Global Mobile

Over four billion people on earth now own a mobile phone, and in many parts of the world, mobile networks are leapfrogging the traditional landline infrastructure. It is our argument that the rapid, widespread adoption of simple, powerful handsets, combined with the spread of a high-speed mobile network has tied the globe into a single communications network, creating the foundation for a mobile revolution.

Global Mobile is a new program of NDN and the New Policy Institute that seeks to better understand how the global information and communications network is changing societies and improving lives around the world. We are dedicated to exploring the ways this network can create economic growth, improve public health, enhance education, change media, and strengthen democracies around the globe.

This new program builds on years of work by NDN on the role of technology in politics and the American way of life. For our latest work on this subject, keep up with the Global Mobile blog. Below are the highlights of our work in this space.


Information and Communication Technology in Mexican Civil Society 1/20/11: By Sam duPont This paper is an investigation into how Mexican civil society-- the civic organizations and social movements that exist separate from government and the private sector-- has employed network technologies to enhance and improve its work of creating positive social change

Connection Technologies in U.S. Foreign Policy 9/10/10: By Sam duPont This paper is an overview of the State Department's use of new technology in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, with a focus on the "21st Century Statecraft" and "Internet Freedom" initiatives.

Digital Diplomacy 8/3/10: By Sam duPont Writing in Foreign Policy, Sam duPont interprets the U.S. State Department's "21st Century Statecraft" initiative as a bold attempt to take advantage of the potential offered by new connection technologies.

Harnessing the Mobile Revolution 10/8/08: By Tom Kalil Tom Kalil, now Deputy Policy Director of Science and Technology at the White House, authored a paper for the New Policy Institute (an NDN affiliate) last year, analyzing the power of mobile to create economic growth, better public health, and stronger democracies in the developing world.

Tapping the Resources of America's Community Colleges 7/26/07: By Dr. Rob Shapiro This modest policy proposal by Dr. Rob Shapiro, Chair of NDN's Globalization Initiative, recommends offering free computer training for all American workers through the computer labs of our nation's community colleges. This proposal was adopted into legislation authored by House Democratic Caucus Chair John Larson, and will likely become law in the near future.

A Laptop in Every Backpack 05/01/07: By Alec Ross and Simon Rosenberg Alec Ross, now Senior Adviser on Innovation to the Secretary of State, co-authored this paper with Simon Rosenberg, in which they argued that connectivity to the global information network has become an essential part of life in the 21st century, and called for a “A Laptop in Every Backpack” to prepare our children for this new world.


Public Diplomacy and Social Media in Latin America 3/29/11 NDN & NPI co-hosted a forum with SAIS to discuss how social media and other new technologies are affecting diplomacy, politics and governance in Latin America. Under Secretary of State Judith McHale delivered the keynote address.

Advancing Internet Freedom: Tackling Barriers to the Global Free Flow of Information 7/20/10 On July 20, 2010, Global Mobile, NDN, and the New Policy Institute hosted a conversation about practical approaches to internet freedom and the global free flow of information.

Freedom in the 21st Century: Connection Technologies in Open & Closed Societies 4/12/10 On Monday, April 12, Alec Ross, Senior Adviser on Innovation to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, will deliver a speech at NDN & the New Policy Institute on the role of connection technologies in open and closed societies.

Transparency, Accountability, Collaboration: Open Government in the U.S. and the U.K . 2/19/10 Global Mobile hosted  a lunchtime conversation about the changes the open government initiatives in the U.S. and the U.K. are ushering in with Andrew McLaughlin, Deputy Chief Technology Officer at the White House and James Crabtree, an editor at Prospect Magazine in Britain.

"Twitter, Iran, and More: Impressions from the Front Lines of the Global Media Revolution" 7/15/09: In this discussion of the role of Twitter in politics and media, we hosted Nico Pitney, the Huffington Post reporter who brought the voices of Iranian protesters out into the open, and Eric Jaye and Theo Yedinsky of Gavin Newsom's groundbreaking gubernatorial campaign in California.

New Policy Institute & NDN Help Promote Breakthrough Report on mHealth 6/26/09: NDN co-hosted the release of a new paper jointly published by the UN Foundation and the Vodaphone Foundation examining the potential for mobile technology to improve healthcare delivery in the developing world. Speaking at the event were Alec Ross, Tom Kalil, and former U.S. Senator Tim Wirth. Simon Rosenberg hosted the discussion.

Douglas Alexander on Conflict, Fragility, and International Development 4/27/09: British MP Douglas Alexander joined NDN at the Harvard Club of New York for a frank discussion of the role of local politics in international development. As Secretary of State for International Development, Alexander runs DFID, the British development agency, and he spoke on the relationship between conflict, fragility, and development, particularly in Afghanistan.


Global Mobile A look at how mobile technology is changing our world, and improving economic development, health, education, and every other part of societies around the world.

Invite: Tues, Nov 15th, Noon - Tips on Using Social Media For Advocacy with Facebook, Google & Twitter

For those in the advocacy business, managing the very rapid transformation of media has become one of this challenging and volatile era’s greatest challenges.   So much is changing at once – the rise of the internet, the growing power of mobile and apps, the emergence of not just new but social media, and the relative decline of 20th century media including newspapers, radio and television.    The shear power of this new media is empowering activists around the world, and here at home, but like anything changing with great velocity also offers leaders some very real difficulties to be managed. 

To reflect on these changes, and to help our community plan for how people are communicating today, and tomorrow, we will be hosting a series of events in the months ahead.  Our very fist one will be Tuesday, November 15th, and it will be a terrific one.  I will moderate a discussion with very able representatives from three of the most powerful actors in this new world – Twitter, Facebook and Google (Google rep to be announced soon). 

Space is limited for this event and RSVPs will be honored on a first come, first served basis – so RSVP today, and I look forward to seeing you on the 15th.

The Event:

A Discussion About Social Media and Advocacy

With Adam Conner of Facebook, Adam Sharp of Twitter & Andrew Roos of Google, moderated by Simon Rosenberg. 

Tuesday November 15th, Noon.

NDN Event Space, 729 15th Street, 1st Floor, Washington, DC.

"Global Mobile" Weekly Roundup- June 24, 2011

President Obama visited Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center today to speak on technology, innovation, and a renaissance of American manufacturing.  The full text of the speech can be found here.

On mobile technology and health:

A post by Marissa Glauberman on ONE blog details the accomplishments of the partnership between the United Nations Foundation (UNF) and the Vodafone Foundation in their efforts to use mobile technology to improve health care in developing countries.

Below is an interview with Awa Dieng of, a Kenya-based companythat invented a data compilation and sharing software called EpiSurveyor that is greatly increasing efficiency in developing countries' healthcare providers in responding to health threats:

This post was part of a series within another ONE blog that is definitely worth keeping track of it you're interested in mobile technology's role in development: "Digital Africa"

Another article on mobile technology's uses in global health initiatives (which is very much worth reading for examples of other organizations and other innovations) reported the statistic:

Of the 114 countries surveyed by the World Health Organization, only 19 did not use some form of mobile health technology

On wireless technology and Asia:

According to an article for ZD Net Asia by Liau Yun Qing, Long Term Evolution (LTE) rollouts in the Asia-Pacific region are ongoing and the 4G technology is fast becoming mainstream.  Alan Hadden, president of GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association) is quoted as saying:

...the Asia region is "consistently in the forefront of mobile communications industry developments and this will continue"

On the rise of "SoLoMo" (Social, Location, Mobile) startups and what more traditional businesses should do in response:

According to Bruce LeSourd writing for iMedia Connection in association with Apple:

A new industry of SoLoMo startups has appeared in the last two years, built from the ground up to exploit the convergence of people, information, services, things, and places on modern mobile platforms.

LeSourd goes on to explain the impact this will have on the way traditional "brick-and mortar" companies do business and then lays out a list of recommendations for remaining competitive, all of which can be found in the full article here.

And finally, on mobile mobile technology:

An article by Jonathan Oosting for on mobile technology inside vehicles and why it's a high-risk, high-reward game to be playing.


"Global Mobile" Weekly Roundup- June 17, 2011

Sam duPont, former director of NDN's Global Mobile program wrote an interesting post on the New York Times on interenet freedom. The link to his blog (with the post and all his beautiful pictures of the Phillippines) is here

According to a New York Times article last week, the preeminent position Nokia has enjoyed in emerging marketes is now being threatened by companies like ZTE of China and Micromax of India.  Even small, no-name firms from China are getting a large share of the market.  According to Geoff Blaber, an analyst with CSS Insight (a mobile communications research firm in London):

Three years ago Nokia’s position in emerging markets looked impenetrable, but low-cost chip sets and growing scale has helped a number of Asian manufacturers to price aggressively and seize market share

Yesterday the World Bank, in partnership with mobile handset maker, Nokia, the Finnish Government and iHub Consortium,  opened a new incubation facility for entrepreneurs and innovators in the field of mobile technology in Nairobi, Kenya called m-Lab East Africa.  According to World Bank Director, Johannes Zutt:

"In Kenya, it's clear is a lot of potential in ICT...We are working with Kenya to promote areas where we think it will flourish - tourism and ICT."

Finnish Ambassador, Heli Sirve, agrees, saying:

I hope that m-Lab will succeed in generating new mobile applications and improve people's lives in Kenya and East Africa"

In another article by Ronald Njorge, Zutt adds:

"Other developing countries such as India have developed a world class Information Technology (IT) industry and there is no reason Kenya should not develop if entrepreneurs are provided with the right environment."

CNN is planning to air a fascinating-looking program called "iRevolution: Online Warriors of the Arab Spring," this Sunday at 8pm Eastern Standard Time.  Looks like it might be worth tuning in to.  The CNN article by Gabe LaMonica and Taryn Fixel on the program and on the topic of the role of technology in revolutions in general can be found here.

A story on by Julie Frederikse calls for the assessment of the role mobile teechnology can play in health.  The story is definitely worth checking out and can be found here.

Finally, a nice little blog post by Jonas Landgren on one of the main benefits that the spread of mobile technology across the globe has to offer: improving emergency and disaster responses.


The 21st-Century Mobile Military

Last month, the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) teamed up with the National Institute for Standards and Technology to announce a new Android-based smartphone which helps members of the military conduct real-time translation on the ground in Afghanistan. TRANSTAC (TRANSlation system for TACtical use) is equipped with sophisticated voice recognition software capable of translating between English, Pashto, Dari, and Iraqi Arabic, so it promises to provide far-reaching and valuable assistance to troops in the battlefield.

TRANSTAC presents just one example of the rapid adoption of mobile technology in the military. Several other applications have emerged over the years, and it’s worth taking a look at what’s out there -- and what’s to come:

This month at Fort Bliss in Texas, soldiers have been allocated Kindle e-reader books to serve as electronic user manuals. Currently, reports Bob Brewin of NextGov, the U.S. Army administers bulky paper copies of operations manuals through an inefficient process which is made redundant every time a new version of the equipment is released. Through a mobile network, says Brewin, updated e-manuals can be delivered in the battlefield cheaply and more efficiently through the adoption of Kindles.

Late last year, defense contractor Raytheon released the Raytheon Android Tactical System (RATS) to provide real-time intelligence to soldiers in the battlefield. Equipped with the software, soldiers can view satellite feeds of their terrain, interface between various forms of communication, transmit intelligence data and photos, and track up to twenty of their compatriots using GPS.

Michael Bostic at Police Magazine illustrates RATS’ implications:

Imagine a 10-officer team staking out a group of suspects from several locations simultaneously. Now, imagine the supervisor and team can observe each others' movements, simultaneously communicate via text message and call up a map of an entire building that suspects are about to to enter... you can be a part of the force from wherever you are, with your phone receiving all the same real-time information as your team in the field.

Continuing with this trend, DARPA just recently announced the winners of its Apps for Army contest (A4A), which challenged servicemembers to create 21st-century mobile solutions to aid U.S. troops abroad. The winning submissions include a rigorous military-specific iPhone physical training app and an Android-based utility to help the military coordinate humanitarian and disaster relief programs using Google Earth.

TRANSTAC, RATS, and A4A demonstrate how mobile technology is rapidly integrating with military processes. Earlier this year, for example, the U.S. Army released its first official iPhone app which provides links to the Army’s blogs, games for users to test their military skills, and a comprehensive military facts database. The app, dubbed U.S. Army News and Information, reveals how mobile technology is transforming military recruitment efforts at home just as it is changing the landscape in the battlefield.

Incorporating mobile phones into the military brings with it a particularly unique set of challenges.
First, network strength and reliability become life-or-death issues in the battlefield, since soldiers in action can’t afford to lose signal in rugged terrain or rural areas. A brand-new technology developed by Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), set to hit the ground in Afghanistan later this year, addresses the network reliability issue by providing portable, secure, 3G wireless network “nodes” to combat units spread throughout the country. Lockheed and xG Technology are also pursuing military-grade wireless network solutions.

Another critical challenge is finding a power source for these mobile technologies in areas where reliable access to juice is few and far between. To keep batteries charged, some companies are exploring “solar backpacks” equipped with lightweight solar cells to efficiently and reliably keep their mobile technology charged and ready-to-go.

As the world begins to reckon with modern technology and devices, military forces have witnessed the power of mobile tech to transform the way they mold their strategy abroad and within our borders. As innovation in the space continues, the “mobile military” of the 21st-century reminds us that global mobile technology’s applications and potential to improve daily life are widespread and ever-growing.

This Week in Global Mobile | September 24, 2010

At times it's difficult to keep pace with the latest global mobile developments. I hope this selection of news stories from the past week will help you navigate the growing global network of connectivity:

  • IBM announced plans to back a Kenyan initiative to provide rural areas with computer services by providing support for the Digital Villages program created in 2008.
  • Google released the Transparency Report, an interactive map which tracks requests from governments around the world who request that Google take down or censor content.
  • Internet at Liberty 2010, an event sponsored by Google and the Central European University in Budapest, gathered this week to address the boundaries of online free expression. Our very own Sam DuPont is at the conference and reports back here.
  • Hossein Derakhshan, a Canadian-Iranian blogger who rose to fame for his arrest in Iran after translating to Persian, is now facing the death sentence for “collaborating with enemy states” through various online outlets.
  • Speaking before the UN General Assembly yesterday, President Obama promised to continue to “promote new tools of communication...and a free and open Internet.”
  • Patrick Meier at iRevolution reviews a recent study released by Yahoo which validates the veracity of Tweets following Chile’s earthquake, conluding that the Twitter community “works like a collaborative filter of information.”
  • Dataix reports that the mobile subscriber base in Egypt soared past 60 million last month, representing a 25% year-on-year increase in a country with 80 million people.
  • Gearing up for the midterm elections, Google introduced a high-powered digital tool which tracks daily changes in red and blue states across the country.
  • Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has turned to Facebook and YouTube videos as part of his campaign for re-election -- just days after using the social network to announce his candidacy.
  • A new Android app created by scientists at the University of California School of Engineering asks users to take photographs of the air around them, which are scanned by the app in order to analyze and map air pollution levels.
  • Finnish analytics companies Zokem examined usage of 6.5 million smartphones around the world, concluding that smartphone users spend 300 minutes a month browsing the mobile Web -- a number that’s comparable to traditional voice usage.
  • While Internet-enabled mobile devices in Africa remain few and far between, Yu telecom company just released a new platform which allows subscribers without smartphones to access e-mail over the Internet.


This Week in Global Mobile | September 17, 2010

At times it's difficult to keep pace with the latest global mobile developments. I hope this selection of news stories from the past week will help you navigate the growing global network of connectivity:

  • Nokia awarded a million dollar investment to a Nairobi based start-up which provides a comprehensive application for food and retail distributors to manage their companies through their mobile phones.
  • A new South African business allows registered users to send and receive unlimited free SMS messages, generating profit from short advertisements appended to the end of each text.
  • A lieutenant colonel in the British army plans to be the first commanding officer to tweet his daily life from the front lines of Afghanistan, despite security concerns by military officials. The U.S. military only recently reversed a general ban on social media services.
  • The government of Sierra Leone is cracking down on vendors of unregistered SIM cards, calling them a threat to national security. [via Mobile Active]
  • Haystack, a much-heralded anti-censorship tool utilized by Iranian web users to circumvent strict government restrictions, was withdrawn by its developer after it was discovered that Iranian officials may be able to trace citizens through it.
  • Although social media can be used to cross cultural barriers, Global Chaos reminds us that, as is the case with the Armenia-Azerbaijan ethnic conflict, 21st-century peace-building efforts are still susceptible to hackers and cyber-attacks.
  • On Wednesday Dell announced that its electronic medical database system will be fully integrated into its new Android-based Streak tablet in a bid to bring health care into the mobile world.
  • Demonstrating the rapid growth of mobile technology across the world, ComScore revealed that the European smartphone market grew by nearly 50% in the last year alone.
  • At its World 2010 conference, Nokia announced a partnership with Intuit to pioneer a location-based advertising service to help small business owners succeed worldwide through mobile phone marketing.
  • Google’s Chief Legal Officer called for increased pressure against web-censoring governments, whose actions violate human rights and damage U.S. trade interests.
  • Although Internet penetration hovers at low levels throughout Africa, a survey released this week indicates that over 90% of business owners across the continent expect an “Internet revolution” of higher adoption, increased competition, and lower prices in the near future.


This Week in Global Mobile | September 10, 2010

After a brief end-of-summer break, I'm honored to be re-joining the NDN team as a Policy Associate in the Global Mobile Policy Initiative. Over the next few months I'll be picking up right where we left off, blogging about the ever-increasing potential of 21st-century technology throughout the world, and I'm excited to be a part of the growing Global Mobile program.

At times it's difficult to keep pace with the latest global mobile developments. I hope this selection of news stories from the past week will help you navigate the growing global network of connectivity:

  • In an effort to connect active military members with their families back home, Google has teamed up with Blue Star Families to distribute a digital literacy curriculum to military kids, making it easier and safer for them to communicate electronically with their parents serving abroad. 
  • Michael Scott Moore digs into the U.S. Senate's Internet "kill switch" plan and compares it to similar forms of e-censorship employed by governments throughout the West.
  • FrontlineSMS:Legal was launched on Wednesday, using mobile technologies in dispute resolution by bridging access to legal solutions using local networks throughout the developing world.
  • Despite his 84 years, Fidel Castro has emerged from seclusion as an Internet addict, consuming between 200 and 300 Internet news items daily.
  • Organizing for America just released new iPhone and iPad applications which allow users to view interactive maps, share canvassing information, and connect with nearby volunteers.
  • A Japanese journalists held hostage in Afghanistan bewildered his captors by showing them his phone's Twitter app -- and he used it to tweet his way to freedom.
  • Time explains how young Kashmiris are using video and social media to record and distribute videos of violence in order to unite towards independence.
  • As Google's gKenya Conference took off this week, the tech giant and Chinese firm Huawei announced the release of a $100 Android-based mobile phone -- the cheapest smartphone to hit the Kenyan market.
  • According to the FCC's recently-released  biannual report on broadband connections in the U.S., mobile data service subscriptions rose 40% in the first six months of 2010.
  • Google launched Health Speaks, a crowdsourcing initiative in East Africa intended to translate high-quality online health information into local languages to increase accessibility and health quality.
  • Tech company Virtual City rolled out a mobile-based system to track produce from the farm to the supermarket in a bid to improve EU satisfaction in goods imported from Africa.
  • Americans streamed 650% more live video this year than during the last -- amounting to 1.4 billion minutes per month -- according to a new report by ComScore.
  • The U.S. Government plans to work with various institutes to finance a digital library of scholarly research stretching from Morocco to Libya in order to "increase scientific cooperation between between North Africa and the Middle East."
  • Juniper Research estimates that 90 billion mobile banking text messages will be sent in 2015 -- roughly two texts daily per user.
  • The United Nations High Commission on Refugees partnered with various organizations in Africa to provide an SMS-based service which allows refugees to reconnect with family and friends using their mobile phones and an anonymous database.
  • Tweens on Twitter: A hilarious quote from a Twitter employee reveals, "At any given time, Justin Bieber uses 3% of our infrastructure. Racks of servers are dedicated to him."

This Week in Global Mobile | August 13, 2010

At times its difficult to keep pace with all the latest global mobile developments. I hope this selection of news stories from the past week will help you navigate the ever-growing global network of connectivity:

  • On Monday Google and Verizon released a joint policy proposal urging the FCC to protect the open Internet, although it controversially asks for no regulation over all things wireless. Read Sam’s reflections here.
  • Rwandan genocide survivor Samuel Dusengiyumva is leading an initiative to give every school-aged kid in the country a laptop, seeing a knowledge-based society as the way to heal Rwanda.
  • Serbian authorities launched the “Digital Schools” initiative, which allots 650 million Serbian dollars ($790,000US) towards digital labs and classrooms in primary schools.
  • Melissa Ulbricht takes a look at the success of the Freedom Fone and how it helped create participatory radio in Africa.
  • Crowdmap is a new service provided by event-mapping platform Ushahidi which allows people with virtually no coding experience to rapidly deploy Ushahidi in emergencies.
  • A Red Cross survey showed that 74% of Web users “expect response agencies to answer social media calls for help within an hour.”
  • To combat charity fraud in Singapore, a new service allows mobile users to text a shortcode to receive instant verification on whether a charity is authorized to solicit and accept donations.
  • The Guardian’s Micah White discusses how “clicktivism” is ruining leftist activism by reducing social movements to numbers, ads, and mouse clicks.
  • A new storybook iPad app is the first of its kind to include a sign language to make the story accessible to deaf children.
  • A new project led by DARPA and the NIST puts smartphones in the hands of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan to assist with real-time language translation.
  • A new report indicates that, setting aside Americans under age five, the U.S. now has over 100% mobile penetration (be sure to read this great analysis clarifying the relationship between mobile penetration, ownership, and subscriptions).
  • Google’s Korean headquarters were raided by police for gathering and storing user data taken from wi-fi networks.
  • Worldwide mobile device sales grew 13.8% in Q2 2010, driven by lower prices caused by higher competition in the market.

This Week in Global Mobile | August 6, 2010

At times its difficult to keep pace with all the latest global mobile developments. I hope this selection of news stories from the past week will help you navigate the ever-growing global network of connectivity:

  • On Monday Vodafone announced the launch of two Nokia handsets in Kenya, which come pre-loaded with text-to-speech software capable of reading aloud everything from texts to battery life data.
  • Our very own Sam DuPont published a must-read piece on the merits of digital diplomacy in Foreign Policy. Read it here.
  • Vonage released a new iPhone and Android app allowing users to make free mobile calls to anyone on the planet through their Facebook account.
  • The New York City subway plans to equip all 277 stations with mobile and wi-fi connectivity by 2016.
  • Saudi Arabia’s BlackBerry ban begins today, concluding a tumultuous week for the device’s manufacturer in which the UAE, Algeria, India, Lebanon, and the European Union also expressed security concerns over the company’s message encryption. Read Secretary Clinton’s reaction here.
  • Partnering with mGive, the U.S. State Department established an SMS short-code program to help Pakistan flood recovery efforts.
  • The Stanford School of Medicine is providing all incoming first-year medical students with iPads to improve the learning process, while BBC plans on doing the same for its U.K. production staff.
  • Apple patended the iBike, a bicycle designed to fully integrate with personal electronics.
  • Sweden and Denmark top The Economist’s just-released “Digital Economy Rankings,” which for the first time place particular emphasis on ICT connectivity, affordability, and quality.
  • Japan mobile manufacturer Sharp plans to introduce 3D smartphones later this year, viewable without special glasses.
  • On Wednesday, Ushahidi’s crowdsourced event-monitoring platform was employed by during Kenya’s constitutional referendum vote, drawing in over 1,000 reports during the peaceful elections. Read our coverage here.
  • Burkina Faso intends to cover the entire country with a 3G network within ten years.
  • Outrage (and confusion) surrounded yesterday’s net neutrality community when Google and Verizon execs met, apparently to discuss tiered-pricing and content-prioritizing (both Google and Verizon denied the claims). The FCC entered the fray by calling a sudden end to closed-doors meetings with industry giants.
  • ABI Research released a study predicting that 60% (3.8 billion) of global mobile phones will have full Internet browsers by 2015.
  • The FDA just cleared WellDoc’s DiabetesManager system, a mobile health monitoring suite billed as the first of its kind to receive FDA approval to enter the market.

Monitoring the Kenyan Consitutional Referendum

Just hours ago, voting concluded on the constitutional referendum of Kenya. And as is increasingly the case in elections around the world, the crowdsourcing information-gathering Ushahidi platform was again used to monitor the event., (uchaguzi is decision in Swahili), a collaboration of various civil society organizations and over 100 volunteers, synthesized over 1,000 SMS, e-mail, and Twitter reports during the election, sent in by certified monitors and citizens alike. 452 reports indicated “Everything Is Fine,” while “Tensions High” and “Security Issues” were reported a combined 434 times. Over 75% of all reports were verified by official sources. Check out Uchaguzi’s end-of-day report for a full briefing.

With dark memories still burning of the 2007 post-election violence, in which over 1,300 people died following a disputed election count, security at today’s vote was intense. 60,000 police officers were stationed throughout the country, with an additional 10,000 election observers spread out over the 27,000 polling stations, according to the Election Observation Group’s (ELOG) Facebook page.

But perhaps the most important eyes watching over the referendum were those of the 10,000+ viewers world-wide who actively engaged with Uchaguzi through the Internet and the mobile Web. Early this morning, for example, project manager Erik Hersman posted to the Uchaguzi Situation Room blog, asking viewers to help the team update 13,000 polling stations’ data. This allowed people across the planet to participate in today’s Kenyan referendum monitoring process.

Although all signs point towards a peaceful, well-covered vote, Ian Schuler cautions against writing it off as a success too soon, reminding us via Twitter that “reports in 2007 at this point would have been positive too. Trouble was w/ tabulation.” So while all looks good with Uchaguzi, perhaps the real test of its influence will depend on the election’s outcome. What’s guaranteed is that, as was the case today, mobile phones and connectivity will play a crucial role in the coming days.

While you’re waiting for the votes to be counted, check out Jonathan Shuler’s terrific video introduction to the Uchaguzi project and these behind-the-scenes photos of the Situation Room . Also, read up at BBC and Christian Science Monitor for essential background info on Kenya’s constitutional referendum.

Syndicate content