June 30, 2010

A mobile platform for human rights

Handheld human rights from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

Co-director of Digital Democracy spells out how new platform can skirt government censorship

JD LasicaOne of the organizations I’ve been admiring from afar over the past year is Digital Democracy, which works with local partners to put information into the hands of people who need it most – those neglected, disenfranchised or abused by their rulers. The group employs education, communication and participation to empower citizens to build and shape their own communities.

Myanmar crisis mapIn this interview conducted last year, co-director Emily Jacobi (@emjacobi on Twitter) discusses Handheld Human Rights, a platform, project and website that makes human rights data accessible and actionable. Designed in concert with Burmese human rights organizations, Handheld Human Rights enables people there to communicate securely within their networks and to map crisis hotspots so that the international community can see the human rights violations taking place inside Myanmar.

The tool enables human rights workers to collect eyewitness accounts of killings, forced labor, rape as a tool of war and other brutalities and relay them to the outside world by skirting media censorship from Myanmar’s autocratic military junta. And it is slowly being adopted in other troubled places, like Thailand.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo
Watch or embed on YouTube

It’s a wonderful example of how activists can use media and data to drive home a powerful message. Contact Digital Democracy directly if you’d like to use Handheld Human Rights. Continue reading

June 10, 2009

20 tips for mobile advocacy

mobile-advocacyKatrin VerclasMobile social marketing works in increasing awareness and moving people to actions. It is also becoming an effective way to engage users and constituents. Throughout our experience with mobile campaigns, we’ve run into the some great campaigns and some failures as well. In our ongoing series of articles and case studies on using mobiles for advocating for an issue and engaging a constituency, here are our top ten things that nonprofits should and shouldn’t do when running a mobile advocacy campaign.

The dos of mobile advocacy

1. Mobile messaging should be about interaction, not just pitch — a hard notion to learn for advocacy organizations used to pushing email messages by the millions. Mobiles offer a unique opportunity for interacting with a constituent. Advocacy organizations need to think about mobile marketing as a conversation, a way to talk two-ways with constituents.

2. Trust is key as the mobile medium is so very personal. Gain permission and offer relevant and timely content that is valuable to the recipient. Note how to opt out regularly and never ever spam.

3. Pull people to mobile interaction through other media — ads, billboards, the web and offer, in turn, mobile interaction with those media. Think of mobile as an acquisition tool.

4. Know your constituency. Be careful when targeting your demographics and make your ask accordingly — asking an older constituency to upload mobile photos is not going to be very successful.

5. Be relevant. Offer timely news and functional updates that are of interest to your audience — and be clever. Just by way of an idea: The American Lung Association could offer air quality updates via sms for where I live. If engaged in a campaign where I am signing a mobile petition, for example, let me know how it’s going — how many signatures have been gathered, for example. Remind me of events I have signed up for or activities that are part of an organization’s campaign. Give me information I want and need just-in-time when I need it.

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June 2, 2009

A user’s guide to mobile activism

Guest post by Jed Alpert
Founder, Mobile Commons

In this guide, we’ll introduce you to the world of mobile activism and show you how you can take your organization mobile. (You can also download and print out the guide as a 16-page Word doc from Archive.org.)

family-guyMobile is a complex ecosystem, and it includes:

• Telecom carriers: All mobile traffic is routed through telecom providers like Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T.

• Handset manufacturers: A wide variety of companies manufacture mobile devices, from Apple’s iPhone to boutique brands you haven’t heard of yet.

• The Internet: A small number of mobile  hones (about 5%) have web capability – users can check email and surf the web, though the experience can be uneven at times.

• Application providers: Mobile application providers allow you to create and manage your mobile programs, often from a web-based application.

We’ll mention a few pertinent facts about each of these areas, but we’ll focus mostly on application providers; good providers will serve as a one-stop shop, so you won’t have to deal with any complexity.

First, though, a short introduction to the various forms mobile programs can take.

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