Fredrik Winses, Director of Global Programs for Nethope, was kind enough to write back to my earlier blog post, correcting some specific wording that I had taken issue with. I really appreciate this; it’s the type of constructive dialogue on which the internet, UNICEF’s Innovation work, and the open-source communities of technologists that we so much respect. He noted: ” In the Magpi & DanChurchAid webinar invitation we may have misspoken and been lax with fact-checking before using the “most widely-used” term. While we cannot recall 3,000 Eventbrite invitations, we have toned down the verbiage on the NetHope Solutions Center webinar posting.”
We explored UNICEF’s use of the proprietary Magpi, and it is in a few small and specific instances, driven by individual country offices. We pride ourselves in the diversity of thought. As an organizational solution for data collection, UNICEF uses the open-source [www.rapidpro.io]RapidPro system. RapdiPro is what powers U-Report, which has more than 2.2 million users providing information and data on health, education, governance, and more, in 22 countries. RapidPro is, and will continue to be, the solution that we recommend to our country offices and partners as it is completely open source – which of course does not mean “free” – and can be customized and adapted by local technologists and entrepreneurs. You can find RapidPro on github: https://github.com/rapidpro.
Building open source, public goods, and working together on these platforms is the only way we can solve some of the pressing problems of development. There are many ways for companies to make money and be open-source – but it does require a spirit of collaboration and lack of ego to be successful.