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We’ve started!

With the assistance of our Reference and Advisory Board we established our first contacts with international organizations headquartered in Geneva and have a first series of meetings lined up for the end of July to present them with the concepts and ideas underpinning PI and discuss possible cooperation in developing PI with their needs and requirements at heart. We’ll share the results of these meetings in a subsequent post.

We also reinitiated contacts with the Liberia Peacebuilding Office and Amnesty International with whom we’ll run development workshops in the fourth quarter of 2014. We are also in close contact with another NGO which has developed a platform to gather and visualize information collected by SMS or voice. We need to further explore their technology and discuss possible future cooperation, but prospects look good.

While we’re at it, we also continue to explore funding opportunities. Over the course of June we finalized a teaming agreement with Free Press Unlimited with whom we will apply for funds to further develop and pilot People’s Intelligence.

The first lessons learned so far:

  • If you can, rely on your existing contacts within organizations you intend to approach, or be introduced at a high level by some of your supporters, in our case members of our Reference and Advisory Board. We’ve been most successful lining up meetings in a matter of days using such an approach, and much less so when attempting to penetrate organizations where we’ve had no prior contacts.
  • On the funding side, be prepared to answer tough questions from potential donors, who may only have ten minutes to listen to your pitch and ask questions such as: “Do you know such and such other project? How is yours any different?” while misspelling the project’s name, which you happen to know. But having misspelled it, you have been taken off guard and do not have a readily answer to provide. If unsure, ask your interlocutor to reiterate his question.

Project overview:

The Humanitarian Innovation Fund is funding People’s Intelligence (PI), which intends to automate the collection of relevant human rights and humanitarian information from hard-to-access areas and verify it using crowd-sourcing and “dumb” mobile phones. Once developed, PI will address many of the shortcomings of current documentation initiatives using crowd-sourcing: lack of relevant and quality information, no or limited assessment of the reliability of the sources and the credibility of the collected information, reliance on the Internet, lack of feedback loops and limited empowerment of those reporting information. To solve these problems, PI will makes use of low cost GSM technology (e.g. SMS, USSD and voice) to establish a conversation with victims and witnesses of an incident to collect and guarantee relevant and quality information.

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