The Digital Agency for International Development

Mobiles for Scientific Research

By Chris Wilson on 09 July 2010

We know mobiles are very useful in areas where desktop computer and communications infrastructure is not easily available or affordable. And we're very interested in mobile applications and scientific research in exactly these regions.

So I was very interested to see a new training workshop being run by the Science Dissemination Unit (SDU) of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP). The workshop is on Mobile Science: Sensing, Computing and Dissemination and the deadline for applications is tomorrow, July 10th.

Quoting from the announcement:

The Science Dissemination Unit (SDU) of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), with the assistance of the University of Washington (USA) and of the UCLA Centerfor Embedded Networked Sensing (USA) will hold a Workshop on "Mobile Science: Sensing, Computing and Dissemination" in Trieste (Italy) from the 2 to the 5 of November 2010.

Mobile applications offer tremendous benefits to academic research and education, and to society as a whole throughout the world. This is an opportunity that deserves attention and promotion, especially in less developed areas where mobile phones are the first telecommunications technology in history to have more users than in the developed world.

The specific things that interested me were:

The Mobile Science workshop aims to engage the scientific community in developing countries in the design, development, and deployment of the newest mobile scientific applications;
i.e. advocating appropriate mobile applications in scientific research/academia;
Participants will learn how to apply mobile technology tools to retrieve scientific data
I.e. designing mobile apps for science data collection;
how to apply appropriate web-based analysis to assimilate mobile data into scientific studies
I.e. web-based statistical analysis and presentation, like a free online version of SPSS? As far as I know this doesn't exist yet. The closest that I can think of is the Google Docs spreadsheet, which is of course just a spreadsheet, requires an internet connection and doesn't allow plugins for additional scientific analysis functionality. But there could be a very interesting app to develop here.
and how to share their scientific findings with a potentially large mobile audience.
I.e. low bandwidth design with an emphasis on web standards for cross-platform compatibility, so that it works on the largest number of mobile devices.

If you want to apply, better get on your bike (or modem?) because the deadline is tomorrow. If you want to do mobile scientific research applications, please get in touch, we'd like to help you.