You haven’t seen me around much lately—that’s because, as of 4.29 in the morning on the 1st January, 2017 already has 2016 beat: our daughter Kathleen Rose was born, the first SIMLab baby since 2014.
When we first wrote about technology and security nearly a year ago, SIMLab had just begun to test our hypotheses about how inclusive technologies can help strengthen relationships between communities and police through community-oriented or community-based policing.Today, we want to share some of our research methodology, a few findings from our fieldwork in 2016, and our next steps in 2017 and beyond.
Welcome to a new year, and a new SIMLab. 2017 marks our tenth year of existence as a nonprofit, and our third since we spun off FrontlineSMS. This year also marks the start of an exciting new period for SIMLab. We've got ambitious plans for 2017. We'll be sharing our strategy with you in the weeks to come, but wanted to share a small preview of what we’re working on.
Nonprofits are an economic force to be reckoned with, employing 10% of the domestic workforce and accounting for 5% of GDP in 2014.
Stacks of administrative records with no digital counterpart
Last year, SIMLab completed a project with DC Public Library (DCPL) to find out how the library could deliver and maintain good information on social services in DC. Funded by the Knight Foundation’s Prototype Fund, this project sparked a prolonged investigation into how the American social safety net is constructed. What follows is a rundown of what we did.
In rural and low-resource contexts, low-cost technology, like SMS, can facilitate faster, cheaper data collection and reporting about government processes. As a result, a new question arises: how can we use this new data to help people understand complex processes, and to drive them to action?
A values-based approach to evaluating the role of tech in social change projects: starting with a broader canvas
Our field is growing up. All around us, colleagues and friends who, like us, specialize in using tech for social change are developing nuanced, practical and helpful guides for practitioners. These tools are a far cry from the simplistic checklists that the sector produced five years ago - they are wide-ranging, practical walkthroughs of the challenges that tech-enabled projects face. For example, check out the Tool Selection Assistant from the Engine Room - the latest of many excellent contributions they’ve made to our field - and the Data Starter Kit developed by the Cash Learning Partnership’s Electronic Cash Transfer Learning Action Network. What’s great about them is that they go beyond purely technical considerations to cover the enormous range of success factors that come together to make an impactful, sustainable tech-enabled project, from legal implications, to organizational information management processes, to fit with existing community habits and capacity. We’re proud to be collaborators on these tools, and we’ve taken a similarly open approach with one of our latest products - our Monitoring and Evaluation Framework.
WITTT forum in Vanuatu 2015. Photo Credit: ActionAid Australia (2015)
Did you miss our online course, “Scalable, Low-Cost Technologies for Civil Society Organizations”? Now you can take it at your own pace! Sign up for our new email-based course here.