Research – Community Media

I. Case-studies on the impact of ICT systems for community media

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Several initiatives have successfully brought impact from their community media deployments.

1. P. Mudliar, J. Donner, W. Thies, “Emergent Practices Around CGNet Swara, A Voice Forum for Citizen Journalism in Rural India”, ICTD 2012
[http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/thies/swara-ictd12.pdf]

Community: Rural populations in Chattisgarh
Results: There is a need for bridging agencies to push grievances on behalf of rural citizens and impose public pressure on government agencies for prompt action. Voice forums also help extend participation to the marginalized and bring their stories to mass media.

2. A. Seth, A. Katyal, R. Bhatia (IIT Delhi), D. Kapoor, Balachandran C, V. Venkat, A. Moitra, S. Chatterjee, M. Shivam, Z. Koradia (Gram Vaani), and P. Naidu (Action India), “Application of Mobile Phones and Social Media to Improve Grievance Redressal in Public Services”, Web Foundation M4D workshop
[http://www.cse.iitd.ernet.in/~aseth/m4dpositionpaper.pdf]

Community: Three case studies — slum communities in Delhi, rural communities in Jharkhand, urban educated population
Results: Public pressure on political representatives through mass media and social media channels such as Facebook improves grievance redressal rates, since politicians are directly accountable to people. Administrative officials often do not care about their public image, but they do appreciate internal tracking and statistical mechanisms.

3. R. Gandhi, R. Veeraraghavan, K. Toyama, V. Ramprasad, “Digital Green: Participatory video for agricultural extension”, ICTD 2007
[http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.128.8781&rep=rep1&type=pdf]

Community: Farmers in rural Madhya Pradesh
Results: Including local farmers in videos on agricultural best-practices and holding interactive community screenings of the videos helps accelerate the dissemination of good practices and knowledge sharing.

4. N. Patel, D. Chittamuru, A. Jain, P. Dave, T.S .Parikh, “Avaaj Otalo – A Field Study of an Interactive Voice Forum for Small Farmers in Rural India”, CHI 2010
[www.stanford.edu/~neilp/pubs/chi2010_patel.pdf]

Community: Rural farmers in Gujarat
Results: Voice-based question-answer forums hold great potential to encourage bottom-up knowledge sharing. Being local, the information automatically becomes relevant for the immediate community.

5. Z. Koradia, Balachandran C, K. Dadheech, M. Shivam, and A. Seth, “Experiences of Deploying and Commercializing a Community Radio Automation System in India”, ACM DEV 2012
[http://www.cse.iitd.ernet.in/~aseth/grins-scaling.pdf]

Community: Eco-system of community radio players in India
Results: There are significant challenges in scaling the use of ICT systems in rural areas, ranging from issues of training, technical support, genericity in development, and commercialization.

6. Farm Radio International, “Communicating with Radio: What Do We Know?”, Findings from a review of selected rural radio effectiveness evaluations
[http://www.farmradio.org/english/partners/afrri/communicating-with-radio.pdf]

Community: Evaluations from India, Tanzania, Philippines, Malawi, Mali, Ghana, Mozambique.
Results: Radio has tremendous scope to be used for agricultural extension, market price information, act as a social lubricant to mobilize communities, run health campaigns, and other initiatives. However, the capacity of staff running the stations needs to be built as well.

7. N. Patel, K. Savani, S. Klemmer, T. Parikh, “Power to the Peers: Authority of Source Effects for a Voice-based Agricultural Information Service in Rural India”, ICTD 2012
[www.stanford.edu/~neilp/pubs/ictd2012_patel.pdf]

Community: Rural farmers in Gujarat
Results: Bottom-up information sharing systems can deliver just as good results as expert based systems. In addition, peer-to-peer systems bring a higher involvement of the community than expert-based systems.

8. N. Singh, “Inverting the Frame: A Community Video Initiative in India”, MA in Social Work, TISS
[http://www.videovolunteers.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/research-project.PDF]

Community: Rural and sub-urban citizens in Gujarat
Results: Similar to community radio, community video too holds tremendous potential to create an alternate public sphere and mobilize communities to impose checks and balances on the abuse of power. Community media initiatives associated with human-rights organizations can create further transformational effects by converting community mobilization into action.

II. Voice-based and rich media technologies for community engagement in rural areas

Much of the initiatives described above have interesting technical and usability aspects to them. These include the following:

1. Z. Koradia, A. Premi, Balachandran C, and A. Seth, “Using ICTs to Meet the Operational Needs of Community Radio Stations in India”, ACM DEV 2010
[http://www.cse.iitd.ernet.in/~aseth/grinsdevict.pdf]

Describes the internals of GRINS, the community radio automation system developed by Gram Vaani. GRINS seamlessly integrates radio with telephony, providing rich featurs for the station to interface with its community.

2. A. Mahla, D. Martin, I. Ahuja, Q. Niyaz, and A. Seth, “Motivation and Design of a Content Distribution Architecture for Rural Areas”, ACM DEV 2012
[http://www.cse.iitd.ernet.in/~aseth/aseth-ruralcdn-v2.pdf]

Describes a delay tolerant content distribution architecture for rural areas, specifically meant for media distribution. The content-based architecture with data-control separation makes it unique and suitable for challenging rural environments.

3. David L. Johnson (UCSB), Veljko Pejovic (UCSB), Elizabeth M. Belding (UCSB), Gertjan van Stam, “VillageShare: Facilitating content generation and sharing in rural networks”, ACM DEV 2012
[www.cs.ucsb.edu/~ebelding/txt/dev2012.pdf]

Describes a local Facebook proxy that allows media sharing within small geographies, with delayed updates to Facebook during off-peak hours. Very useful for environments where the local ISP network is fast but the backhaul is slow, something prevalent in several African countries.

4. Agha Ali Raza, Roni Rosenfeld, Jahanzeb Sherwani, Christina Milo, Guy Alster, Umar Saif, Mansoor Pervaiz, Samia Razaq, “Viral Entertainment as Vehicle for Disseminating Speech Based Services to Low Literate Users”, ICTD 2012
[http://people.csail.mit.edu/umar/ICTD-CR.pdf]

Describes a voice-based social networking system for urban low-income communities in Pakistan. Several ways to boost community engagement were tried in a controlled experiment fashion with very interesting insights into gender and age specific behavior differences.

5. Z. Koradia and A. Seth, “Phonepeti: Exploring the Role of an Answering Machine System in a Community Radio Station in India”, ICTD 2012

Describes a simple leave-a-message telephony system deployed at a community radio station in India. Several insights were gained about usability, gathering specific feedback from communities, and categorizing the information being sought by the listeners.

III. Utilizing data collection in community engagement

Some organizations have taken a different route to collecting huge amounts of data, visualizing it, exposing it to people through media, to get people interested in local governance matters. This includes the following

- Transparent Chennai: Have collected data on traffic lights, garbage sites, socio-economic profiles of communities, etc, and exposed a cool map-building interface where you can layer different pieces of information on top of each other.
[http://www.transparentchennai.com/]

- Janaagraha: Their projects on I-Paid-a-Bribe, PROOF (Public Record of Operations and Finance), the Ward Infrastructure Index, and the most recent I-Change-My-City initiative have generated huge amounts of crowd-sourced and backend data that Janaagraha has used successfully to lobby with local civic agencies to improve their internal operations.
[http://www.janaagraha.org/]

- Karnataka Learning Partnership: An initiative by the Akshara Foundation, KLP has collected huge amounts of data about public schools in Karnataka. The data can be visualized on the browser and is regularly sent to the local MPs and MLAs to make them aware about the state of the educational infrastructure in schools in their constituencies.
[http://klp.org.in/]

- India Governs Research Institute: They have collected data from a large number of constituencies in Bangalore about implementation of the NREGA, and education and health schemes, in different villages. The reports are used to lobby with the administrative agencies to improve the delivery of public services.
[http://www.indiagoverns.org/]

- Accountability Initiative: Famous for their annual PAISA report, the Accountability Initiative also looks into the performance of schools in rural India and closely monitors the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
[http://www.accountabilityindia.in/]

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