November 21, 2012

The Art of Creating Useful & Usable Tools: Resource Map UX Testing

post written by iLab Southeast Asia Software Developer,  Kengsreng Tang

InSTEDD has an entire platform of free and open source technologies that help people quickly share valuable information around health, safety and development issues. Resource Map is one of the tools that we’ve developed that works either through the web or through SMS.

Resource Map is an application that allows users to geographically map their resources so that they are always aware of what they have currently and what they need more of.  Users can update, query, receive alerts from the system and more simply by sending an SMS or updating the website online.  

Click to go to the Resource Map Website:

November 6, 2012

Real Time Collaboration with Resource Map for Android

According to the World Bank, around  75% of the world’s population has access to a mobile phone. As you can see from the image below, this number is significantly increasing over time, especially in developing world countries, such as Cambodia.

At InSTEDD, we see the advancement of the mobile phone as a growing opportunity to improve information sharing and collaboration to improve health, safety and sustainable development.  One of the ways we’ve taken advantage of this opportunity is through our open source Resource Map tool.

October 9, 2012

The Best Way to Learn is to Teach

Thor, the character in an American movie of the same name, is a superhero who carries a hammer that holds the incredible power of thunder.  This was the only understanding I had of “Thor”.

Recently, while working on Resource Map,  I encountered another type of Thor.  This time it was not a person, but a software code library. The idea of learning a new type of code was appealing to me and I was interested in learning more about it and experimenting.  Yet as time went by, I was never able to find the time to properly start, not even on the weekends.  From week to week, it always seem to be at the bottom of my to-do list.

September 14, 2012

WORKING AT THE iLAB SOUTHEAST ASIA: A personal experience by Channe Suy

I first learned about InSTEDD around end of 2008 when I was working with a social enterprise in Cambodia called Digital Divide Data.  InSTEDD’s CTO, Eduardo Jezierski along with a consultant from the Argentina based Clarius Consulting company, named Daniel, visited DDD in search for potential candidates to subcontracted with. At that time InSTEDD had not planned to set up their own office in Cambodia. They just thought of working in Cambodia for a short while to support the Ministry of Health as part of Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance Network (MBDS) program.

Stories from the Field: Malaria Project in Laos

Lao PDR is a country with a population of around 6 million people.  Most of these people live in hilly terrain and dense forests which makes them particularly vulnerable to Malaria carrying mosquitoes.  It is estimated that more than half of the population is at risk for contracting the disease.

image: WHO World Malaria Report 2011 -

August 30, 2012

Stories from the Field: A Local Perspective on the iLab Southeast Asia

A History of Social Service
I’ve always been drawn to work that gives me the opportunity to help people improve their lives and well being.  One of my first experiences working with a non profit was back in 1999.  I began working as a volunteer at the Khmer Youth Association (KYA) which focuses mostly on working with Cambodian youth in order to empower them to create positive social change in Cambodia.

After 3 years with KYA, I transitioned to a new role as Team Leader of Commune Election Council Investigation with the Committee for Free and Fair Election in Cambodia (COMFREL) in 2002.

July 17, 2012

Creating Tools that Locals Can Shape

Since most of our work is in low resource settings, most of the people who use our technologies have very little education.  We call these people "low level users".  Even though these users have little to no education, we still find that using technologies to help them share information is incredibly helpful.  The most important thing to remember when designing tools for them is to build on the skills and resources that they are already familiar with.

July 5, 2012

Learning and growing: from my first programming experience to the present

Remembering back to college, when I was first being taught how to program computers with HTML, my teacher demonstrated a web application he had made to calculate electricity expenses by entering the previous and current months’ electric meter numbers.  That moment was so amazing, and I looked at the demo without blinking.  I almost forgot to breathe as he said, “We were about to be able to do the same thing by the end of the day."  That was how engaging my first day as a software developer was for me.

June 27, 2012

Behind the Scenes at the iLab SEA: Friday Demos for Agile Software Development

Friday (ថ្ងៃ​សុក្រ​), both in Khmer and in most Romance Languages convey the same meaning as the "day of Venus".  In Cambodia, Friday marks the end of the work week for most of the foreign companies and organizations.
While you may think of wearing your lovely jeans with your favorite T-Shirt and sneakers on Friday, something even better than "Casual Friday" happens inside the iLab SEA.  Friday is the day where each of us shows off and surprises everyone with our new and improved features that we worked on that week.

June 20, 2012

Malaria Day Zero Alert System

The Malaria Day Zero Alert System had the first pilot test in Cambodia on August 1.  We are trying to use this new system instead of relying only on the paper based report because we know it has the potential to make reporting more accurate, faster and easier than the current paper based reporting system.

In the past, the Village Malaria Workers (VMW) submitted their monthly malaria reports to the health center.  From there, the health center submitted their reports to the Operational District (OD).  And from there, the OD submitted their reports to the Provincial Health Department (PHD). And finally, once all the reports are collected, the PHD submitted them all to the national level.  This whole process can take up to 3 months!

June 13, 2012

Using Pictures to Facilitate Understanding

Billboards, traffic signs, company logos, instructions, and the other signs are designed with pictures more than text, so that people can easily understand what they mean. Picture help people understand much faster than with text.
When people see the yellow sign with black exclamation make on the middle of the sign, they know that they have to pay attention of their driving. Also with company logos, they usually represent what the company is about. For example, if a company is working in agriculture, their logo may be designed with green colors and some agriculture products they serve.

From idea to product

In day to day working life, one often runs into various kinds of exciting challenges. Life in the iLab SEA is no exception starting from one passionate idea to a grateful finished software product that can solve certain radical human problems in pursuing a safer and healthier life through "early detection, early response" in affected communities as well as the world.

In the developing world, the latest critical information such as current flooding levels, available vaccines, total casualties and location coordinates are rarely available to the most remote and vulnerable people. Due to the lack of information,  people's health and safety as well as the economy have been affected. By the time relief workers are made aware of what is going on, things might have already gone worse. Thus making the rescue and recovery process the much more of a struggle.