Student from Trini...

Student from Trinidad wins m2Work's first spot prize

Idea on mobile medical diagnostics receives US $1,000

The first spot prize in infoDev's mobile microwork challenge, m2Work, was awarded to Nadia Millington from Trinidad and co-author Luis Rosenthal from Brazil for their idea - 'Microwork, medical mobile diagnostics.' The jury was impressed by Millington's and Rosenthal's vision of how microwork could be used to make medical diagnoses more efficient while creating jobs for microworkers in the developing world.

Nadia Millington, winner of m2Work's first spot prize.

The winners suggested an application through which semi-skilled microworkers can help doctors in the diagnosis of medical conditions, such as the identification of common eye diseases on digitized x-rays. The idea won against 94 other submissions that were considered.

Millington, who is originally from Trinidad & Tobago, is currently completing her PhD at the London School of Economics. Her research is about commercial business models for poverty alleviation at the base of the pyramid, the two billion poorest people in the world. The winners say they are committed to making a difference and they have done so in the past: for example, they co-founded a non-profit in Brazil called Mais Um.

The jury emphasized that many ideas had great potential, but only this idea on microwork for mobile medical diagnostics received high ratings in all four of the winning criteria. (1) Potential development impact: There is high demand for diagnostic services and the idea can create many jobs for microworkers. It could also have an indirect positive impact on the health of patients through making diagnoses more accurate and efficient. (2) Novelty and innovation: The idea covers a niche that has not yet been explored for mobile phones. (3) Feasibility: Although there are potential issues, for example, in terms of data security and medical malpractice (which Millington and Rosenthal themselves had identified), it seems realistic that microworkers could be helpful with medical diagnosis if health problems are sufficiently narrowed down and if workers undergo basic training and auditing. (4) Clarity of presentation: The idea was well-presented and illustrated through slides, including drawings and real-world examples.

Luis Rosenthal, co-author of the winning idea.

The submission by the two students was only one of many good mobile microwork ideas. The runner-up was a video transcription application. This idea was seen to have great potential, but the jury pointed out that similar services and technologies have already been implemented. The ‘Virtou’  Virtual Tourism application submitted by Vadim Neil from Russia came in third place. The jury stated that the idea of using mobile technology to bring remote places onto anyone’s digital screen is an interesting approach and it might be well-suited for mobile microwork. On the other hand, virtual tourism is already a known concept and the business model and feasibility were not clear enough from this submission.

Overall, the jury and infoDev were delighted with the quality of the top-tier submissions. Several judges noted that there was a learning curve within the innovator community – the later submissions tended to be better geared towards microwork-specific applications. This led the jury to believe that the concept of microwork is beginning to be better understood and it is looking forward to new ideas being submitted before the end of the challenge on April 2.

The m2Work community should keep the ideas flowing in: the submission deadline for the next spot prize is less than a week away, on February 20.

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