The Open Institute's SPICE program selected as best Mobile Solution for Development in Asia

Bangkok, Thailand, January 6, 2014 - “Structuring Partnerships for an Innovative Communications Environment” (SPICE) – a project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) – was awarded the “Mobile Solutions for Development in Asia Award,” at the Mobile Solutions Forum in Bangkok, Thailand on January 6, 2014. Open Institute, a Cambodian organization, operates the SPICE program in Cambodia. Javier Sola, SPICE’s Program Director, accepted the award on behalf of the project.


USAID RDMA Director Michael Yates (center) with Mobile Solutions M4D Contest Award Winners Javier Sola of the Open Institute, first place (right)
USAID RDMA Director Michael Yates (center) with Mobile Solutions M4D Contest Award Winners Javier Sola of the Open Institute, first place (right)

Through the SPICE program, the Open Institute helps Cambodian civil society organizations develop Interactive Voice Response (IVR) applications that allow them to provide information and services to improve the lives of their beneficiaries via mobile phones. IVR is a well-established technology in western countries that is used to answer the phone with pre-recorded information messages. The SPICE project is the first large-scale deployment of this technology for development purposes.

The system is already finding enthusiastic audiences in Cambodia. One service developed to inform Cambodian voters where and how to vote during the 2013 national elections was used by over 600,000 callers. Another application is being used to decrease infant mortality by keeping mothers informed of potential risks during the first month of life of their newborns. Yet another service was designed to act as an early-warning system for farmers facing natural disasters. The International Labour Organization uses the platform to inform Cambodian garment workers of their legal rights. More services are being developed that will educate migrant household workers about the risks and opportunities of migration.

During the award ceremony, Mr. Sola announced that the award would be used to help Cambodian ethnic minorities with unwritten languages hear the land law in their native languages. By creating an application that allows them to hear the law and an explanation, they will be able to better understand their land ownership rights.

"There is enormous value in developing common technological infrastructure that can be used by USAID projects across different sectors. Because of SPICE, civil society organizations across Cambodia have access to highly skilled resources without having to develop technological know-how and infrastructure in-house. This is an incredibly powerful model and a well-deserved award,” noted Priya Jaisinghani, Director of Mobile Solutions at USAID.


For more information:

Javier Sola, Program Director – SPICE