Mobile Applications for NGOs
Mobile technologies are almost ready to conquest personal computers. The popularity of mobile phone is increasing day-after-day, and more and more innovative mobile applications are coming-out, which more or less, take away the use of personal computers. There are a number of applications for mobile phones which have been proved helpful for various tasks of communications, information, banking, education and governance, especially in developing countries. Philippine is the best example of the use of mobile based applications, which led m-Commerce and m-Banking. Smart Money is one of the major national commercial mobile platforms in Philippines, launched in 1999.
Mobile applications have been quite advantageous for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). NGOs, in developing countries like Africa and Philippines, are using mobile applications in a variety of operations such as spreading information, educating people, data collection, surveys, reporting, news, emergency and crises-response, healthcare awareness & support, and navigation & location monitoring.
Phones have now become smarter and beyond calling, and text messaging, these can be used for keeping schedules, reading & editing documents, taking photo, making video calls, surfing internet, reading & replying emails with attachments, reading e-book etc. Many features are available with a phone while other important features can be added by using applications. In many cases, smart phones do not let you feel absence of PC or laptop.
Unlike PCs and laptops, mobile phones have entered deeply into our life; even when we go to sleep, most of us often keep our mobile phones close to bed. A recently conducted study revealed that 4 out of five young people go to bed with mobile phones.
Use of mobile applications in Information, health awareness, and education
More people can you find with mobiles phones than PCs and hence, information and education can easily be forwarded to the user of mobile phones. Mobile phone is really the best platform to reach masses. As per statistics, South Africa alone has more than thirty million mobile phones subscribers. For NGOs, mobile phones are quick mean of spreading information and educational instructions. By using SMS functions, or a mobile application, NGO can propagate their messages and can also cover larger population in their social welfare movement. NGOs are nowadays also using mobile phones applications to aware people about different diseases, primarily HIV/AIDS. NGOs involved in healthcare can send reminder to their patients, or patients can also schedule appointments with doctors. A dedicated application can be installed in mobile, and it may enable the user to send to and receive SMSs from people. You do not need a sophisticated mobile or internet connection to use such mobile application. This type of application also allows you to create and manage all our SMS contacts and provide both incoming and outgoing history for each contact, and exports data to Excel and other programs.
Use of mobile application in collection of data and survey records
We can also use mobile in data collection and survey, particularly in rural areas. In developing countries, rural areas are not easily accessible, but with help of mobile and targeted applications, keeping records up-to-date can become fairly easy. It saves time and encourages people to naturally participate in various data collection and surveys which can further become base to different welfare plans, projects and programs organized by governmental and nongovernmental organizations. Colleting date and survey reports from fields using mobile phone cuts the use of paper and eases the process of data transcription and transfer. This method also gives enough time to work on plans of welfare instead of managing records. Data collected using mobile applications also minimizes possibilities of errors which often occur when information is retyped from hardcopy to softcopy.
Mobile apps can serve like as a date collection system in your mobile. They can facilitate NGOs’ fieldworkers to collect data and survey records in their mobile phones and then transfer these records to PC for further processing. Also with these apps, a preformatted message with empty fields is created when user wants to collect information. After filling the form completely, the message can immediately be sent to the central server where a backend application interprets the information and stores it in system for further use. This is a customizable application and form can be created as per the requirements.
Mobile applications are very helpful in case of responding to emergency situations and crises. Recovery becomes easy when modes of transmitting information are also easy. A dedicated app can be a help to respond emergency and crises. Other areas where mobile applications play important role are journalism, reporting, healthcare, medical appointment, navigation, and monitoring of locations.