Posts tagged "#nerdglossary"

Blockchains Fighting Poverty

November 3rd, 2017 Posted by Blockchain, ICT4D, MMoney, software development 0 comments on “Blockchains Fighting Poverty”

What is a blockchain?

According to the  Institute of Development Studies: “the blockchain is a digital ledger of transactions that is distributed, verified and monitored by multiple sources simultaneously. Traditionally, ledgers have enabled and facilitated vital functions, with the help of trusted third parties such as financial institutions and governments. These include: ensuring us of who owns what; validating transactions; or verifying that a given piece of information is true”.

As opposed to the ledgers of intermediaries (see Table 1), the blockchain is distributed, public, transparent, encrypted and immutable.

Table 1: Comparing traditional ledgers with the blockchain

Source: Adapted from Paul Baran’s networks, Paul Baran, Introduction to Distributed Communications Networks, 1964, Rand Corporation

UN leaders calls startups working with blockchain and other technologies to focus their attention to improve digital identities.

But there are many other areas of application of blockchain for development aid. WFP for example is using blockchain in Jordan’s Azraq campIn the pilot project, called  “Building Blocks”, 10,000 refugees are now able to pay for their food by means of entitlements recorded on a blockchain-based computing platform and Robert Opp, WFP’s Director of Innovation and Change Management, said “Blockchain technology allows us to step up the fight against hunger”“Through blockchain, we aim to cut payment costs, better protect beneficiary data, control financial risks, and respond more rapidly in the wake of emergencies. Using blockchain can be a qualitative leap – not only for WFP, but for the entire humanitarian community”, he added.

Visit  this really interesting facebook group, that give the title of this blogpost, that shares and contains many examples and discussion of blockchains being built to reduce poverty and increase human progress.

Chatbot: another ICT tool for development?

October 12th, 2017 Posted by Data Collection, e-learning, ICT4D, software development 0 comments on “Chatbot: another ICT tool for development?”


chatbot (also known as a talkbot, chatterbot, Bot, IM bot, interactive agent, or Artificial Conversational Entity) is a computer program which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. Such programs are often designed to convincingly simulate how a human would behave as a conversational partner, thereby passing the Turing test. Chatbots are typically used in dialog systems for various practical purposes including customer service or information acquisition. Some chatterbots use sophisticated natural language processing systems, but many simpler systems scan for keywords within the input, then pull a reply with the most matching keywords, or the most similar wording pattern, from a database.


The field of chatbots for good is still emerging, but nonprofit and government organizations have begun to develop use cases.

The chatbot technology has the potential to be an innovative tool for development and humanitarian organizations to better communicate with their beneficiaries. The ability to deploy a scaled outreach campaign while not heavily burdening staff with regards to time and training has the potential to be one invaluable use of chatbots to development organizations with and without an ICT focus.

Chatbots smartly guide beneficiaries and other end users through surveys, making the surveys easier to understand and complete correctly. There are options for additional functionality using artificial intelligence and machine learning in the interpretation of messages and sending of information.

Smartphones and chatbots have made services from banking to transportation more accessible across Africa. Now, aid agencies are hoping they can do the same with food.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) routinely carries out food security analysis in order to assess and track the need for food assistance in its areas of operation. WFP maintains a network of 1.5o food security analysts who work with governments to implement surveys of household food security and markets. WFP commonly implements comprehensive and emergency food security assessments as well as market assessments and facilitates or maintains food security monitoring systems in many of its countries of presence.

In the last year WFP has also experimented with chatbot-based survey.  

Chatbots will not be the solution to all problems, but simply another ICT tool that has the potential to deliver value with a thoughtful approach and proper design and development.

More information here
and here

ICT4Ag: The Experience Of Gnucoop

September 8th, 2017 Posted by GIS, ICT4Ag, ICT4D, software development 0 comments on “ICT4Ag: The Experience Of Gnucoop”

Intoduction on ICT4Ag

Photo Credit: Marco Marche

Agriculture is the mainstay of national economies and household incomes in many African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.
The role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in agriculture is truly significant in everything, from conserving water use to helping secure the livelihoods of rural women. The huge potential of ICT for agriculture (ICT4Ag), from increasing agricultural yields to helping farmers to get a fairer price for their produce, is well documented. Technologies such as SMS applications, mobile banking and satellite data have been used successfully in order to give agricultural stakeholders access to farm mapping, weather data, marketing tools, financial credit, advice from extension workers, and social networks, among other things.

What Gnucoop can offer

    • SMS-based service
      We propose the use of an SMS-based platform providing agricultural advice, weather forecasts, market prices, markets location and calendar to farmers. It uses data and insights on farmers, crops, markets and prices to provide commercial data and intelligence services to agribusinesses and financial organisations.
      SMS trade and market information service is a simple, convenient and cost-effective service that is helping farmers in rural areas to search for market for their produce at better prices within their regions and beyond
      Market information services (MIS) delivered through mobile phone SMS platforms help to increase household incomes, to reduce marketing costs and to improve the social welfare of small-scale farmers.
    • Data Collection Web and Mobile Platform
      Our web-based platform allows to collect, store and manage any kind of data. This application allows to collect data and compile entry forms in a user-friendly way, analyse and generate reports at different levels: from single sites to country offices up to regional and HQ level.
      Data collection is done using different tools, from paper to digital forms and mobile apps.
      The last version of our platform provides a more advanced, modern and modular software; only one interface for data entry; data safety and clear user management structure; a user-friendly and customizable interface; a modular and extendible system.
      Thanks to the use of Angular JS 2 it can work offline guaranteeing offline updates if no connection is available but it would also make the whole system more uniform and centralized, therefore reducing the maintenance costs and the incidence of bugs, increasing the quality of the web application. Though the web app it’s possible to generate standard and customized reports, where users can define what information to include as well as the layout and format to display it. It is possible to analyze data and display related graphs or info-graphs for a better monitoring of the project activities.
    • GIS Platform
      GIS application in agriculture has been playing an increasingly important role in crop production throughout the world by helping farmers in increasing production, reducing costs, and managing their land resources more efficiently. GIS application in agriculture such as agricultural mapping plays a vital role in monitoring and management of soil and irrigation of any given farm land.
      Gnucoop developed a webGIS platform, called Yago, to locate resources, identify critical issues, design urban plans and understand local vulnerabilities in order to increase population preparedness towards natural disasters and help managing crisis.
      It’s a modern and light software that can also run on smartphones and tablets, developed using the Google framework Angular 4 Google and libraries for the development of mobile-friendly Leaflet interactive maps.
      Yago is a webGIS application that allows uploading and overlapping geo datasets in order to identify vulnerable areas, risk and hazards.
      We’re developing a new functionality who allows to enter directly some data on a map, through a specific interface.

Gnucoop can also been carry out field missions to test the application, and monitor the roll out and deployment of the developed application, as well as to train local staff on the use of the system. The system will be implemented in many different countries with thousands of users.

Gnucoop: a Software House with Humanitarian skills and Free Software Heart

September 1st, 2017 Posted by ICT4D, software development 0 comments on “Gnucoop: a Software House with Humanitarian skills and Free Software Heart”

When the first two “nerds” founders of Gnucoop decided to dedicate their computer knowledge to the Humanitarian AID they knew they should have involved some professionals with experience in several developing countries working in NGOs sector.
They strongly believed that the combination of technical competencies with development skills would have given international cooperation projects a better chance to be successful. Gnucoop dedicates a considerable part of its work to activities aiming at providing customized IT solutions and technical assistance to INGOs, UN Agencies and Humanitarian Aid Organisations, supporting them in achieving their purposes.
At the beginning, the understanding of the specific language used by developers, the existence of many acronyms, technical terms, simple words used with a completely different meaning didn’t make easy our work.
During project implementation we had to use many different tools specific for a Software Development project (i.e. project management platform for agile developers, web-based hosting service for source code).
Step by step, project by project, testing by testing, we discovered a new world and now we can say that part of nerds language is also our language.

The merger of these two worlds, which look far from each other in the collective imagination, is our strength. This combination which links nerds, always represented working alone in a tiny room under the light of their PC, and Humanitarian workers, always travelling around the world and surrounded by people, made Gnucoop an uncommon Software House.

Photo Credit: Ong 2.0


For those reasons, it’s a pleasure to share the Digital Development Glossary made by ICTworks and we would like to add some keywords we have already treated in our blog:

E-voucher: Electronic vouchers (e-vouchers) carry information on the monetary value of assistance or items. They can be exchanged through a barcode, a magnetic band or microchip on a card, or by short message service (SMS). Electronic voucher tools (bank card, cell phone, SCOPECARD, etc.) are issued to beneficiaries only once, whereas their refund value or quantity is remotely credited at predefined temporal intervals.

GIS platform: GIS software systems have been used for more than three decades by humanitarian organisations, researchers, and policy makers in order to activate quick responses to natural disasters, to detect early outbreaks of infectious diseases, target development resources, and for public infrastructure planning, such as hospitals and clinics.

And probably the most important issue for us..

Free software: Free software means users have four essential freedoms: users can run the program, study and change the program in source code form, redistribute exact copies and distribute modified versions.
Free software gives the possibility of re-using software code, editing and sharing with the community the improvements made to the software code.

An  operating system composed by  free software means that it respects users’ freedom

Since its foundation Gnucoop has always believed that no real innovation comes without knowledge sharing.