Monday, 3 October 2011

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.

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