The Sustainable Development Goals go mobile in Uganda

BY Gleh Huston Appleton | September 2, 2016|Comments 0

We are always running these days, as we are constantly on the move. We run to catch the bus, run to get a coffee, or run with a coffee to make an appointment.
As people deal with the many issues of life, they run with one thing in hand: a mobile phone.

When we run around with our phones, we carry family, love ones, associates and friends, and stay in touch. We also have all the world’s information at our fingertips.

“Nothing new here,” you might think.

But wouldn’t it be great if the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) touched people in a personalized, simple, intuitive, timely and interesting way through the one thing most of carry around in our pocket or purse?

Tapping into innovative initiatives

In Uganda, we ran with this idea, concluding that we could reach people best through a mobile app.

Which channel could we use to feed this app? Like many UN country teams, Uganda is developing an intranet (through which we publish announcements and information for public consumption and headlines) and we have a UN website.

Unlike others, we can tap into other innovative UN initiatives in data management and information such as Pulse Lab big data analytics (including the famous radio-mining project for development and the mobile air-time data for development), and the UNICEF U-Report (capturing the perceptions of young people on critical social issues).

We realized that all these initiatives enable us to make information related to the SDGs and other social issues accessible to the Ugandan people in real time, in one go.

We will constantly share data on the issues that matter the most to Uganda, Africa and the planet. Through our notifications we will increase awareness, facilitate the creation of communities of action and the exchange of experiences on common goals with national relevance such as the SDGs, the climate agreement, and the World Humanitarian Summit.

The benefits that we see

The mobile app will allow public users to access push notifications on UN-specific interventions nationally, regionally and globally.

Messaging may include headline stories on human rights, education, healthcare, and employment as well as on UN partnerships, joint UN initiatives and new UN initiatives on data revolution, amongst others. Other information may include pop-ups of deadlines, recruitment notices, and procurement notices.

and then we kept dreaming

While we place the SDGs at the center of the public’s mobile lifestyle, the app will also allow UN internal users to access key internal information on-the-go wherever they are.

For internal users, feeds in the app will include:

  1. Agencies vehicle movement schedules pushed from the fleet management system that would enable agencies and staff to jointly plan their field movements;
  2. Feeds about the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) and business operation strategy delivery rates and;
  3. Announcements of new joint common operational initiatives including new long term agreements and memorandum of understandings, internal announcements, etc.

This will further integrate the UN in Uganda, allowing for the ease of communications wherever a staff member is.

Most importantly, however, is what the app will provide external users. Through the many push notifications, users will be able to run with information about the SDGs in their hands, work with it in their pockets, and work out with it by their side, while paying attention to the very many issues of life on the go… putting the SDGs at the center of the mobile world for many people in Uganda!

Authors


Gleh Huston Appleton Gleh is the Field Coordination Officer at the United Nations in Uganda. You can follow him on Twitter.

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