While the headlines may be grabbed by billion dollar valuations of mobile services modelled on developed markets, India’s internet penetration remains alarmingly low. Providing those at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) with internet-enabled services like social media, entertainment, information and empowerment needs a different approach tailored to the realities of a vast majority of Indians. We’ve picked five award-winning mobile services that are pioneering the India-centric approach to ICT:
Promoted by Bell Labs and Founded by Pinky Chandran, Akhil Mathur, and Sharad Jaiswal, CommunityWeb is a radio based platform that allows communities to tune in to any network of their choice and listen in to broadcasts of their interests. The application can be downloaded even on low-end mobile phones which has allowed even grassroot inclusion to take place. People from various communities can listen in on programmes relevant to their tastes by just clicking on the app. Simple to operate, the app broadcasts in the local language and is manned by RJs who are actually members of the same community which effectively drives the success of the content strategy. This has greatly helped the app build trust and relevance. Discussions cover a range of topics from issues faced by the LGBT communities to civic problems. One major benefit of the app is that it isn’t affected by the usual reach related problems faced by other commercial stations due to poor network transmission issues in ‘shadow areas’.
NexGTV is a mobile based TV show viewing platform where users can watch a variety of shows ranging from general entertainment like hindi soaps, to Bollywood and Tollywood movies, to sports, and live news, on the go! The app is developed by Digiveve, a Bombay based service innovation company, and with 14 million downloads in its first year itself, has become the company’s flagship product. Users can opt for live as well as deferred show streaming on the NexGTV app which offers 100+ channels, including free as well as premium stations like StarTV and MTV. With a very attractive user interface, the app allows users to toggle between channels with ease with continuous streaming across multiple channels which provides users with a delightful experience. The app is platform agnostic and enables consumers to fulfil their TV entertainment needs whenever and wherever they may be, irrespective of bandwidth issues, further enhancing the user experience.
3. Mobile Vaani
Mobile Vaani, a mobile based Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, founded by Aaditeshwar Seth, under the aegis of Gram Vaani Community Media, is a social media platform for the bottom of the pyramid segment. The interactive platform is a user-friendly interface for members of this community to connect and engage with each other on a plethora of content topics, which include discussions, news and updates, opinions, grievance addressal, folk songs, among several others. People place a missed call on 08800097458 and the server returns their calls with an automated service which lists options to access the variety of content available. Mobile Vaani also allows other stakeholders – local entrepreneurs, coaching centres, self-help groups, private firms, public agencies, social sector partners, including others – with strategic interests in harnessing the potential of this segment to effectively interact with each other for impact driven engagements.
4. The Mobile Academy
Born out of a strategic partnership between BBC Media Action, the international charity arm of the BBC, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Mobile Academy launched Mobile Kunji to educate frontline health workers in the aspects of maternal and child health. The project aims to significantly reduce maternal and infant mortality in Bihar using the voice call feature on their mobile devices. The health workers use the platform’s interactive system and illustrated coded-for-mobile cards to pass on valuable knowledge about positive health practices that rural families can adopt to counter high mortality rates of mothers and infants. A fictional character called Dr. Anita, interacts with the families in the local dialect through the system, further bridging the communication gap.
VoiceRTI is a mobile platform conceptualised by Vivek Gilani under the aegis of the Informed Voter Project, an NGO founded by him, that allows voters to post key questions to their elected representatives via a phone call. The questions recorded by callers are routed to the website of Mumbai Votes, also an initiative of the project, and are then channelled to the respective MPs and MLAs for their replies.
This platform aims to break through literacy barriers as well as other complex terms and conditions associated with the process of filing applications to the government under the Right to Information Act (RTI). This channel has helped elected representatives develop awareness about people’s needs and concerns and has immensely reduced response turnaround. Also, for those public office bearers who have actually delivered on their promises, VoiceRTI is the ideal platform to claim credit for good performance.