The Digital Agency for International Development

Aptivate’s role in the debate about mobile technology and international development

By Elly Boulboul on 07 July 2014

In the past few years we have seen how our end users are getting better access to the internet, particularly on mobile devices and this trend is growing. We are keen to make sure this is not ignored and that we understand how the international development sector can take advantage of mobile technology.

Many organisations are already use using mobile technology in their programmes. For example, we recently worked with CBM and Mobility India to deliver a mobile data collection system, which allows visually impaired field workers using mobile phones to monitor activities in a real time.

How Aptivate fits within the international development sector

In our ten years of experience working in this field, We’ve noticed that many technical specialists have little experience of international development. Although they have knowledge about the latest technologies it’s a big leap for them to see how this can be used to help developing nations. On the other side of the spectrum many of those who work in international development often find it hard to understand how they can use technology to support their programmes. Neither side have enough understanding to innovate and understand the risks fully.

This is where we begin to bridge the gap. Aptivate has 10 years experience providing technical systems for international development projects. We have a good understanding of the sector as well as the technical expertise to know what’s possible. Several of us have studied relevant subjects like ‘ICTs for Development’, ‘Programming Language Theory’ and ‘Human rights’ for MAs and PhDs and many of us have worked and lived in developing countries. During our long term relationships with DIFD and the World Bank we have worked on some successful projects like Youwin M&E tool and A guide to evaluation digital citizen enquagement

We also have strong ties with leading thinkers in the sector, including at IDS (the Institute of Development Studies, at the University of Sussex, the ICT4D Collective (at Royal Holloway University of London) and IDPM (the Institute for Development Policy and Management, at the University of Manchester).

Why do we convene Apticon events every year?

Our position at the cusp of technology, development and participatory debates allows us to bring together funders, implementers and academics from all three areas. 

This year, on July 8th the group is made up of people with an interest in how the Development sector is ‘Moving toward mobile’. A wide range of partners, clients and interested individuals will join our team for they day. Many of the attendees are experts in their field so expect there to be some challenging and insightful discussion around the theme.

We use an Open Space for all our Apticon events, because we find this allows everyone to contribute and bring up the most prevalent topics for debate. It’s a fun, lively, self-organising facilitation method that allows participants to take full control of discussions. This time we hope to have six 40 minute sessions with up to 4 topics being discussed at a time.

We will be updating twitter on the day from @AptivateUK using #Apticon, please get involved in the debates. If there’s a topic you would like us to consider let us know and we will see if it sparks interest.

Watch this space for updates after the event.