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NetSquared Challenge: What Will Cell Phones Do Next?
Julia Levitt, 19 Mar 09

netsquared2.jpgSan Francisco-based NetSquared (an initiative of TechSoup) is currently collecting entries for its fourth annual challenge. The contest helps to get social benefit projects off the ground.

Winners in the contest's first three years have included worldchanging innovations FreeCycle,, and Ushahidi. This year, a total of $50,000 in prize money will be split among first-, second- and third-place winners.

The contest has shifted its focus exclusively toward innovations in mobile technology. With mobile phones in the hands of 2.2 billion people worldwide, says the NetSquared website, "mobile technology provides every day people with unprecedented computing power and an ability to share information in real-time."

Just browsing the entries in the N2Y4 Project Gallery is pretty inspiring. Here are a few standout projects in a pool of excellent work:

The HarassMap gives Egyptian women a tool for reporting incidents of sexual harassment in real time to help promote safer streets.

ClaimsMobile makes it easier for staffers in rural Ugandan clinics to keep track of medical and financial information for their patients.

Assured Labor helps match willing workers around the world with honest employers, using partnerships, referrals and ratings to provide assurance that both parties are reliable.

Fluid Nexus allows groups of people to communicate with one another in the absence of a centralized cellular network. (The team behind the project imagines it as a crucial tool for relief workers during a national disaster, which is a need that we've discussed before on Worldchanging.)

Check out the N2Y4 site to read more about projects that will use mobile phones to connect commuters with shared rides; help people in high-risk areas make sure their prescription drugs are safe; provide secure data management for journalists, researchers and witnesses, and more. You can even begin a discussion with the innovators and others by leaving a comment in the project gallery.

Do you have an idea for a solution of your own? NetSquared will be accepting entries through April 3.

Image source: NetSquared.

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Netsquared is also hosting the mobile applications for human rights (University of Berkley) Mobile Challenge. Submissions ended today and voting begins on Monday 23rd of March.

There are over 40 projects there and the top 10 will go through to the final.

Posted by: rob allen on 20 Mar 09

Competitions like this one at NetSquared are excellent platforms for pushing innovation forward. With respect to mobile phones there is a tremendous amount of hype and also a huge range of projects. It would be great to see some attention paid to the monitoring and evaluation of these projects to add some testing rigor to the field.

Posted by: AB on 22 Mar 09

Another great entry to check out is GoodGuide, a mobile application that allows you to find safe, healthy, green products while in the store. A team of scientists has evaluated over 70,000 consumer products for their social, health, and environmental impacts, and the information is all available while you shop on your iPhone or through text messaging. Read the GoodGuide profile in the N2Y4 Challenge gallery and vote today:

Posted by: GoodGuide on 6 Apr 09

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