David at the Open Mobile Consortium meeting
(David Kobia, Director of development for Ushahidi, who is currently sitting next to me madly trying to get the French translation version of our DRC deployment going…)

Today and tomorrow, David and I are in New York at the UNICEF offices for the first technical working group meeting of the new Open Mobile Consortium (OMC). The OMC is a group that came about just a month ago at the MobileActive conference in Johannesburg (more here on that).

Items we’re covering on day one:

  • Technology Demos: Different organizations briefly describe current capabilities, limitations, and future directions. Where are they working? At what scale? Who are the partners? A balance of strengths and weaknesses.
  • Pattern Mining: Work towards collecting proven practices from the field.
  • Protocols, Capabilities, and Libraries: Identify common needs and match to implementations.

From the opening introductions, there are representatives from InSTEDD, Cell-Life, Open Rosa, Dimagi, UNICEF, Makarere Univ (Uganda), Southwest Univ (Senegal project), Univ of Southern Maine, Univ of Wash, Google Android, Inveneo and Digital Democracy.

Open Mobile Consortium meeting


What do you do when you don’t have internet connectivity with some of these devices? Disconnected operations. This applies to web (Ushahidi), and mobile (JavaRosa and Android).

SMS technology is not always sufficient to effectively gather information. (lessons learned from RapidSMS in Northern Uganda outbreak of Hepatitis E)

Requiring users to use a special format for SMS text messaging is a big barrier to use.

UNICEF techs have created the Mobile Hacking wiki, well worth getting into.