Monday, May 19, 2008

Wireless and Mobile Media in Asia for Disasters

Greeting from the official opening of the MobileMonday Global Summit. As with the Malaysian Corporate Governance Conference the opening was far more formal than in Australia, with Malaysian dignitaries as well as an the ambassador to Finland.

Also Madanmohan Rao from Bangalore introduced himself to me, as he was speaking next on the day on emergency us of mobiles. He has edited several books on mobiles and Internet in Asia. He started his talk on the "mobile mandate". He talked about how mobile can be used in disasters. He argued that mobiles are the most important communications devices. He talked about SMS warnings, RFID tagging of relief supplies, Mesh networks and WiMax in a box used in Hurricane Katrina. One example was using SMS to send funds from Malaysia, the SMH asking for SMS about friends in the disaster, Chinese text messages to reassure about aftershocks to avoid panic, China mobile subscribers sending donations. In the case of recent terrorist attacks the phones on the victims were used to contact relatives.

Madanmohan Rao then talked about the "Wireless Ecosystem". He argued that nations need to ensure that they cultivate the mobile industry. He categorized countries into categories, such as restrictive (Myanmar), to Negotiating (China), to "Mature" (Australia) and "Advanced" (Japan and Korea).

Encik Badlisham Ghazali , CEO of the Malaysian government's Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC, previously MDC) gave his formal talk (he must be having a busy day at the conferences). He said that the government aimed to move from 15% to 50% broadband penetration by 2010. He pointed out that mobile devices had a role to play. He also said that this opens up a new area for reaching out to the population, for political as well as commercial use.

I was not previously familiar with the MobileMonday organization. Normally, the name would be enough to put me off looking further, but in this case they seem to be an interesting blend of mobile business people and some researchers. There is a Sydney Chapter.

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