ICT4D HCI Guidelines: A study for Developing Countries

T. Devezas, J. Mashapa, L. Ndame, D. Greunen, C. Carreira and B. Giesteira

(Steyn, J., Van Greunen, D. (Eds). (2014). ICTs for inclusive communities in developing societies. Proceedings of the 8th International Development Informatics Association Conference, held in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. ISBN: 978-0-620-63498-4 Pages 189-205)

This paper presents a set of research-based Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) guidelines for developing countries. The proposed guidelines were developed under the umbrella of the Fraunhofer AICOS (FhP) ICT4D Competence Center (ICT4DCC). The ICT4DCC follows a collaborative model known as ‘Interface Institute’ and aims to develop ICT solutions through partnerships between scientific and industry institutions from Europe and developing African countries. By exploiting this collaborative environment, we aim to validate and refine the guidelines by applying them in products targeted at developing countries users. To this end, two of the ICT4DCC partners, the Nelson Mandela MetropolitanUniversity (NMMU) and Eduardo Mondlane University Informatics (CIUEM) are collaborating on the design and development of a mobile application for hydroponic farming following a User- Centered Design (UCD) approach. Insights from a usability evaluation of a functional prototype conducted with the intended users in South Africa were used to validated the guidelines. Further more, highlights on how the model implemented by the ICT4DCC can be a privileged medium to better serve the potential users through the implementation of these guidelines.

Malaria Scope’s User Interface Usability Tests: Results Comparison between European and African Users

T. Devezas, L. Domingos, A. Vasconcelos, C. Carreira and B. Giesteira

Presented in: AFRICOMM 2014, 6th International Conference on e-Infrastructure and e-Services for Developing Countries, held on 24-25 November, 2014 - Kampala, Uganda

Malaria is one of the most severe public health problems worldwide. It is estimated that 3.3 billion people live in areas at risk of malaria transmission, and in 2010 caused around 655,000 deaths, 91% of them in the African Region. In this study we assess if the mHealth application “MalariaScope” developed by Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS (FhP AICOS) found to be usable and satisfactory by users from a European country, Portugal, can achieve similar positive results in an African country, Mozambique, which is one of its intended contexts of use. To this end, an academic partner from that African country conducted locally a usability evaluation of the application following the same procedure with participants with similar scientific backgrounds to the Portuguese counterparts. A comparison of the usability metrics of the two evaluations found no significant differences between the Portuguese and Mozambican set of users.

Framework for Offline Mobile Data Communications

R. Oliveira, V. Teixeira, D. Elias

2014 Tech4Dev International Conference

The African mobile market is the fastest growing mobile market worldwide, and prices for related technologies, including smartphones, are falling rapidly. The number of mobile device users is growing so fast that there are predictions that those countries will miss the PC era and will accomplish all their needs through smartphones and alike. Many people have adopted mobile phones for daily tasks, which range from basic communication with relatives to small family business support, either for communicating with customers or receiving service requests. However, missing or intermittent network coverage and low available bandwidth still pose serious barriers to mobile applications which rely on the Internet, especially in rural areas. Additionally, even though mobile phones and even smartphones entry prices are quickly falling, shared phone usage in developing countries remains a very common reality.

Taking these two facts into account, a framework called PostboxWeb has been developed and tested for Android OS which addresses the aforementioned issues. On top of this framework, a developer is able to create offline-capable native Android applications linked to REST services, which synchronize their data with the network only when sufficient connectivity is available. The framework supports data caching, multi-user access and sensitive data protection. The framework allows interested parties to adapt to these countries’ realities as it is multi-user-capable with the possibility to manage users and possesses an incorporated personal data storage space that corresponds to each user, thus taking into account the prominent reality that shared phones are a common usage model in developing countries. There is also the possibility of profiling the users and logging their network traffic volumes to support a paid business model thus creating an additional new model for communications and phone rental. In addition to this, the increased processing power and available sensors in the smartphone (e.g., GPS) provide an excellent way to manage and collect information for applications like medical surveillance, which can be tailored to developing countries.

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Automatic Detection of Malaria Parasites in Thick Blood Smears Using Smartphones

L. Rosado, V. Teixeira, D. Elias and J. M. Costa

Presented in: UNESCO Chair in Technologies for Development: What is Essential? held in 4-6 June, 2014 - EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland [TH2-SE02-09]

Malaria is one of the most severe public health problems worldwide. It is a leading cause of death and disease in many developing countries, where young children and pregnant women are the groups most affected. It’s estimated that 3.3 billion people (half the world’s population) live in areas at risk of malaria transmission, and in 2010 caused around 655,000 deaths, 91% of them in the African Region 1. Thus, there is an urgent need of new tools that can facilitate the rapid and easy diagnosis of malaria, especially in areas with limited access to quality healthcare services. This work aims to create a mobile-based solution that can provide an effective pre-diagnosis of malaria to be used in medically underserved areas. It is intend to use the new generation of cellular phones in the system architecture, which exhibit significant improvements in terms of image acquisition and image processing and that are becoming widespread worldwide, even in developing countries, and to create a magnification gadget that can be connected to the smartphone and provide the necessary magnification capability.

For the optical magnification the project aims to develop a cheap alternative, to the current microscopes, that can easily be adapted to a smartphone and to be used in the field. The aim is to use the smartphone built-in camera to capture the images for further analysis. The process will be to place the smartphone in the adapter along with the blood smear and have the smartphone image sensor to record a set of magnified images. This collection of images will then be processed, analyzed and provide the patient diagnose. It is expected that the step for recording the several images to use a fixed magnification factor, discarding the need for a complex mechanical mechanism (currently available in a typical microscope). It will be a bonus to obtain a self-powered motorized automated stage system that can move the blood smear and allow the capture of several snapshots of the sample to obtain more reliable results. The initial image processing tasks are already being developed, and promising results are being achieved in the identification of the parasitemia levels. The initial results are being conducted in cooperation with the Instituto Nacional de Saúde Dr. Ricardo Jorge, Infectious diseases Department under the supervision of Dr. José Manuel Costa, in Portugal. A prototype smartphone application and a smartphone magnification box aimed for low cost production is underway. It is expected that this provides a cheap and alternative solution to the Malaria Rapid Diagnosis Tests (RTDs) allowing to be conducted at early stages of the disease.

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Mobile and Health system challenges in Sub-Sahara countries

D. Elias, V. Teixeira and R. Oliveira

Presented in: Simpósio em ENGENHARIA BIOMÉDICA

Health systems in low and middle income countries continue to face considerable challenges in providing high-quality, affordable and universally accessible care. To face these problems, healthcare practices supported by electronic processes and communications started to be implemented in what can be enlightened as a context-specific, politically-aware and socially sensitive eHealth. The incorporation of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) is showing promising results, leading to more equitable health outcomes, improved health equity and stronger health systems. Overall, mHealth innovative approaches aim to eliminate the geographic and financial barriers to healthcare in developing countries (Ruxwana, Herselman, & Conradie, 2010).

Mobile phones are becoming the most rapidly adopted technology in history and the most popular and widespread personal technology in the world. Additionally, they play an increasingly important role in providing access to the Internet. During the last decade, developing countries are experiencing an unprecedented increase in the number of users of cell phones and internet technologies, as well as a decline in the price of these devices and services. Access to mobile networks is available to 90% of the world population, and to 80% of the population living in rural areas, according to the ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators database (Deloitte & GSMA, 2012). The use of mobile phones in healthcare, mHealth, is a new branch of eHealth that has great potential to save lives. For example, equipping field health workers with mHealth skills and phone applications can improve health-related communication so that authorities can quickly take action when necessary. The objective is to reduce the distance between healthcare users, providers and planners (Koehler, Vujovic, & McMenamin, 2013). Moreover, the information that computerized analyses can provide is lifesaving rather than just informative or revenue-increasing, like much of what was being performed in developed countries. The technology base exists and has promising growth, but issues like ICT illiteracy and illiteracy of a considerable percentage of SSA population, associated to local languages only spoken on the most of rural areas, obliges pertinent considerations for R&D focused on user friendly design to such a target group. Most needs of ICT illiterate aged people on developed countries present corresponding and increased challenges on SSA populations. If in developed countries it’s a must an ICT leveraging to help and take care of older and aging persons while not being in the doctor’s office nor in a hospital, taking in account the inevitable lack of money and human resources to face the demographic shift, a reliable framework is missing in order to develop business cases, which are needed by the industry to start investing in products and services development. This paper will focus on the Sub-Saharan African mHealth reality, especially on the Mozambican scenario and the projects developed. First, the main needs for African healthcare are exposed, followed by the current tendencies and some projects that are being developed, namely by Fraunhofer under the Competence Center for ICT4D project, in cooperation with Mondelaine University in Mozambique and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa. Then, a more detailed analysis of mHealth is made focusing on the situation in Mozambique.

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Innovation in Digital Street Libraries to Enhance Social Development and Cultural Cooperation

P. Almeida, V. Teixeira, R. Oliveira and D. Elias

Presented in: Simpósio Inovação em Engenharia na Cooperação para o Desenvolvimento

Africa has rich and diverse cultural traditions, but artists and cultural entrepreneurs have limited means to disseminate and distribute their cultural materials. For example, Mozambique has a vibrant film industry, but there are limited places to screen films. Also in Mozambique, the number of book publishers has decreased from over 50 to 15, making access to printed books more difficult. In Ghana, as part of the Poverty Reduction Strategy [IMF, 2012], the government recognized the need for increased means of distribution of arts by agreeing to create avenues for distribution of art, exhibitions, and live performances. The Ghana Book Trust developed a book distribution program in order to promote a greater access to books and culture. In Cameroon, artists may receive support for performances from the government, and UNESCO is funding projects to catalogue audio-visual materials. In Liberia, artists have expressed the need for more means of distributing cultural materials as well as more government/sponsor support. However, more than 45% of youth are estimated to be illiterate. Sabre, an international NGO, managed a book distribution in Liberia, but the NGO recently discontinued this program worldwide. Even in countries where the government or sponsors provide support for exhibitions or performances, the events happen for a short period of time and are often not accessible to people living in rural areas.

In addition to a lack of access to cultural materials, low means of distribution also have an economic impact on artists and cultural entrepreneurs. A 2010 UNCTAD [UNCTAD, 2010] report found that while South-South trade of cultural goods and services was $60 billion, Mozambique exported less than $5 million of cultural goods and services while importing over $50 million. This shows both a trade gap and a potential for growth. These problems are interrelated because they involve access to literary culture (both written and oral), visual culture, and music for the beneficiaries (children and local populations). One of the main barriers identified in the cultural sector is that web technologies, modern and accessible search systems and content creation tools are not yet widely available for most African countries. Besides these barriers, other problems to be addressed are the need for greater access to libraries (and to books and audio-visual materials), the means to preserve cultural traditions, the lack of mobile distribution tools for cultural goods, and the need for income/entrepreneurial opportunities for artists and cultural entrepreneurs. Besides the technology limitation, or the prohibiting costs to make these technologies spread and accessible by the population, there is also the fact that most African countries still suffer from a low literacy rate (Definition of literacy: age 15 and over can read and write;) Facts according with CIA World Fact book [CIA, 2012] show: Cameroon: 75.9%, Ghana: 67.3%; Liberia: 60.8%, Mozambique: 56.1%. Based on the above, a consortium composed by 5 partners and 3 associates from 6 different countries (Portugal, Ghana, Liberia, Cameroon, Mozambique and France) presented a proposal to the EU-ACP Support Programme to Cultural Industries in ACP countries: ACP Street Libraries – Culture for all. Fraunhofer AICOS, toghether with Microsoft Portugal, three local NGOs (VPWA – Volunteer Partnerships for West Africa, Ghana; ASRAD – Appui Solidaire Pour Le Renforcement De L’aide Au Developpement, Cameroon; YCWL – Youth Crime Watch of Liberia, Liberia) and three CSOs (SudPlanète – Africultures, Associação de Leigos Voluntários Dehonianos, PportoMuseus), will enable the E2E user experience of applications to be developed in the scope of the project. They represent a full set of complementary competences regarding their core activities and specializations. By joining forces, the partners and the associates of the project aim to deliver a multicultural platform and identify public/private enterprises and organizations, aligned the project goals, which can benefit from the project results. This paper presents the ACP Street Library project and shows its contribution to the development of culture in ACP [ACP, 2012] countries, mainly by promoting the creation of new Street Libraries and the modernization of existing ones. It details some of the activities foreseen in the project, which are related with the ACP Cultural sector promotion and consolidation mainly by encouraging the preservation of local cultures that are currently only transmitted in oral format and by creating new Mobile apps that will be integrated with existing databases, namely SudPlanète [SPLA, 2012]. It will be depicted an integrated approach in distribution networks by the implementation of new Street Libraries in the countries where the actions will take place, i.e., Ghana, Liberia, Cameroon and Mozambique, by increasing the number of books available for oral reading in ACP Street Libraries [VPWA, 2012] and by promoting the creation of an ACP local culture database. The project also proposes to address access to literary culture, visual arts, and music through mobile phones. Street Libraries have the capability to reach wide audience and also provide a direct physical link with the end-users in the locations where the actions will take place. Still only by providing a cost effective set of services and features will allow actual and future cultural entrepreneur’s, NGOs and private and public institutions to leverage the development of this cultural action at regional, national and international level and maximizing its impact on local population’s, especially in children and young people. It is key to transfer technology to local entities in the beneficiaries’ countries, ensuring that there is significant capacity building in local agents so that they are able to maintain and scale up the project upon its delivery.

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