Lauren Pfeifer, ONE’s Transparency and Accountability Research Assistant, discusses how there is an app for everything – even development.
The spread of smart phones like the iPhone in Africa – along with the apps that come with it – is helping to improve the flow of information on the continent. Photo credit: Mirjam van der Berg/ RNW.
Earlier this week, we shared with you Half the Sky: The Game, a Facebook game that presents information and ways to get involved in the world’s toughest development challenges. Using Facebook as a platform is an innovative way to reach new audiences.
Having the game at my fingertips got me thinking about all of the other information accessible through free apps. Over the past few years, so many apps have popped up that there are thousands of jokes about it. In the development space, many of these apps are filling different vacuums. Some provide information that has the potential to make development more transparent, others facilitiate feedback loops where they wouldn’t have existed before, or provide information that allows citizens to hold elected officials accountable. These apps are working 24/7, all around the world.
Six great apps to get you started:
If there’s an organization that knows about “all around the world”, it’s the World Bank. The World Bank isn’t new to the app scene. They have no less than 10 apps covering various aspects of their work, but the one that gives the most comprehensive and up-to-date view of their programs around the globe is the World Bank Finances app (also available for Android).
Available in seven languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese), the app allows you to find nearby projects, and follow them to receive updates. It also includes contract information and the ability to feed back information on data accuracy or corruption. Fully integrated with Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and SMS, the World Bank wants to start conversations about development finance, and they’ve given us all of the information to do it.
Sanjay Pradhan highlighted the World Bank’s Open Data apps last year at TED, but we want to see the conversation extended beyond development circles into global conversations. Tell us what you like best about the World Bank app in the comments below.
USAID has its own awesome app of projects. The USAID Portfolio Map is sortable by country, sector and initiative, so you can always find what you want.
Ushahidi is a highly-regarded open source platform that has been used to create many different maps. Perhaps the most well-known is I Paid A Bribe. With country-specific sites in India, Kenya, Greece, Zimbabwe and Pakistan, and sites coming soon for Azerbaijan, South Africa, Ukraine and Tunisia, I Paid A Bribe produces a geocoded stream of reports, meant to raise awareness about corruption in those countries. As evidence of its versatility, Ushahidi maps include “Tech Hubs in Africa” and “The Cost of Chicken,” which tracks price and origin of chicken around the world. Find your neighborhood here.
A similar app, Anti Mordidas, puts the law into the hands of the citizens, literally. The app makes accessible the Mexico City Transit Code of Conduct. The idea is to arm drivers with information about what is legal, what is not, and the official fines for various violations (along with a handy calculator). With this information, Anti Mordidas hopes to combat corruption through easy dissemination of accurate information.
And of course, we can’t forget the ONE app, which turns your mobile phone into a recruiting tool and keeps you posted on all the latest news in development.
Mobile technology has the potential to make the world smaller than ever, allowing us to get involved in the issues we care about from anywhere on the globe. But despite all of the free apps, not enough people outside development circles are actually using these tools. We hope that someday, that changes. So go explore, get involved, and talk about it with your friends.
Do you use a development-related app? Tell us about your experience in the comments!