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4D_WS 2011 - Workshop on Mobile and Web Technologies in Social and Economic Development



VenueDar es Sal, Tanzania Tanzania



Topics/Call fo Papers

The Dar es Salaam workshop is the fourth instance of a series that started in 2006 in Bangalore, India and then continued in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2008, and in Maputo, Mozambique in 2009. The previous instances were tackling the broad issue of the use of mobile technologies in social and economic development. The discussions and output of these events were essential in the publication of the W3C Mobile Web for Social Development Roadmap in December 2009.

The MW4D roadmap identified a series of directions to explore for realizing the full potential of mobile technology in development. The role of this fourth instance is to investigate in more detail three specific themes that have recently attracted the attention of the community:

Provision of sustainable services through entrepreneurship
Availability of multi-purpose/multi-channel data collection tools
Delivery of services through voice applications
Mobile and Entrepreneurship

While the potential of mobile services to improve people's lives in underprivileged communities has largely been demonstrated through different pilot projects across the world, the number of services deployed is still very low. Starting from the observation that one of the specificities of African societies is the importance and the number of individual entrepreneurs, it is natural to consider that ICT in general and mobile services in particular could be a target domain of business for these entrepreneurs. Several initiatives on this theme have appeared last year, such as the World Bank's InfoDev Mobile Application Lab, or the Web Foundation's Mobile Entrepreneurs in Africa project. It is therefore important to gather people and organizations investigating this area, and to identify success factors and challenges that entrepreneurs encounter when undertaking business in mobile services for development

Data Collection Tools

Ready-to-use tools are essential to empower people and organizations without technical expertise to exploit the full potential of mobile. The number of mobile tools has grown significantly over the last few years. Specifically, data collection tools have multiplied: while, two years ago, hardly any existed, there is now a plethora available. Interest in tools is due to their applicability and generic nature: collecting data is a crucial task across nearly all domains, notably in remote health diagnosing, agriculture, censuses, human right watching, journalism, market surveys, opinion polls, votes, registration, etc.

Unfortunately, there is still no leading option, while the number of tools available continues to grow, each of them limited in scope to just one aspect of the whole process. Data collection is usually carried out in three steps:

Design of the data collection process: which data to collect, in what order, etc.
Collection: the data are collected based on the design stage
Analysis and presentation: the collected data are compiled, processed and results are revealed
Design tools are PC-based (dedicated applications or Web-based applications), and some are mobile-based. Most have a graphical user interface and offer predefined templates for specific tasks (e.g registration form, vote, etc) or allow the user to define his own survey based on a more or less rich set of types of questions (yes/no, ranking, multiple choices, check boxes, etc.).

On the collection process aspect, major differences exist between available tools. They use different communication channels (SMS, voice, data), different types of clients (SMS, Java, web-based), etc. Hardly any tools offer a multi-channel solution.

Finally, most data collection frameworks offer basic analysis and presentation capabilities that mainly exhibit statistics on the data collected. However, the way the data can be best processed and the results presented largely depends on the final objective of the collection process, and should therefore be very customizable. Many tools that present data (for instance on a map, like Ushahidi) integrate their own data collection mechanism for the specific task that they were designed for. This is one of the major reasons why those tools don't adapt to new data collection tasks and new ones keep being built as a result.

The systematic (re-)development of vaguely similar tools ends up being a global waste of time and money. But based on existing initiatives and projects and through a community approach, it is possible to design a set of requirements for a tool that would cover the design and collection stages, and offer data access APIs for third-party analysis and presentation systems. This workshop is a first step in that direction, and will convene users and developers of existing tools to build a shared view and to lay out shared requirements for a generic framework that could be used by all.

This work explore the state of data collection tools and options for the future is being funded by a grant from the Hewlett Foundation to the World Wide Web Foundation.

Voice-Based Web Services

Voice-based Web applications utilize the traditional voice channel of telephony. End-users place a standard phone call to a specific number and reach a voice browser platform through which the Web-hosted services are accessed. From there, navigation through the application is done either by voice input (the user speaks to the application) or by pressing the phone keypads.

Voice-Web applications allow bridging numerous barriers usually found when trying to provide ICT services to underprivileged communities, including:

Hardware Gap: voice applications are accessible with any phone, including fixed and VoIP
Internet Gap: voice applications are accessible everywhere where a phone connection is available, regardless of Internet availability.
Language Gap: voice applications can be designed to support any human language, simply by recording voice prompts in that language
Illiteracy Gap: voice applications can be used by people with any level of literacy.
While a few projects and initiatives are exploring the development and deployment of voice services, such as Freedomfone or Spoken Web, no community-wide effort exists to explore the opportunities of the voice-Web channel in the context of underprivileged communities. This workshop aims at being a first step in that direction by gathering interested people and organizations, as well as understanding the needs, requirements and constraints of this new domain.

Voice-based Web access is one of the central focuses on Web Foundation's Web in Society program, and there are two ongoing projects on this topic: VBAT and VOICES.

While the three themes mentioned above represent the center of gravity of the event, the program committee welcomes submissions on other topics related to mobile technology and the Web in Social and Economic development. The final agenda will be driven by topics covered in the submissions


The following topics are of particular interest:

Analysis of use-cases and real-world projects on
data collection in the field through mobile phones
delivery and collection of information using voice technologies
building sustainable and social-oriented mobile services
Challenges of integrating ICTs in rural communities, particularly voice services
Challenges to entrepreneurs developing mobile services
Usability and Human-Computer Interfaces (HCI)
Designing mobile browsers and mobile contents for population without technological background or prior computer experience
Challenges posed by illiteracy, and potential solutions
Regional differences world wide
Usage of mobile technologies in emergency response scenarios and in rural areas
Analysis of the way mobile phones and the Web could improve people's lives in developing countries (education, healthcare, etc.)
Role of voice and multimodal technologies and applications
Challenges of developing and deploying numerous ICT services in rural communities
Comparisons between different potential platforms to support ICT deployment (mobile phones, low-cost laptops, telecenters, etc.)
Opportunity and challenges of ICTs in social/human development
Challenges of sustainability, scalability and replicability
Challenges and opportunities of integrating mobile phones in specific domains: eGovernment projects (mGovernment), e-health projects, disaster management, etc.
Who should attend ?

W3C and the Web Foundation expect that this workshop should be of particular interest to people with following backgrounds:

Developers and users of data collection tools in the field
Specialists in voice technologies, and its application in underprivileged communities
Specialists in entrepreneurship in developing countries
Charitable foundations funding and managing development projects using ICTs
Companies or organizations providing ICT-related products, services, content, applications or infrastructure in Developing Countries.
People with grassroots experience on the use of ICT in development
People in the ICT for Development (ICT4D) domain
People with a mobile technology background
Web experts
Accessibility experts
Digital divide experts
Experts in mobile HCI in developing countries
Experts in the use of mobile phones in development
Workshop Dates

The workshop will take place on June 4-5 2011.


Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Details to be announced soon.


To be announced soon.


Statements of Interest, abstracts, position papers and presentation slides must be in English. The official language in the whole conference is english and french. While there will be no simultaneous translation, participants speaking one or the other languages are welcome to attend.


Statement of interest are required in order to participate in this workshop. Each organization or individual wishing to participate must submit a statement of interest to explaining their interest in the workshopas soon as possible and no later than April 15, 2011. The intent is to make sure that participants have an active interest in the area, and that the workshop will benefit from their presence. The Program Committee will select attendants based on their statement of interests and the number of available seats.

Each organization or individual wishing to have a position paper published on the workshop web site and/or wishing to make a presentation during the event must submit an abstract no later than April 15, 2011. The Program Committee will then review these abstracts, select some of them for presentation, and request the full papers from the authors. The decision of the Program Committee will be notified to the authors by May 10, 2011.

Send abstract (in valid HTML (please use the W3C Markup Validation Service) or PDF or Plain Text - 1 to 2 pages) to:

All abstracts and full papers will be available from the workshop's Web site. The site will be public so papers and slides must be suitable for public dissemination. Speaker's slides will also be available on the Web site after the workshop. There will not be printed proceedings.

To attend, you must register by filling out a registration form. The URI for the form will be sent after a statement of interest is accepted.

As this workshop is part of the Internet Summit Africa, registration to the summit will be mandatory.

Press representatives must contact and/or

Important Deadlines

Please note the following dates:

As soon as possible - Statements of interest
April 15, 2011: Abstract submission deadline
May 10, 2011: Committee Decisions on participations and abstract selections
May 10, 2011: Agenda and registration open
May 31, 2011: Final presentations available and registration closed
June 4-5, 2011: Two-day Workshop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Enquiries or comments on the workshop can be sent to the public mailing list The archive of the list is visible to the public.

Private enquiries can be directed to the Workshop Chairs.

Program Committee

The program committee can be contacted by email at:

The Program Committee, still in construction, comprises the following appointees:

Dr Etienne Barnard, NWU
Dr. Kilnam Chon, AAF
Nancy Dotse, AfNOG
Dominique Hazaël-Massieux, W3C
Dr Nii Quaynor
Workshop Chairs

Maxime Froumentin (Web Foundation)
Stephane Boyera (Web Foundation/W3C)

Last modified: 2011-02-04 22:49:54