Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Extreme Poverty Day Fair

On October 25th, Amadeyr Cloud Ltd. (ACL) participated in the Extreme Poverty Day fair held at the Bashundhara Convention Centre. At the fair we hosted a stall showcasing our pilot project “Digits to All”, our delivery system, and demonstrated our survey system. The fair was organized by Shiree, BRAC and the British Council to highlight over 50 organizations and leaders from various sectors whom are actively working on reducing poverty.  The main theme of the event was:

“Let’s unite in our effort to eradicate extreme poverty.”

We would like to thank Shiree for including us in this prestigious event. The eradication of extreme poverty is everyone’s responsibility!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

"Digits to All" pilot wrap up

On Friday October 21st, the Amadeyr Cloud Ltd. team traveled to the four para sites in Nijmawna to wrap up the "Digits to All" pilot. The team and two family members handed out certificates of appreciation to the households that participated in the pilot. During the certificate handover, many households told the Board Members that they thought the tablets were very useful and felt that the entire family had benefited from it. When asked if they would be willing to participate in another pilot, they overwhelmingly said "YES!". 

Thank you Mondalia, Kona, Mekar and Purbo Para for letting us into your homes for the past four months! 

Friday, 21 October 2011

Informing the Illiterate-Dhaka Courier Article, October 20th, 2011


Shayan S Khan

After India got its cheap $35 (for students) tablet PCs, Bangladesh may be on the verge of using the handheld devices for its own giant leap across the technological divide- provided a unique pilot about to conclude in Gazipur can be replicated at a national level.

”Digits to All” is the flagship project of an ambitious undertaking by four individuals that has at its heart two concepts at the cutting edge of technology today- cloud based computing, and the tablet PC.

Its stated aim is to “bridge the illiteracy wall” that denies the masses in a poor country like Bangladesh direct access to information, simply due to their inability to read or write. A guiding principle of what motivated the four- three businessmen and a lawyer- is that being illiterate doesn’t mean one should be uninformed as well.

With that in mind, they set up Amadeyr Cloud Ltd (ACL), focusing on finding solutions to the problem of “bridging the digital and literacy divide” and “maximising information efficiency”.

Digits to All, for which the initial pilot has been entirely funded by ACL itself, is causing some excitement in development circles, with its delivery system that aims to demonstrate information can be directly delivered to even illiterate users, who can in turn comprehend it fully and most importantly- put it to good use.

The system was envisioned (and subsequently implemented during the pilot) as a “loop”, starting with content ranging from information on how to obtain a birth certificate to precautions against dengue fever uploaded on to the “Amadeyr Cloud” in the form of “apps”. The content is then accessed through “Amadeyr Tablets”- given free of charge to user groups, although ACL expects the purchase of the tablets to be financed by recipients’ usage of the devices.

To complete the loop, usage data is relayed back to the cloud, helping ACL to not only maintain the cloud, but also to keep expanding it through continuous customisation to suit users’ wants and needs.

Under the initial pilot, one Amadeyr Tablet each was distributed amongst 138 households in Nij Maona village of Gazipur, just outside the capital. Four WiFi networks were set up across the village to allow the villagers to go online with their tablets, and download content from the Amadeyr Cloud, which incidentally is the first cloud server developed in the country.

The tablets run on Google’s Android operating system, and have been specifically designed and customised by ACL for use by “illiterate and bottom-of-the-pyramid” users. They’re no iPad or Playbook, but they get the job done.

The “illiteracy-proof” content currently on the cloud has mostly been developed by the ACL team in conjunction with their strategic partners such as Infokosh/A2I. Brac University as well, has provided valuable technical support.

In order get past the illiteracy barrier, all content aims to be as audiovisual as possible- be it information on paddy cultivation, cattle farming, producing organic fertilisers, how to avoid or deal with different diseases, pregnancy advice, or primary and secondary level e-books.

The birth certificate application for example, contains audio instructions at each step of filling out the form, to nudge the user along towards submitting the completed application online.

The results of the pilot are still to be weighed up formally, through a survey that compares it with an initial baseline that was conducted at the start. That will reveal how truly scalable the project can be.

But already in just four months, it has thrown up some remarkable stories, as UNB discovered on a recent visit to the project site. One couple learned about fisheries, and used what they learned to grow a pond of fish, each weighing “1 to 1.5kg”, which they now expect now to sell at a profit. A tea-stall owner not only expanded his shop, he went on to start a poultry farm as well. One woman started a vegetable farm, while another finally realised a lifelong dream to write her own name.

Elizabeth Ali, chairperson of ACL and the lone non-Bangladeshi amongst the four founders, is very keen to point out that the results they have in so far show a greater propensity amongst women in the household to make use of the tablet and explore its possibilities.

One regret for Ms Ali is the inability of the ACL team to develop and upload more content onto the cloud, “to keep up with the users”, who are evidently lapping up all the information made available to them.

But that too serves to demonstrate the validity of the ACL team’s overriding objective- even in the absence of literacy, with a little bit of creativity, information delivery and consumption can be optimised to yield some audacious results.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Mondolia Site Visit (October 1, 2011)

On Saturday morning the ACL team and two reporters traveled to Mondolia Para. The participating households shared their tablet usage experience with the team.

Special thanks to Momtajul Haque (Ripon) for photographing our visit!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Amadeyr Cloud YouTube Channel--View Impact of Digits to All Project


Please click on to the above link and subscribe to the Amadeyr Cloud YouTube Channel.  We have recently uploaded on this Channel video testimonials by four participants of our "Digits to All" pilot in Nizmawna village, Gazipur, Bangladesh.  These videos clearly show the impact of our project on the poor by enhancing their lives and livelihood.  Please view the videos and leave your comments.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Ittefaq Report on Amadeyr Cloud Pilot and Translation


“Digit To All” Project

Achiya Khatun, an illiterate 55 years old lady, has lived her long life in a little village named Nij Maona of Sripur Upazilla. But her inherent thrust for education has survived which is now having its true shape. Now she can proudly write her name. Not only that little literacy, she has also learned some agricultural matters and has successfully started papaya plantation at her home compound. All of these successes have been carried out by the pilot project named “Digit To All” of Amadyer Cloud Ltd. Under this exceptional project, Mr. Forhad a young entrepreneur has learned the methods required for cattle farming and bought 15 cows. The total amount of his investment is 6 lacs taka. In addition, Adbul Ohab, Baki Billah and many other farmers have got their inspiration from this project to work in different fields. They have used their own manufactured organic and earthworm fertilizer in the plant field which has turned down the use of chemical fertilizer level and has reduced the cultivation cost. Like Achiya Kahtun, Forhad or Baki Billah, more 138 families of the Nij Maona village have started their expedition to change their fate by the Information Support.

In “Digit To All” Project the involvement of women is much more higher than the men. Besides their household activities, with the help of information provided, they are running poultry business and planting vegetable in the yard. And followed by this, the opportunities are opening for women’s empowerment.

The project is running under the facilitation of three businessmen and a lawyer. According to the entrepreneurs, the core objective of this project is to make the information dynamically accessible to the mass people which will stimulate the socio-economic development. And to make it happen, the initiative is with the best use of modern information technology, making the information directly reachable to the illiterate people and to those who are remotely connected to the mass-media.

For the very first time in Bangladesh, a server named “cloud server’ has been developed for this project. Under this project 138 families of Nij Maona village have got a tablet PC per family basis. Four wide WiFi networks have been developed to build the connection between the cloud server and tablet PCs. By this network, the tablet PCs get information and it becomes possible to have a favourable catalogue of the applied information. New information are downloaded in the tablet PCs by internet.

The tablet PCs having touch screen facility can be operated by seeing pictures and hearing instructions given in Bengali. So, for the illiterate people it is highly user friendly. Now, primarily, information about education, health, agriculture and different administrative matters are being served under this project. To make the themes understandable, topic related pictures have been attached to the subjects which can be touched and have the sound effect to every picture. And after entering into the program, subject wise video documentaries get started. By this way, the user gets ideas and instructions on different matters.

Regarding agriculture the information are about paddy, vegetable cultivation, fishery, cattle farming and producing organic fertilizer. Health oriented issues are namely the syndromes of different diseases and due instructions. In case of education, for primary literacy e-books with alphabetic instructions and for secondary level secondary e-books have been uploaded to the server.

The Access to Information (A2I) program being governed under the direction of E-governance cell of the Prime Minister’s Office is assisting the Pilot Project by giving informative support. Most of the data of “Digit To All” project are collected from the National E-Infocell. The Brac University is giving the technical support to this pilot project.

One of the cornerstones of this project has said to the Daily Ittefaq that ‘the main aim of this project is to promote the realistic and self dependent use of information technology. The initiative can be treated as the social business. After this pilot project, we have certain plan to carry it up to a wide range. But to make it happen we need supports from government as well as from donor organisations’.

Another sponsor of this project said that ‘in early stage some information about primary needs are given, and slowly the number of data will be increased’. The project stared on 26th June, 2011 will have its end in this month.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Ittefaq report on 4th October, 2011

Unicode version: http://new.ittefaq.com.bd/news/view/46607/2011-10-04/1
Non-Unicode version: http://www.bangladeshnews24.com/ittefaq/2011/10/04/7142.htm

Amadeyr Cloud Pilot Project Update


Amadeyr Cloud Ltd. is a private organization that believes that through the use of technology, semi literate and illiterate persons can also be given access to information which will in turn enhance their ability to compete for goods and service that are rightfully theirs.
Through the use of small electronic tablets devices (handheld computers), users of all ages could be educated and at the same time receive services and resources. Informational videos/pod casts, text documents with read-outs could be sent over an intranet to users discussing issues such as health and hygiene; environmental awareness; social and citizenship; best farming practices; current market prices; their legal rights; public notices such as weather warnings and so much more.

Based on the above-mentioned ideas, after many months of research, Amadeyr Cloud Ltd. formulated and implemented the “Digits to All” pilot project. In mid June, 130 + Amadeyr tablets were distributed to preselected household in the village of Nizmawna, Gazipur. The selected pilot area spans around 2 square kilometers.

This ambitious project involved building a Wireless Mesh Network (WMN) at site to support an Intranet and partnering with village households to provide server sites and electricity. Local college aged students were employed at site to help in providing technical assistance to the selected households.

Easier to use than a mobile phone, the tablet employs a simple touch screen interface that gives the user visual and audio cues. Villagers were provided with basic training on how to access information under four topic areas: Health, Education, Agriculture and General Information.

The households that were selected for the pilot project were allowed to use the tablets for free with the understanding that they would be required to use them for at least one hour a day in order to keep them (which is monitored at the server level). All members of the family were encouraged to use the device.

As just mentioned, majority of the applications on the tablet are audio/visual and in Bengali. The tablet is a

flat screen device that when the power button is pushed four application buttons with pictures on them appear (see photo). When a button is touched, it will give an audio cue such as:

“Education” or “ Heath” or “Agriculture” or “General Public Information”

The tablet will then open up another sub-screen with four or more application buttons for them to chose from with pictures. For example under “Heath”:

• Dengue Fever (picture of a person lying in a hospital bed connected to an IV)
• TB (picture a very thin man lying in bed)
• Hand wash (picture of hands with soap on them)
• Nutrition (picture of fruits and vegetables)
• Family Planning (picture of a family)

All information provided to the users is hosted and distributed through a Cloud Server setup. Updates are sent weekly providing the user with additional information and choices.

Within the first month of the pilot project over 22,000 clicks were registered. Currently the “Digits to All” pilot project is on its fourth and final month. To date over 160,000 clicks have been registered. One of the most viewed subfolder is “Women’s Rights”.
Notably the participating households have not only viewed the information but have “used” what they learned from the tablet. During a recent sight visit, participants proudly showed the Amadeyr Cloud staff organic fertilizer that they made and were selling using local resources. The staff was also shown earthworm composts, usage of the magic pipe system to reduce water usage, duck farming started based on content, and kitchen gardens.

One of the most striking stories however, was the story of an elderly woman who had taught herself the Bangla

alphabets and spells her name using the “Okkhar” application. This application allows the user to select a letter of the alphabet; it then gives them an audio cue telling them which letter they have selected. The user then traces the Bengali letter with their finger. The letter becomes green and an audio of the letter and it’s pronunciation when the task is complete.

Overall, technology can be used as an efficient and accountable catalyst in furthering education/literacy. Currently Amadeyr Cloud is working towards developing a forum application. The forum would allow users to participate in surveys and provide direct feedback; hence contributing in decision-making. This is a key element not to be underestimated as many projects fail due to inadequate feedback.
Ultimately, Amadeyr Cloud Ltd. believes that the exposure to information could directly lead to the advancement of the user’s knowledge of their rights and a preference towards democratic tendencies. Usage of the application /information delivery system is only limited by creativity.