Location Based Services

Chromaroma. The Name Doesn’t Matter – It’s Cool!

I’ve never been a gamer. Even back in the days of early Atari, Sega, and Nintendo systems, I never got much beyond the 3rd or 4th level of Super Mario Bros. I just couldn’t bring myself to care about these fantastical worlds. But with today’s technology, games aren’t just about fantasy anymore. They take place in the world around us, intimately integrated with our lives, and we are the very characters in search of points, credits, and check-ins. And I am starting to come around. [vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/22023369 w=400&h=225]

Chromaroma from Mudlark on Vimeo.

I stumbled upon Chromaroma a couple days ago, a mobile app developed by Mudlark in the UK that turns riding The Tube into a social game. Poking around its website, I realized that all games are really just about incentives, and as any self-respecting economist will tell you, people respond to incentives. Chromaroma incentivizes riding public transport by giving riders points for each ride and sending them on missions to “capture” stations and identify unique locations along The Tube (like the station where Jerry Springer was born).

The game excites me not as much for its current use, but for its potential. Transport for London should seize this opportunity to make a public-private partnership. Mudlark now owns some extremely valuable data for the agency (it reminds me a lot of the data collected by San Francisco County Transportation Agency’s CycleTracks app). They can tell you when people travel, where they travel from, where they travel to, and whether they use a diversity of transit lines or mainly rely on it for commuting purposes. Depending on how widespread the game gets, it could even provide a measure of how overcrowded particular lines get – a metric for prioritizing transit investment.

The private sector has clearly seized on the opportunity technology presented to capture ubiquitous travel data. Let’s hope the public sector rides that wave as well.

-          Terra Curtis

Chromaroma. The Name Doesn’t Matter – It’s Cool!

I’ve never been a gamer. Even back in the days of early Atari, Sega, and Nintendo systems, I never got much beyond the 3rd or 4th level of Super Mario Bros. I just couldn’t bring myself to care about these fantastical worlds. But with today’s technology, games aren’t just about fantasy anymore. They take place in the world around us, intimately integrated with our lives, and we are the very characters in search of points, credits, and check-ins. And I am starting to come around. [vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/22023369 w=400&h=225]

Chromaroma from Mudlark on Vimeo.

I stumbled upon Chromaroma a couple days ago, a mobile app developed by Mudlark in the UK that turns riding The Tube into a social game. Poking around its website, I realized that all games are really just about incentives, and as any self-respecting economist will tell you, people respond to incentives. Chromaroma incentivizes riding public transport by giving riders points for each ride and sending them on missions to “capture” stations and identify unique locations along The Tube (like the station where Jerry Springer was born).

The game excites me not as much for its current use, but for its potential. Transport for London should seize this opportunity to make a public-private partnership. Mudlark now owns some extremely valuable data for the agency (it reminds me a lot of the data collected by San Francisco County Transportation Agency’s CycleTracks app). They can tell you when people travel, where they travel from, where they travel to, and whether they use a diversity of transit lines or mainly rely on it for commuting purposes. Depending on how widespread the game gets, it could even provide a measure of how overcrowded particular lines get – a metric for prioritizing transit investment.

The private sector has clearly seized on the opportunity technology presented to capture ubiquitous travel data. Let’s hope the public sector rides that wave as well.

-          Terra Curtis

Experience Stockholm's solution for visually impaired!

If you participate in our Stockholm Summit on Service Innovation in Cities you will have an opportunity to experience e-Adept, a groundbreaking accessibility solution at the cocktail reception taking place at the offices of Astando on May 11th in central Stockholm. E-Adept is a navigation, mobility and accessibility solution developed in partnership with the City of Stockholm. It enables visually impaired persons to navigate the city unattended - including public transport - through real-time urban data and digital map integration.

After several years of user-centric development working closely with visually impaired citizens, a group of users is now piloting e-Adept for 5 weeks as a full-life experience. You will be available to learn first-hand about the radical impact to their daily lives, provide detailed experience accounts.

Further, you will be able to try out the solution as well as meet project leaders from Astando and the City of Stockholm.

  • 161 million people globally would see their lives transformed by e-Adept
  • 30,000 citizens of Barcelona or 380,000 citizens in New York are severely visually impaired
  • E-Adept costs Stockholm only EUR 360,000 per year to maintain and creates EUR 17 million in value for the city
  • Also by Astando is Billy Bike, winner of the Future of Biking call by the City of Copenhagen in 2010
Our Handbook on Service Innovation in Cities covers e-Adept in detail.

Experience Stockholm's solution for visually impaired!

If you participate in our Stockholm Summit on Service Innovation in Cities you will have an opportunity to experience e-Adept, a groundbreaking accessibility solution at the cocktail reception taking place at the offices of Astando on May 11th in central Stockholm. E-Adept is a navigation, mobility and accessibility solution developed in partnership with the City of Stockholm. It enables visually impaired persons to navigate the city unattended - including public transport - through real-time urban data and digital map integration.

After several years of user-centric development working closely with visually impaired citizens, a group of users is now piloting e-Adept for 5 weeks as a full-life experience. You will be available to learn first-hand about the radical impact to their daily lives, provide detailed experience accounts.

Further, you will be able to try out the solution as well as meet project leaders from Astando and the City of Stockholm.

  • 161 million people globally would see their lives transformed by e-Adept
  • 30,000 citizens of Barcelona or 380,000 citizens in New York are severely visually impaired
  • E-Adept costs Stockholm only EUR 360,000 per year to maintain and creates EUR 17 million in value for the city
  • Also by Astando is Billy Bike, winner of the Future of Biking call by the City of Copenhagen in 2010
Our Handbook on Service Innovation in Cities covers e-Adept in detail.

My war on regional digitized road and transport data in Stockholm

During the years 2006 – 2009 when working in the regional public transport I found an lucky opportunity to fill one of my companies most frustrating data black holes with ones and zeros. But you can’t win them all! Listen to my story. You are one year old when you learn to walk, you are five or six when you learn to ride a bike and at least 16 when learning to drive. All of us have as a primary means of traveling - walking (and here I include all in wheelchairs) and even motorists are occasionally forced to leave their car - at least to be able to refuel the car.

Although, since the modern era began, cities has focused on the car's traction, and to be frank , we have built cities such as displacing pedestrians as second-class citizens. When Sweden a few years ago legislated that motorists have an obligation to give way to pedestrians intending to cross the street - then motorists raged and state that this is a traffic hazard!

In wintertime all municipalities in Sweden are carefully plowing the roads. Although, in many of these municipalities leaders has decided that the property owners shall be responsible for clearing snow from sidewalks. How many property owners do you think it is along a normal Swedish roadside - and how likely do you make it a pedestrian is offered a safe and pleasant journey? And bike lanes often proves to be a perfect place for the snow brigade to put aside the snow.

In Sweden, the public exercise of power is highly decentralized and we have a very comprehensive municipal planning monopoly. But there is also very important to have a coherent national road infrastructure. Sweden therefore decided very early that it was important to establish a national database of road network. Yes, that is, the motorist road network, administrated by the National Swedish Road Administration. First on the runway by filling it with content was in fact the forest industry. They used this excellent almost free of charge resource to post their temporary forest roads so that their forest machines and trucks could find their way to all the remote and well hidden places where harvesting is currently underway. See there - an excellent commercial application of one of the society offered national data infrastructures!

In this decentralized Sweden, the municipalities are also responsible for the local road network. Therefore, also the digitization of the local road network has been a local affair and the Swedish Road Administration has therefore never been able to force any municipality neither to gather the data, nor to deliver it anywhere. Of course, the local politicians has limited budgets and if he / she has to choose among local public opinions, the one that demands for digitized road networks has never been particularly vociferous. In fact, even after 14 years of operation, this database NVDB has not yet signed contracts with all Swedish municipalities.

In fact, when NVDB established in 1996, bike lanes were not even on the horizon. Today as the National Traffic Administration offers the possibility after many years of nagging (not the least from me) quite many municipalities have supplied data, but there is still no one offering municipalities an opportunity to store a digitized pedestrian lane database.

I used to work in SL, the Stockholm County Public Transportation Authority, and there I was responsible for the development of Internet and mobile services. Such a core service is the travel planner. SL's network is an integrated intermodal network that spans 26 municipalities and, yes, you already understand the problem. All the county has actually delivered the digitized road network and that means that all players, especially yellow pages business and Garmin and TomTom etc have been able to develop great services. But in public transport you are totally dependent on that the footpaths are digitized - for all public transport passengers must get to and from stations and bus stops. For SL, the lack of an across municipal boundaries associated digitized pedestrian network the travel planner becoming increasingly a problem as customers always expect better and more advanced services.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sw78Pwtg38w&w=425&h=350]

A few years ago when Stockholm won the opportunity to host the ITS World Congress, I saw an opportunity to change this. I put on the top of my (read SL) wish list a coherent and digitized route network for walking and biking. I quite easily in these collaborative surrounding of the National Swedish Road Administration, the National Swedish Rail Administration, The National Swedish Transport Administration, the City of Stockholm, the National Swedish Railway Company and many, many other stakeholders found friends of the mission, realizing the importance of this. Mobility services for people with impairments, police and rescue services must be found to the door even on local private pedestrian areas in closed yards, the postal service must even find doors in the z-axis, so this should be a easy piece, I thought. I built relations with ALL, and all agreed on the importance of access to such data - but no one was willing to either take responsibility or to share responsibility, this includes my former employer.

In despair I went to one of the largest commercial global players in GIS. They had a great interest - to map the inner city of Stockholm on the basis of the business traveler's perspective ... but could not see any profit to make in the mapping of walking paths in the Stockholm archipelago. No luck again.

Finally I found one guy with the same burning fire inside for the same thing as me, he ran the exact same question from one of the largest and leading infrastructure consultancy firms, actually he was the CEO of a large subsidiary specializing in GIS.

Today he is no longer there and still today you cannot find a coherent pedestrian and bicycle road network in this county.

This, ladies and gentlemen, this is my biggest carrier failure. And I indeed take it very personal.

- Åke Lindström, Market Director Kista Science City

My war on regional digitized road and transport data in Stockholm

During the years 2006 – 2009 when working in the regional public transport I found an lucky opportunity to fill one of my companies most frustrating data black holes with ones and zeros. But you can’t win them all! Listen to my story. You are one year old when you learn to walk, you are five or six when you learn to ride a bike and at least 16 when learning to drive. All of us have as a primary means of traveling - walking (and here I include all in wheelchairs) and even motorists are occasionally forced to leave their car - at least to be able to refuel the car.

Although, since the modern era began, cities has focused on the car's traction, and to be frank , we have built cities such as displacing pedestrians as second-class citizens. When Sweden a few years ago legislated that motorists have an obligation to give way to pedestrians intending to cross the street - then motorists raged and state that this is a traffic hazard!

In wintertime all municipalities in Sweden are carefully plowing the roads. Although, in many of these municipalities leaders has decided that the property owners shall be responsible for clearing snow from sidewalks. How many property owners do you think it is along a normal Swedish roadside - and how likely do you make it a pedestrian is offered a safe and pleasant journey? And bike lanes often proves to be a perfect place for the snow brigade to put aside the snow.

In Sweden, the public exercise of power is highly decentralized and we have a very comprehensive municipal planning monopoly. But there is also very important to have a coherent national road infrastructure. Sweden therefore decided very early that it was important to establish a national database of road network. Yes, that is, the motorist road network, administrated by the National Swedish Road Administration. First on the runway by filling it with content was in fact the forest industry. They used this excellent almost free of charge resource to post their temporary forest roads so that their forest machines and trucks could find their way to all the remote and well hidden places where harvesting is currently underway. See there - an excellent commercial application of one of the society offered national data infrastructures!

In this decentralized Sweden, the municipalities are also responsible for the local road network. Therefore, also the digitization of the local road network has been a local affair and the Swedish Road Administration has therefore never been able to force any municipality neither to gather the data, nor to deliver it anywhere. Of course, the local politicians has limited budgets and if he / she has to choose among local public opinions, the one that demands for digitized road networks has never been particularly vociferous. In fact, even after 14 years of operation, this database NVDB has not yet signed contracts with all Swedish municipalities.

In fact, when NVDB established in 1996, bike lanes were not even on the horizon. Today as the National Traffic Administration offers the possibility after many years of nagging (not the least from me) quite many municipalities have supplied data, but there is still no one offering municipalities an opportunity to store a digitized pedestrian lane database.

I used to work in SL, the Stockholm County Public Transportation Authority, and there I was responsible for the development of Internet and mobile services. Such a core service is the travel planner. SL's network is an integrated intermodal network that spans 26 municipalities and, yes, you already understand the problem. All the county has actually delivered the digitized road network and that means that all players, especially yellow pages business and Garmin and TomTom etc have been able to develop great services. But in public transport you are totally dependent on that the footpaths are digitized - for all public transport passengers must get to and from stations and bus stops. For SL, the lack of an across municipal boundaries associated digitized pedestrian network the travel planner becoming increasingly a problem as customers always expect better and more advanced services.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sw78Pwtg38w&w=425&h=350]

A few years ago when Stockholm won the opportunity to host the ITS World Congress, I saw an opportunity to change this. I put on the top of my (read SL) wish list a coherent and digitized route network for walking and biking. I quite easily in these collaborative surrounding of the National Swedish Road Administration, the National Swedish Rail Administration, The National Swedish Transport Administration, the City of Stockholm, the National Swedish Railway Company and many, many other stakeholders found friends of the mission, realizing the importance of this. Mobility services for people with impairments, police and rescue services must be found to the door even on local private pedestrian areas in closed yards, the postal service must even find doors in the z-axis, so this should be a easy piece, I thought. I built relations with ALL, and all agreed on the importance of access to such data - but no one was willing to either take responsibility or to share responsibility, this includes my former employer.

In despair I went to one of the largest commercial global players in GIS. They had a great interest - to map the inner city of Stockholm on the basis of the business traveler's perspective ... but could not see any profit to make in the mapping of walking paths in the Stockholm archipelago. No luck again.

Finally I found one guy with the same burning fire inside for the same thing as me, he ran the exact same question from one of the largest and leading infrastructure consultancy firms, actually he was the CEO of a large subsidiary specializing in GIS.

Today he is no longer there and still today you cannot find a coherent pedestrian and bicycle road network in this county.

This, ladies and gentlemen, this is my biggest carrier failure. And I indeed take it very personal.

- Åke Lindström, Market Director Kista Science City

The Vector Project Visioning Workshop.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsDLzqWGrQk&w=425&h=350] At our Summit on Service Innovation last week in Copenhagen we ran 9 parallel Visioning Workshops, such as the one facilitated by Neil Clavin and Maya Wiseman on their Vector Project Showcase. The above video was edited by Viktorija Prak, a very talented student supporting Neil and Maya in the workshop, in which business leaders, strategists, researchers and cities invented new urban technologies to redefine the role of bikes in our cities.

Copenhagen Picks Billy-Bike Navigation Solution to Pilot the Future

37 companies from around the world have presented solutions for piloting the future of biking in Copenhagen. The winner was announced today at the Copenhagen | Barcelona | Kaohsiung Summit on Service Innovation in Cities by Copenhagen's Health Mayor Ninna Thomsen: a travel plan that displays the most bike-friendly route through town.When more than 36 percent of citizens use their bikes every day to get to work, school or university, Copenhagen also needs a travel plan for cyclists, says the Mayor for Healthcare of Copenhagen, Ninna Thomsen.

Billy Bike was announced today to 20 cities and 50 companies by Health Mayor Ninna Thomsen at the Copenhagen | Barcelona | Kaohsiung Summit on Service Innovation in Cities, as the chosen solution after a 4-month competition. 37 solutions that can improve health, reduce CO2 emissions, and make it easier for citizens to move around the city were submitted from 17 countries in Europe, Asia and North America in response to a call for pilot launched by the City of Copenhagen and Living Labs Global in July.

Astando, the company that first implemented Billy Bike in Stockholm, will now engage in detailed planning meetings to bring the solution to the citizens of Copenhagen for a pilot in 2011. Billy Bike was chosen by a group of evaluators including the City of Copenhagen and the Bicycle Association of Copenhagen. All the world's cities need innovative solutions that make everyday life easier for citizens and call for green choices while allowing for improvements in efficiency of municipal services. There are plenty of companies that develop these solutions, but it is a challenge to get them into service in the city. So we try to push this by bringing together cities and companies together, says Ninna Thomsen.

A product such as Billy Bike has a great potential. For example, we imagine that the home care services in Copenhagen can use it as a tool to get faster and safer around town, just as technology can also be used to help our visually impaired citizens find their way, as they already do in Stockholm today, says Ninna Thomsen.

The Future Bike Call for Pilots has shown that already today many solutions can be found to revolutionise our cities when a city like Copenhagen presents its needs. These are solutions that exist today, helping to reduce the barrier to implementation for cities and opening international opportunities for companies like Astando, that continually invent new urban solutions like Billy Bike affecting the lives of millions of citizens. In the coming months, the pilot will bring this solution to life for the citizens of Copenhagen to build their own opinion and contribute to the future of the city's services.

Shortlist Copenhagen Future Bike Pilot

On behalf of the City of Copenhagen, we would hereby like to inform you about the 6 Showcases that have been shortlisted in the Future Biking pilot call. To learn more about each Showcase, just follow the respective link.

Billy Bike in Copenhagen Stockholm Sweden
City Supported Community Bicycle Shop Austin USA
eMobility Management Tool Eindhoven The Netherlands
HOME TOWN Athens Greece
Little Bicycle-Sheds - Fahrradhaeuschen Hamburg Germany
Wikiloc Urban Routes Girona Spain

Evaluators at the City of Copenhagen has been impressed with the high level of quality and innovation of the 37 submitted pilots from 17 countries in Europe, Asia and North America and will seek to stay in contact with many of the other inspiring Showcases to see how these might fit into the future strategy of the city and relevant activities. The ideal forum to follow up will naturally be the “Copenhagen | Barcelona | Kaohsiung Summit on Service Innovation in Cities” on November 25th where the relevant decision-makers, led by Health Mayor Ninna Thomsen and Andreas Roehl, director of the bicycle programme will be available to pick up the discussion.

Full details will be published shortly!

Shortlist Copenhagen Future Bike Pilot

On behalf of the City of Copenhagen, we would hereby like to inform you about the 6 Showcases that have been shortlisted in the Future Biking pilot call. To learn more about each Showcase, just follow the respective link.

Billy Bike in Copenhagen Stockholm Sweden
City Supported Community Bicycle Shop Austin USA
eMobility Management Tool Eindhoven The Netherlands
HOME TOWN Athens Greece
Little Bicycle-Sheds - Fahrradhaeuschen Hamburg Germany
Wikiloc Urban Routes Girona Spain

Evaluators at the City of Copenhagen has been impressed with the high level of quality and innovation of the 37 submitted pilots from 17 countries in Europe, Asia and North America and will seek to stay in contact with many of the other inspiring Showcases to see how these might fit into the future strategy of the city and relevant activities. The ideal forum to follow up will naturally be the “Copenhagen | Barcelona | Kaohsiung Summit on Service Innovation in Cities” on November 25th where the relevant decision-makers, led by Health Mayor Ninna Thomsen and Andreas Roehl, director of the bicycle programme will be available to pick up the discussion.

Full details will be published shortly!

We partner with Yasmo Live to offer a radically new networking experience

Yasmo Live announced today that it has entered a partnership with Living Labs Global, a pioneering initiative, led by European Cities, with the objective to promote innovation in services and mobility in cities. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWykRwGow1k&w=425&h=350]

Yasmo Live will be offering its on-site networking services to maximise the delegates’ networking opportunities before, during and after the ‘Summit on Service Innovation in Cities’, November 24-25 in Copenhagen, where Yasmo Live will be offering its on-site networking services to maximise the delegates’ networking opportunities before, during and after the event.

Yasmo Live will allow users to search through picture-based profiles of fellow attendees directly on their phones, to identify contacts of interest instantly and to arrange on-the-spot meetings.

Sascha Haselmayer, General Director at Living Labs Global commented: ‘Mobility is a paradigm shift in which the user, as a citizen, professional or visitor, is expecting public and private services to be tailored to his needs, delivered on demand, anywhere. Yasmo Live fits perfectly with our mission to materialise the shift that new technologies are bringing and we are proud to be the early adopters of such an innovative networking tool at our conferences.’

Areti Kampyli, CEO of Yasmo Live, said: ‘We are thrilled to be partnering with Living Labs Global, whose objective is to make service innovation happen, as together we can create a springboard for technologies like Yasmo Live to improve our day-to-day lives.’

About Yasmo Live

Yasmo Live, www.yasmolive.com, is a real-time mobile conferencing tool that allows event attendees to see their fellow participants' profiles on their mobile’s screen at conferences supporting its service. Yasmo Live bridges delegates’ digital and real presence, using their mobile phones to enable them to search and display people's profiles that are physically nearby. It serves as the 'missing link' or 'mutual friend' event attendees wished they had, to help them meet the right people. The company is headquartered in London.

Connecting cities: a Cluster.eu interview with Sascha Haselmayer

Cluster.eu, a great online and published magazine, gave me some challenging questions about our book "Connected Cities: Your 256 Billion Euro Dividend". Read it here - Connecting cities: an interview with Sascha Haselmayer.

Smart Phones as Hotel Keys

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yXd3wS3Acg&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3] Two Holiday Inn hotels in the US have begun a new pilot program that allows guests to check into their hotel rooms and unlock the door itself through their mobile phone. Participants in the MobileKey program are sent a text message containing their room number and a special key code on the day of their reservation. Overall the participating Holiday Inn branches are receiving reviews which range from warm to enthusiastic, many busy clients are thrilled to skip the concierge stop and head right to their room. Watch the Video above to learn exactly how MobileKey works.

Pesinet: Micro-Insurance for Child Health Services in Mali

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=6832695&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0

Flash animation from Anne Roos-Weil on Vimeo.

A nonprofit organization called Pesinet is using mobile phones and a basic java application to change the way that children are treated within the healthcare system in Mali. Though the system is basic enough--healthcare agents provide weekly checkups on children and relay the weekly results through a java-enabled application on their mobile phone to a doctor who then reviews the results--- it's strikes at the core barriers which prevent children from receiving healthcare provision in a timely fashion; The organizations founder, Ann Roos-Weil, identifies the three core barriers as: 1) access to healthcare, in many rural areas in Mali families simply do not have access to healthcare resources. 2) family finances, often times the cost of healthcare itself is prohibitively expensive. 3) An attitude towards healthcare and illness itself, often times families in Mali delay treatment until the illness is extremely advanced. As Roos-Weil puts it in rather stark terms: "In Sub-Sahara Africa you have a very, very high child mortality rate. […] In Mali, where our project is based, one child out of five dies before the age of five. What we realized is that they’re mostly dying because they don’t go to the doctor or the healthcare center early enough."

Creatively enough, the Roos-Weil's solution was to devise a system which addressed each barrier individually. Through the Pesinet program, healthcare agents visit villages on a weekly basis and report on the health of a child to a trained physician through their mobile phones. Moreover, the Pesinet system provides a micro-insurance program in which a family pays a monthly 1 euro fee to participate. In effect this covers the cost of the healthcare agents visit, a visit to the doctor if it is deemed necessary and half the cost of medication should any be prescribed. Lastly, the weekly healthcare agent visits prevent families from waiting too long in the case that a child falls violently ill.

Mobile phones have enabled the program to reach many more children than would have otherwise been possible. According to Roos-Weil "What we found useful in mobile technology is mostly a case of efficiency in the way health workers do their work. Because basically, while using mobile technology you can ensure that the agent is having proximity to families, so she can do the home-based check-up while seeing a lot of children in a short time, which allows the doctor to follow up on a great number of children. Mobile technology, in our case, […] allows a model whereby we can touch a great volume of children while using just one doctor."

To learn more about Pesinet, click here.

Pesinet: Micro-Insurance for Child Health Services in Mali

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=6832695&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0

Flash animation from Anne Roos-Weil on Vimeo.

A nonprofit organization called Pesinet is using mobile phones and a basic java application to change the way that children are treated within the healthcare system in Mali. Though the system is basic enough--healthcare agents provide weekly checkups on children and relay the weekly results through a java-enabled application on their mobile phone to a doctor who then reviews the results--- it's strikes at the core barriers which prevent children from receiving healthcare provision in a timely fashion; The organizations founder, Ann Roos-Weil, identifies the three core barriers as: 1) access to healthcare, in many rural areas in Mali families simply do not have access to healthcare resources. 2) family finances, often times the cost of healthcare itself is prohibitively expensive. 3) An attitude towards healthcare and illness itself, often times families in Mali delay treatment until the illness is extremely advanced. As Roos-Weil puts it in rather stark terms: "In Sub-Sahara Africa you have a very, very high child mortality rate. […] In Mali, where our project is based, one child out of five dies before the age of five. What we realized is that they’re mostly dying because they don’t go to the doctor or the healthcare center early enough."

Creatively enough, the Roos-Weil's solution was to devise a system which addressed each barrier individually. Through the Pesinet program, healthcare agents visit villages on a weekly basis and report on the health of a child to a trained physician through their mobile phones. Moreover, the Pesinet system provides a micro-insurance program in which a family pays a monthly 1 euro fee to participate. In effect this covers the cost of the healthcare agents visit, a visit to the doctor if it is deemed necessary and half the cost of medication should any be prescribed. Lastly, the weekly healthcare agent visits prevent families from waiting too long in the case that a child falls violently ill.

Mobile phones have enabled the program to reach many more children than would have otherwise been possible. According to Roos-Weil "What we found useful in mobile technology is mostly a case of efficiency in the way health workers do their work. Because basically, while using mobile technology you can ensure that the agent is having proximity to families, so she can do the home-based check-up while seeing a lot of children in a short time, which allows the doctor to follow up on a great number of children. Mobile technology, in our case, […] allows a model whereby we can touch a great volume of children while using just one doctor."

To learn more about Pesinet, click here.

More Museum Mobile Apps

For those of you who have enjoyed past posts on mobile museum tour applications---you might find this recent article about mobile museum tours in New York City. While the article doesn't elucidate any particularly new nugget of information, it does give us a comparative glimpse of how these applications can change your ability to control your experience when time is limited or when you've got impatient kids in tow. Enjoy.

Mobile Phone Growth Puts African continent in Limelight

Last month the world welcome its 5 billionth mobile phone subscriber. A closer look at the numbers and growth behind this milestone revealed something a lot of us have been observing for a while: Africa's mobile market is growing at an unprecedented rate. While the continent only lay claim to some 16 million subscribers in 2000, they are now home to half a billion subscribers. Underlying this surge is a trend toward using data services more than voice calls. A study that was released by Ericsson in December of last year indicates that the use of data services will only continue to grow---over the last two years it has grown by 280 percent and this figure is projected to double annually over the next five years. Africa's lack of established first generation telecommunication infrastructure makes it ripe for continued mobile phone growth. This reality coupled with coupled with the development in mobile phone technology such as the 3G network which will enable deployment of advanced applications such as video conferencing, mobile TV services and tele-medicine that require high speed connections, the uptake of mobile phone technology is expected to increase exponentially.

Monitoring your Ageing Parents with Technology

Over the last year, this report has highlighted numerous innovative initiatives involving elderly care. For this reason, I thought I'd feature an article that ran recently on technology and elderly care in the New York Times. The article is valuable in that it not only introduces different ways to bridge elderly-care through technology but it also dissects the challenges of these systems and recognizes the real need to personalize late-life care by providing anecdotal and empirical evidence alike. In some cases technology may simply be too invasive for and elderly parent or in other cases, the individual's lack of mobility might make independent living impossible. Moreover, the article doesn't pretend that technology can ever completely supplement the important role that family, friends and one's community play in maintaining quality of life for an elderly individual. Rather, without being redundant, it gives us an up to date glance at the potential role of technology in late-life care.

The Case of Tourism and Roaming

In our Handbook on innovation in services and mobility in cities, we published comparative data on the cost and impact of digital vs paper tourist maps. One of our conclusions is that digital mobility costs 1,011x more than paper maps. The updated table below, reflecting the latest available data on global tourism in cities (2008), shows the scale of the burden roaming poses on cities. Table taken from "Connected Cities: Your 256 Billion Euro Dividend"

Our data shows that, as an example, the 15 million international tourists visiting London in 2008 would have had to pay a total of EUR 102 billion in roaming charges to access the 22 million paper maps they collected that year. This is about 5x the total spending of tourists in London per year. Yet, the paper maps resource consumption constituted the equivalent of 19,000 trees - never mind the burden on dealing with the 1,600 hectares of discarded paper to the recycling systems.

But these numbers are fictional, since no tourist coughs up the EUR 4,550 per visit that these numbers imply. instead, visitors chose to disable data services and roaming, pick up a free paper map (subsidized by the local tourist industry), continuing to make use of all its functions: scribbling, asking for directions, sharing & tearing, and tracing their route. All that at a cost of zero Euros.

What then, has to change? In our book we argue that we need to fundamentally change the way we organise the cost of digital services in cities, eliminating roaming whilst adding significant commercial upsides to the operators to the tune of EUR 2 billion per year. Roaming is about 182x as costly as local data tariffs on prepaid plans, meaning that London could replace its paper maps for about EUR 560 million - or a mere 2.8% of tourist expenditure. These numbers do not take into account the efficiency gains in bulk-costs and data consumption by reversing our business models, which would reduce costs to around 1.4% of spending and could make London (or any other city choosing to become the first to tackle this issue) the first roaming-free tourist destination in the world.

Who would finance this? How about those that pay for the maps already dedicating a small percentage of their revenue instead to making theirs the most innovative and attractive tourist destination in the world...

New York City Aims to Improve the Lives of Elderly

The challenges associated with growing old in some of the world's largest, fastest, most-intimidating cities are not new. Crumbling side-walks, inaccessible public restrooms, stoplights that favor cars over pedestrians are problems that can be found in most modern 21st century cities. It's for these reasons precisely that New York Cities most recent attempts to soften up its streets, making it a kinder, friendlier place for cities to live out their golden years. Though the initiative may be bold for a city that has long staked its reputation on it's fast-paced, young and pulsating energy, overall the initiative is incredibly smart; As New York's deputy mayor for Health and Human services puts it, “New York has become a safer city, and we have such richness of parks and culture that we’re becoming a senior retirement destination. They come not only with their minds and their bodies; they come with their pocketbooks.”

Though the city's modifications to infrastructure may seem menial, it seems that elderly residents are quite responsive. These include: extending walk time for pedestrians at more than 400 stoplights across the city, introducing senior-centered art classes in conjunction with city subsidized artist grant programs, providing school buses for common errands such as trips to the grocery store, and creating two specific aging-improvement districts that will be markedly safer and more accessible for seniors.

These improvements are just the tip of the iceberg of an initiative that hopes to drastically improve the daily life of seniors. As an outsider, I find the effort admirable. In recognizing that retiring to a old folks home to live the end of life years is a bit antiquated, the city itself is bearing up and taking on some of the responsibility.

Keen readers can learn more about the initiative here.