Geospatially aware social software and Africa

Abstract : We present a proposal for the development and implementation of a group of tools that will support the collection and sharing of georeferenced information. Locations such as rural Africa suffer from a technical problem hampering their participation in the global information community: infrastructures and terminals for Internet access are non-existent or of poor quality. We believe that cell-phone software can be leveraged as a way to bridge this. One important contribution that local communities can provide to the global community is local knowledge. By providing a cell-phone application, people living in low-tech areas can gain the ability to make available worldwide that knowledge, taking full advantage of georeferenced functionalities. This proposal envisages the use of a wiki backbone connected to a map server, allowing information to be added, consulted, edited, and searched, providing strong version management across several users. The georeferenced information can be useful for tackling specific development issues, such as drought problems, outbreaks of diseases, etc. - giving NGOs and governments a better framework upon which to act. By allowing local people to gather, organize and transfer data directly, organizations both local and worldwide can act on timely and accurate local information, as can farmers, local businesspeople, etc. Education is yet another area of application for such a system: teachers would be able to use it to provide a widespread audience for their students' tasks and engage students in collaborative tasks across regions. This ability to publish and retrieve local information can be used by students to share local history and local traditions, contributing to the awareness and preservation of ancient knowledge and customs, and benefiting from cooperation with similar projects in other towns, whether in their own countries or abroad.
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Hugo Alves, Luis Gens, Hugo Paredes, Paulo Martins, Benjamim Fonseca, et al.. Geospatially aware social software and Africa. 2006. ⟨hal-00190129⟩

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