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Weekly Wire: The Global Forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

5 Best Practices for Using Technology in Disaster Response
The Institute for Technology and Social Change
Working in humanitarian aid and disaster relief across several countries, I first joined the TechChange community as a student in the Tech Tools and Skills for Emergency Management online course in January 2012, and will soon be guiding discussions as a facilitator for the next round of the course that begins March 17, 2014. Since TechChange has offered this emergency management course six times since 2011, I’ve enjoyed stepping up my participation from student, to guest speaker, tech simulation demonstrator, to now a facilitator.In my opinion, disaster management is a field where nobody is really an expert in that different people have varied areas of expertise. A facilitated TechChange course like TC103 is an opportunity to get people of different backgrounds together, which is especially valuable in a field like disaster management, which evolves so quickly and can be tough to keep track of. Here are five lessons I have learned over the course of seven years of working in disaster response across Haiti, Liberia, Myanmar, Mali, and most recently the Philippines

Generate decent jobs 'or a billion people will remain in extreme poverty'
The Guardian
Up to a billion people will remain in extreme poverty by 2030 unless countries focus on inequalities and confront social, economic and cultural forces that block their escape or pull them back into impoverishment, a major report warns. The report (pdf) by the Chronic Poverty Advisory Network (CPAN) asserts that many people may rise above the poverty line of $1.25 a day, only to tumble back when they are hit by a combination or sequence of shocks such as drought, illness and insecurity or conflict.

The New Buzz at the Mobile World Congress
Grameen Foundation Insights Blog
For the past five years, most of the conversation about using mobile phones to provide financial services to the poor has revolved around the success of M-PESA in Kenya. As more players enter this space, that discussion is now shifting to two inter-related issues that were recurring themes at this year’s conference: usability and user-centered design. The concept of human-centered design in international development began taking root about five years ago and has only recently gained wider adoption in the financial services space. This was underscored in the Global Financial Development Report 2014, which pointed to the limited use of human-centered design processes as one of the reasons for the dearth of products and services that are “more conducive to financial inclusion.

How to freeze illicit financial flows
The Guardian
Any discussion on illicit financial flows – money that leaves countries through illicit activities like money laundering and bribery – seems to prompt the question: how much money are we talking about? A lot of effort currently goes into estimating it, but perhaps the crucial question to ask is what countries are doing to address it. A new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) measures responses to illicit financial flows from developing countries and analyses how OECD countries are tackling issues of money laundering, bribery, tax evasion, and asset recovery.

Black Market for Malware and Cyber Weapons is Thriving
Foreign Policy
The world of computer hackers who sell stolen credit card numbers, spyware, and cyber weapons is often likened to an "underground," a word that implies the existence of a place cut off from most Internet users and existing in a corner of the Web that most people never see. But a new report concludes that the markets actually function more like thriving bazaars subject to the same economic forces as legitimate stores. And just like those legitimate stores, the bazaars aren't that hard to find. A simple YouTube search can unearth dozens of videos describing how to use hacker kits to break into Web sites or steal bank account login credentials. Google "buy stolen credit cards" and you'll eventually get directions to dozens of storefronts that offer up pilfered account data.

The Pointlessness of Unplugging
The New Yorker
The fifth annual National Day of Unplugging took place earlier this month. The aim of the event, organized by the nonprofit Reboot, is “to help hyper connected people of all backgrounds to embrace the ancient ritual of a day of rest.” From sundown on Friday, March 7th, until sundown on Saturday, March 8th, participants abstained from using technology, unplugging themselves from their phones and tablets, computers and televisions. Many submitted self-portraits to Reboot holding explanations of why they chose to unplug: “to be more connected,” “to reset,” “to spend more time with my family,” “so my eye will stop twitching,” “to bring back the beauty of life,” “to be in the moment.” Not so long ago, those very reasons (except, maybe, for the eye-twitching) would have explained why many took to the devices that they were now unplugging: to connect with old friends, to talk with family across the world, to see beautiful places and curious creatures through photographs and documentaries, to relax for a few moments with music. But how quickly the digital age turned into the age of technological anxiety, with our beloved devices becoming something to fear, not enjoy.



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Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomite

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