In an encouraging sign for the organizers, the finalists ultimately rose above strong competition by proposing innovative ways for microworkers with mobile access to supplement their income while tackling such pressing development challenges as environmental conservation, access to health care and education, and social publishing.
In the environmental sphere, Alexander Shakaryan of Armenia was recognized for “MicroForester,” a distributed reforestation project that drew a runner-up mention for the fourth spot prize. “Game Tracking and Identification,” an initiative by South Africa’s Karl Zöller, deploys microworkers in the fight against illegal poaching of endangered species.
Double spot-prize winners Nadia Millington of Trinidad and Tobago and Luis Rosenthal of Brazil advanced to the final round with “Microwork, medical mobile diagnostics,” which would allow paraskilled health technicians to deliver medical information to remote areas. Similarly, “Smart Blackboard: Micro-Tutorials” by Nancy Wang of Kenya would allow hundreds of thousands of unemployed or underemployed teachers to work directly with children who struggle in overcrowded schools.
Innovators also pinpointed the promise of mobile microwork for making data available and accessible to all. “Microwork-based Social Publishing for Empowerment,” by Jeongtae Kim of the Republic of Korea, would expand a UNESCO project’s ability to spread valuable texts in all language, while “RealTime GPS Traffic Update through Rickshaw Drivers,” by Aadhar Bhalinge of India, would organically crowdsource maps at very low cost in developing nations.
In the spirit of open, inclusive innovation, the organizers designed the challenge to select one finalist from each of infoDev’s five strategic mobile innovation regions and a sixth one from the rest of the world.
The jury will announce the grand prize winner on May 17, 2012.
*Pictured on top: Left, Alexander Shakaryan. Right, Jeongtae Kim. Bottom row: Luis Rosenthal and Nadia Millington.