizen journalism, then this is it. (this goes beyond what Ken talked about in just citizen monitoring of the polls)
With the just the two problems outlined above, it’s possible to see what kind of technology solution might be useful. That’s the type of service and/or platform that we should be building towards. Beyond the usefulness of such a service in a crisis, it would likely be a profitable business venture in less trying times.
Another good tech idea from Ory at Kenyan Pundit:
“Google Earth supposedly shows in great detail where the damage is being done on the ground. It occurs to me that it will be useful to keep a record of this, if one is thinking long-term. For the reconciliation process to occur at the local level the truth of what happened will first have to come out. Guys looking to do something – any techies out there willing to do a mashup of where the violence and destruction is occurring using Google Maps?”