Mobile Voices wins UN Award

From USC Annenberg News:

“Mobile Voices wins UN information technology award

Mobile Voices/Voces Móviles, the microblogging project designed in collaboration with USC Annenberg and the Institute of Popular Education of Southern California, or IDEPSCA, has won a United Nations-sponsored World Summit Award for innovative mobile applications.

“Today, we fulfilled where we said that Mobile Voices is a window to the universe where the voices of those who for centuries have been excluded can be heard,” read a statement prepared by the IDEPSCA Popular Communication team, the group of day laborers and household workers who developed the Mobile Voices system.

Mobile Voices is an open-source platform that lets mobile phone users post text, photo and video content to a publicly available website. Day laborers and household workers across Los Angeles, as well as members of the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN), have used the interface to report news, distribute information and share stories about their work, lives, and their points of view.

“One of the unique strengths of VozMob is that it was designed from the start in close collaboration with the immigrant workers it serves,” said communication professor François Bar (pictured at right), one of the USC Annenberg scholars on the project team. “This United Nations award brings global recognition to the value of our participatory design approach.”

The awards are given by the United Nations in recognition of online and mobile content that promotes global digital access and inclusion in the communication revolution, especially in developing countries and underserved communities. More than 420 products from nearly 100 countries were considered for awards.

Mobile Voices is one of five winners in the “m-Inclusion & Empowerment” category, targeted to those apps that “support integration within the global information society.” Other winners in the category included a German application providing resources for handicapped people and an SMS-integrated program linking remote communities in Guatemala.

The winning project teams will receive their awards in December at the World Summit Award Mobile Winners’ Gala, Conference and Expo in Abu Dhabi. In addition to an awards ceremony, the three-day conference brings together global leaders in mobile application development for networking and knowledge exchange.

Bar said the award was “a great honor for everyone who has worked hard to make VozMob a success — IDEPSCA and LACAN workers, community organizers, Annenberg students and open-source programmers.””

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