Early bird registration now open for ICT4D conference

February 28, 2014

Registration is open for the Game Changers Summit, a technology conference designed to help churches, universities and organizations connect their global mission agendas with technology solutions for the developing world. Attendees will learn step-by-step how to undertake a project in a developing country, as well as get advice from global experts and meet others with similar interests.

The 2-1/2 day conference, scheduled for Sept. 3-5 at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, features industry leaders in Information and Communications Technologies for Development (ICT4D). These award-winning companies, which include FrontlineSMS, Development Gateway, and Inveneo, are empowering communities in remote Africa, Asia and the Middle East to improve outcomes for health, education, safety, business and more.

More than a billion people worldwide lack access to electricity, but mobile phones, solar power and low-power computers are making technology – and information – accessible in ways that were not previously possible. Examples of ICT4D projects that The United Methodist Church is involved in include:

  • Haiti: The digital future is becoming the digital present as low-cost, low wattage computers powered by solar energy bring powerful education opportunities to communities there.
  • Democratic Republic of Congo: Text messaging software sends helpful and lifesaving information to hospitals, clinics, health centers and communities quickly and broadly via mobile phone, helping to fight the deadly spread of malaria.
  • The Philippines: After last year’s devastating typhoon, restoring mobile phone and radio communication networks has become a humanitarian priority to help with everything from air traffic control to monitoring disease to informing people where clean water, food and medical assistance is available.

United Methodist Communications organized the Game Changers Summit to equip churches that seek to help people in developing countries who are struggling to overcome poverty and lack of access to modern communications. The conference will help them learn about technology solutions that improve education and foster development, as well as connect them with experts familiar with the obstacles and technology that is appropriate for the environment.

“Historically, particularly in the development sector, outsiders have been seen as the ones with the best answers because they’ve had all the best resources, and the best access to the information to make use of them. The internet has changed much of this, as has the mobile phone,” said FrontlineSMS founder Ken Banks, a pioneer in the ICT4D field, in an interview that appeared in Huffington Post.

Mobile phones, in particular, are providing a powerful platform for allowing communities to solve social problems even in the most rural areas, said Banks, who will be the keynote speaker at the Game Changers Summit. “So, we live in an incredibly exciting time, one which is turning development on its head, and that's a good thing,” Banks said.

“At the end of the day, technology has to be sensitive and appropriate to the geographical, economic, technical, and cultural conditions of its users. If it’s not, it will often fail,” Banks added.

A host of expert speakers and presenters includes Chris Locke, a managing director at GSMA, the trade association for mobile operators worldwide; Maeghan Ray-Orton, manager of Medic Mobile’s East Africa program; Bruce Baikie, executive director of Inveneo and founder of Green WiFi; and Wayan Vota, co-founder of Kurante and senior manager of business development and external relations at Development Gateway. Learn about all of the speakers and presenters at www.umcom.org/gamechangers.

Early bird registration is $215 and ends April 30. After that, registration is $250. For more information, visit www.umcom.org/global.