Information Access for Low-Resource Environments


Francis Dittoh (University for Development Studies)
Hans Akkermans (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
Victor de Boer (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
Anna Bon (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
Wendelien Tuyp (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
André Baart (Bolesian BV)

Session: 1.2D: Investigating online communities

Abstract: In Africa, and other places around the world, there are numerous people who do not have access to information from the World Wide Web or from other sources. This is not an issue of infrastructure only, but also of cultural and social factors, including low literacy. Most rural communities in the Northern sector of Ghana fall in this category, where information in written form and/or in English is not accessible due to the inability of a majority of community members to read and write. In this paper, we present a case study of an appropriate ICT4D methodology in the development of an system hosted in low-resource areas with empirical data from context analysis from the rural communities and other stakeholders, which guides the design process, and analysis of Usability, Learnability and Availability that shows the success of the specific design decisions made based on the Methodology. The project focuses on available technologies and the most appropriate information format by providing a system that relies on GSM (input) and FM Radio (output), in the local language(s) of the community. The system was deployed in 5 rural communities, reaching a total of almost 1000 people, providing them primarily farming-related information.