Sunday, October 19, 2014

Help African journalists to develop prototypes against the epidemic

Epidemics create panic, irrational information, dangerous rumours and uncertified facts, which can all generate chaos. Journalists must be prepared to fight all collateral damage associated with Ebola. Unfortunately journalists on the ground don’t have the necessary resources and tools that match the responsibility they have to inform local communities. This is why the Global Editors Network has decided to gather local journalists to empower them with the expertise to develop new applications and online tools that can save lives. New technologies and social networks will be crucial for covering and preventing the epidemic from spreading. Please help us to develop new prototypes!

Why Ghana? 

Ghana's proximity to extremely infected areas makes it a high priority location to intervene. Media in Ghana need to be ready with the right tools to fight Ebola. Ghana’s media is one of the most liberal in Africa, ranking 27th in the World Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders, which makes it the 3rd in Africa.
 Over half of Ghana's population of 26 million (2013 figure) have access to the Internet. Social media is booming. Facebook counts more than 5 million Ghanaians. Over 90% of the population have cellphones, yet few of these are smartphones. Ghana's rapid technological progress urges the support from a broader more resourced journalism community to help local media. 

What is the Global Editors Network?

The Global Editors Network (GEN) is a non-profit organisation with 1000+ editors-in-chief from 80 countries seeking to empower journalists through innovation. GEN has been organising Hackdays around the world for the past 3 years. We have held similar events in Egypt, South Africa, Morocco and Nigeria. It is our responsibility to bring innovation where it is most needed. This is why we have decided to gather funds to hold this event in Ghana (and elsewhere in Africa, see below). The fight against Ebola is common ground for the worldwide community of engaged journalists. 

Meet our partner and host PenPlusBytes

PenPlusBytes (PPB) is a Pan-African non-profit organisation based in Accra, seeking to empower media through new technology. PenPlusBytes focuses on developing social media, mobile applications and media monitoring. PPB's on-site knowledge and network will be a huge help in promoting this event. They will be essential in shaping the event and assisting the GEN experts to reach out to as many local journalists as possible. The event will take place at the International Institute for ICT Journalism headed by Kwami Ahiabenu (photo above). 
We also would like to thank BBC for their support in producing the video and helping us in this initiative. 

The impact 

1. First objective: to provide the means and expertise for local journalists to develop digital tools based on mobile crowdsourcing. Our goals include:
- Diffusing prevention measures to all
- Debunking rumours that can be fatal
- Locating infected areas and establish security perimeters
- Connecting the population with health authorities
- Developing small communities of proactive citizens. 
Here is a great example of a data-base of illustrations about key Ebola information from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
2. Our second objective: Prototypes will be open source meaning that all news organisations in West Africa who are interested in civic engagement will be able to access the codes for these prototypes and develop them from their own newsrooms. Some takeaways for participants include: 
-  A bound-together environment for collaboration in news innovation
-  Access to a network of international experts to help them develop new tools
-  New prototypes to inform populations about Ebola.
Here is another great example about how the U.S. government is using data from cell phones to halt Ebola
3. Third objective: At the end of the event, each team's work will be presented to the online GEN Community and generate contributions from developers, designers and editors from the world-renowned news organisations. 
Last but not least, the winning team will be invited to present their project in front of 600+ editors-in-chief at the annual GEN Summit to be held in Barcelona, Spain on 10 - 12 June 2015. 

The format 

On 19 - 20 November, GEN and PPB will gather 30 journalists, developers and designers representing several well-established Ghanian media, startups and NGOs. Participants will benefit from workshops and insights from industry experts who will stay on site over the two days  to coach the teams throughout their development process. Participants will be able to develop both mobile applications and online tools. The winning team will receive post-event mentoring from senior developers within the GEN network in order to implement their prototype. 

The costs

We need $9,000 to make this possible. This money will be used to cover the logistics of the hackdays as well as travel costs and accommodation for two GEN team members (Programme Director and Social Media Director) and the post-mentoring process of the winning project. Your money will also allow the winning team to present their project in front of more 600 editors-in-chief at the GEN Summit in June 2015 in Barcelona.
Want to make a difference in the fight against Ebola? Help local media in Ghana develop new mobile applications and online tools. 
You can donate from $10 to $1200. Each donations have different rewards which are listed on the right side of this page. 
If we get more than $9,000, we will set up a new cycle of hackdays in Senegal and other African countries. Let's help the Ghanian community of media innovators develop life-saving tools.
Thank you so much!
Other articles/tools about making a change through journalism in the fight against Ebola:

Tim Unwin on the contribution of ICT's to overcoming the impact of Ebola. 
The evolution of the #Ebola on twitter infographic by Le Monde. 
2014 West Africa Ebola Response: How can you contribute by Wiki Open street Map
BBC launches Whatsap service in West Africa to fight Ebola

They are talking about us:

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