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Civil society, tech team up

A stall member explains an educational product on a tablet yesterday at the Innovations in Development Technology Expo held at USAID’s Development Innovations office in Phnom Penh
A stall member explains an educational product on a tablet yesterday at the Innovations in Development Technology Expo held at USAID’s Development Innovations office in Phnom Penh. POST STAFF

Civil society, tech team up

With security footage of elephants, clouded leopards and other wildlife caught on hidden cameras in Cambodia’s Eastern Plains flashing on a TV screen, Toby Eastoe of Conservation International noted that their cameras also catch other activity.

“There’s heaps of illegal logging, and we’re trying to help the government put a stop to it,” explained Eastoe, who wants to make the land a protected area.

Conservation International – which uses everything from hidden cameras to drones to catch footage of species that are all too rare and illegal activity that is all too common – were some of the hundreds who gathered yesterday at Development Innovations (DI), a USAID project, to discuss the intersection of technology and civil society.

Presenters ranging from anti-corruption advocates to health service workers exhibited technology they are using or developing in their efforts.

The program aims to support new ways for civil society and other groups to use technology to facilitate their missions, said Development Innovations’ innovation adviser Samuel Ng.

“The essence is [focusing on] people and projects as the core,” Ng said. “We don’t make things just for the hell of it.”

In a speech at the exposition, Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron said he signed a memorandum of understanding with USAID to expand the use of laptop computers and tablets in classrooms.

The Education Ministry has already introduced a pilot program for students in grades 9 through 12, which gives them tablets, he said.

“[The growth of technology is] creating challenges so far in Cambodian society, but it’s also creating great opportunities,” he said.

NGO Transparency International yesterday presented the “Bribespot” smartphone application. The tool allows users to report when they’re shaken down for bribes and where it happened. The app then uses Google Maps to show where this takes place most often.

HIV Flagship Project is working on apps that allow users to figure out their risk level for contracting the disease.

“Technology is kind of cross-cutting,” said Larry Campbell, vice president of information and technology for DAI, a technology firm. “Technology can enable us to do this.”

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