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Using Technology Design for Health: A Photo Essay about the InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia

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Phnom Penh, Cambodia is a city that quickly inspired me with a vibration of optimism and energy. A place with a violent history that was emerging and growing its entrepreneurial spirit rapidly.
BY SIMON GREEN

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Using Technology Design for Health: A Photo Essay about the InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia

  1. 1. UsingTechnology Design for Health: A Photo Essay about the InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia BY SIMON GREEN
  2. 2. As  a  marketing  specialist  and   frequent  traveler,  I’ve  been  to   some  exotic  destinations.  But   never  to  Asia.   Phnom  Penh,  Cambodia  is  a  city   that  quickly  inspired  me  with  a   vibration  of  optimism  and  energy.   A  place  with  a  violent  history  that   was  emerging  and  growing  its   entrepreneurial  spirit  rapidly.  
  3. 3. I  was  curious  about  was  how   Phnom  Penh  had  become  a  hub   for  innovation,  with  thousands  of   developers,  trainers,  NGO  and   government  employees,  and  how   the  InSTEDD  iLab  Southeast  Asia   fit  into  the  patchwork  of  the   region.
  4. 4. 2- I  first  met  my  contact  Tharum  Bun,  the  communications  lead,  and  Channe  Suy  Lan,   the  leader  of  the  iLab,  via  Skype  calls  months  before,  as  we  worked  on  media   projects  together.   One  of  the  mantras  of  InSTEDD  is  “If  you  don’t  go,  you  won’t  know.”  It  was  not   until  6  months  later  that  I  would  have  a  chance  to  truly  experience  the  mantra   myself.  I  was  going  to  Cambodia  to  work  with  the  iLab,  to  understand  and   document  the  iLab’s  human  centered  design  approach.
  5. 5. I  would  begin  on  my  first  work-­‐day  at  an  event  organized  with  the  Center  of   Disease  Control.  The  iLab  was  celebrating  the  official  launch  of  a  digital  disease   detection  initiative  with  the  CDC  Cambodia  (of  the  Ministry  of  Health).   I  watched  as  epidemiologists  and  reporters  conversed  with  executives  of   nonprofits  Skoll  Global  Threats  Fund  and  InSTEDD.   I  listened  to  a  translated  presentation  about    participatory  surveillance  by  Dr.  Ly   Sovann  of  the  CDC  Cambodia,  and  observed  a  live  demo  of  the  voice-­‐software   Verboice  by  Channe  Suy  Lan  of  the  InSTEDD  iLab. Pictured (Left to right): Eduardo Jezierski (InSTEDD), Channe Suy Lan (InSTEDD), Dr. Ly Sovann (CDC Cambodia), Dr. Mark Smolinksi (Skoll Global Threats Fund), & Mr. Samnang (CDC Cambodia)
  6. 6. When  I  first  visited  the  iLab  location,  I  noticed  that  in  the  breakout  room  that  two   developers  were  working  on  something,  so  I  peeked  in  and  learned  that  Channa   and  Mesa  were  working  on  a  project  for  the  World  Food  Program,  to  help   transition  a  paper-­‐based  classroom  reporting  system  to  a  digital  one,  which  would   save  schools  and  provinces  months  of  otherwise  wasted  time  and  resources.
  7. 7. I  watched  over  the  next  week  as  they  improved  upon  their  work  plans  with   meetings  involving  different  stakeholders,  including  outside-­‐training,  to  come   closer  to  a  solution  that  would  work  for  the  people  using  it.  I  learned  first-­‐hand   that  the  iLab  approach  is  not  about  creating  something  and  shipping  it.  The   human-­‐centered  approach  is  about  iterating,  and  looping  in  the  end-­‐user  as   much  as  possible.  
  8. 8. I  was  later  introduced  to  Thyda  and  Mouyleng,  two  young  coders,  who  started  at   the  iLab  as  interns,  but  were  now  writing  the  code  for  this  paper-­‐to-­‐digital   software.  I  was  impressed  with  the  work  ethic  of  the  team,  watching  as  they   chatted  and  coded  together  for  the  entire  day.
  9. 9. Every  morning  the  team  has  what’s  called  a  “stand-­‐up  meeting”  where  they   explain  to  each  other  what  they  are  working  on,  and  any  difficulties  they  are   facing.  The  senior  developers  help  to  guide  the  junior  developers,  and  they   rotate  from  project  to  project,  allowing  for  new  perspectives  and  new  angles  on   existing  challenges  and  emerging  developments.    
  10. 10. I  must  also  mention  the  variety  of  people  who  visit  the  iLab.  Every  day  I  watched  as   people  from  sectors  like  malaria  detection,  CDC  Cambodia,  and  rural  clean  water   distribution  visit  to  discuss  big  plans  and  existing  projects  with  members  of  the   development  team.   The  door  was  open  to  all  sectors,  big  and  small,  from  small  nonprofit   entrepreneurs  to  representatives  from  large  government  organizations.  I  had   never  before  seen  such  a  diverse  representation,  where  all  are  welcome  to  learn   from  each  other.  This  open  architecture  allows  a  free  flow  of  information  and  new   ideas.  
  11. 11. Throughout  the  week  I  worked  closely  with  Tharum  at  the  iLab  to  plan  and   produce  media  assets  to  support  the  CDC  Cambodia  digital  reporting  launch.  We   worked  to  explain  what  the  iLab  was  doing,  and  who  was  involved  in  the   process.  We  interviewed  executives,  senior  coders,  and  junior  coders.  We   scripted,  translated,  and  transcribed  the  video.  We  worked  closely  with  a  video   team  and  produced  various  footage.  We  spent  hours  per  day  in  the  breakout   room,  planning  and  discussing,  and  yet  we  felt  energized  with  the  progress  we   were  making.
  12. 12. The  InSTEDD  iLab  mission  is  to   improve  global  health,  safety,  and   sustainable  development,  by   working  side-­‐by-­‐side  with  end-­‐ users  in  the  field.  Sustainable   development  that  makes  an   impact.  That’s  what  the  iLab  is   about,  and  there  are  other  labs  in   the  world  that  have  adopted  a   similar  methodology.  This  agile   approach  is  what  makes  real   impact  while  reducing  waste  of   resources,  in  my  opinion.   It’s  an  approach  that  I  hope  to  see   replicated  in  more  places  across   the  world.
  13. 13. My  intention  was  to  visit  the  iLab  and  help  to  better  tell  its  story.   The  iLab  Southeast  Asia  is  a  special  place  that  is  creating  the  future  leaders  of  the   region.  The  open,  collaborative  approach  deserves  to  be  better  understood  so   that  more  organizations  can  adopt  similar  processes.   I  will  continue  to  work  together  with  the  iLab,  and  I  feel  confident  that  its  impact   will  continue  to  grow  greater,  and  help  create  additional  iLabs  around  the  world.
  14. 14. For  more  information,  visit:   www.ilabsea.org

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