'Bolo' - The Human Voice Initiative

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'Bolo' - The Human Voice Initiative

$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Bolo-The Human Voice Initiative,is globally accessible,sms/mms-based technology platform seamlessly integrates with Google Maps

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

There are many parts of the world, embroiled in violence that poses a high risk for journalists. Since January 2011 an average of 3 to 4 journalists have been killed every month and this worrying trend is growing. By 2012, the total number of journalistic lives lost globally will exceed 1000 lives over the previous two decades. Across conflict zones dominated by authoritarian regimes, media censorship is strict and investigative journalism is thwarted. The world does not get to hear the voice of the opposition. In such a scenario, the death of a journalist creates a vacuum that is filled with innuendos and prejudice. The viral spread of social media in recent years has enabled real-time reporting from the front lines, especially in situations such as genocides and natural disasters. However, this real-time reporting has been haphazard, ad-hoc and opportunistic. There is an urgent need to institutionalize this unique form of citizen journalism.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our solution is a democratic, participative, inclusive, crowd sourced, technology-enabled platform for citizen media journalism. It is global and yet local at the same time, scalable and yet replicable anywhere providing real-time, bottom up, grass roots community empowerment. In our smart technology-enabled platform, citizen reporters can geo-tag news as it happens by sending an SMS/MMS or SMS-voice recording through an ICT (information and communications technology) interface that populates a Google map, citizen journalists can geo-tag photos, short videos, podcasts, and share live opinions regarding frontline breaking news, e.g. pro-democracy protests being snuffed out by authoritarian regimes. For participating subscribers, these sms/mms messages would be available instantly and could play a pivotal role in catalyzing non-violent, social activism.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Imagine you are a concerned citizen peacefully protesting the corruption of an authoritarian regime that has blatantly violated the rights of various minority groups. Suddenly, a military police battalion arrives and starts using tear gas and rubber bullets to forcibly disperse the crowd. The police then inexplicably escalate their terror by switching to the use of live ammunition. Meanwhile, this entire scene is captured on video and reported live through sms, mms or video feeds that are tagged geo-spatially in real time onto Google maps to give a street-by-street, authentic rendition of the encounter. Under ordinary circumstances and in the absence of citizen journalism and ICT-enabled, real-time reporting, the authoritarian regime would have downplayed this incident, falsely claiming that a ‘mob’ attacked a contingency of police bystanders, which then acted in self-defense. The tyrannical government would have claimed that their police used minimum force and did not resort to the use of live ammunition, although the ‘mob’ brandished fire-weapons, etc. As they say, the truth shall set you free which is why it is so important to have access to live-reporting from the frontlines. ICT-enabled citizen journalism can thus play a vital role in the preservation of human rights.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We believe that in this interconnected, globalized ‘flat’ world, every citizen can be a journalist and local news can have rapid global repercussions. Democratically participative journalism truly epitomizes news of the people, by the people and for the people. Peers: Internet-communication technologies, Google Maps, Mobile phone companies, Cellular networks, Internet service providers, journalists, social, political and human rights activists, social networks, various national, transnational and international bodies in security, healthcare and commerce, philanthropy, human rights, travel/tourism, global, multinational businesses and marginalized minorities to name few. Peers contribution to our growth: These peers will help us by participating as nexii of crowd sourcing for each other at various levels. Competitors: Authoritarian regimes, conflict zones, media censorship bodies, anti-democratic forces, opposing the world as an open and flat place. Challenges for us from competitors: Lobbying to control, modify or even ban globally scaled initiatives to make the world an open and flat place through globally, crowd sourced information flow.
About You
'Bolo'-The Human Voice Initiative
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

'Bolo'-The Human Voice Initiative

Organization Country

, S

Country where this project is creating social impact

, S

How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

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Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Idea (you're poised to launch)

How long have you been in operation?

Still in idea phase, but looking to launch soon

Social Impact
FOUNDING STORY: We want to hear about your “Aha!” moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution’s potential to change the world.

During the months of July and August 2011, hundreds of targeted killings ravaged Karachi, part of a concerted terrorist campaign of political, ethnic and religious violence that has gripped the city.

Like me, my brothers work in this troubled city, building construction projects which require them to travel to different ’flashpoints’ in the city. Every time they go out for work our family feels a pang of fear shiver down our spine. Current media reports on affected areas lack geographical specificity and accuracy and there is no actionable, localized knowledge to take reasonable precautions against escalating violence.

My ‘eureka’ moment came one night when my family was fraught with worry and frustration, unable to trace my brothers. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there must be hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens throughout Karachi who were paralyzed with fear of the unknown. The desire to overcome this fear with real-time, crowd-sourced information is what triggered the creation of 'Bolo' - The Human Voice Initiative.

Specify both the depth and scale of your solution’s social impact to date

Leveraging social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook, citizen journalists has already played a pivotal role in the emancipation of the Arab uprising. Crowd-sourced, real-time reporting from Tahrir Square in Cairo epitomized the struggle of ordinary Egyptians against the Mubarak regime and triggered similar protests in Syria and Libya.

During the Pakistan floods of 2010, our sister/mentor-organization, NAYA JEEVAN collaborated with Google on an online, crowd-sourced tool called Resource Finder which enabled field-based humanitarian relief workers to locate and assess the capacity of healthcare providers in flood-impacted areas.

We believe Resource Finder and other tools could be further enhanced with input provided in real-time by sms/mms-enabled mobile phones, given the far higher mobile teledensity in Pakistan and other emerging countries (as compared to broadband which is growing but still far from ubiquitous).

What is your projected impact within the next 1-5 years? Is your idea replicable? If so, how?

Over next 1-5 years, we plan to scale & replicate across following approaches across Pakistan:

Citizen Media Journalism:

Especially in: (i) Drone-attacked, terror-stricken FATA & Af-Pak border areas and (ii) Violence-racked gang war/mafia dens in Karachi which are off-limits to police and where only few journalists are willing to report from.

Emergency Healthcare: We will launch real-time epidemic outbreak reporting (e.g. Dengue Fever) which will enable localized vaccination drives, also geographical distribution of ambulances can be based upon geo-tagged, service demand.

Early Detection/Weather Surveillance: Early flood warnings along River Indus.
We will openly share our learning with other organizations interested in replicating our model in other emerging countries.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and mark growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Six-Month Tasks
Task 1

Identification and negotiations with stakeholders (e.g. Aman Foundation ambulance services or Meteorology Office and sharing of

Task 2

Basic infrastructure investment development (technology, hardware and logistics)

Task 3

Localized (small area) pilot testing of project in a major metropolitan city (Karachi) and high-risk environments (e.g. Lyari)

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
12-Month Tasks
Task 1

Successful implementation of 6-month pilot project and assessment of social impact

Task 2

Endorsement/Agreement with a major mobile communications company (e.g. Telenor or Mobilink) to provide subsidized sms/mms servic

Task 3

Agreement with Aman Foundation ambulance service to integrate “Bolo” into their EMS tracking system

How many people have been impacted by your project?

Fewer than 100

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

Explain how your company, program, service or product is structured


What barriers have hindered the success of your project to date? How do you plan to overcome these and other challenges as you grow your solution?

Our greatest challenges are:

(i) Access to funding
(ii) Access to technical expertise for information technology, cell phone technology, and
(iii) HR talent that would facilitate organizational scale-up

Funding: We would reach out to organizational stakeholders with whom we see a win-win partnership emerging: (Google, Cellular Phone Networks, Mobile Phone companies, broadband ISPs, Social networks).

Technical Expertise: We will seek pro bono or subsidized ICT technology expertise from our strategic business partners. For legal advice, we have access, through our sister organization NAYA JEEVAN, to pro bono services by Weil & Gotschal, a renowned NYC-based law-firm.

How do you see the information-technology and media sectors shifting over the next decade? How will your solution adapt to and/or drive that changing environment?

We see that information technology enabled platforms will move towards a more democratic, human centered approach and design, with the launch of Web 3.0. These technologies will be more fully integrated into tools such as ours that will be used by the 4 Billion-strong BOP(base-of-pyramid) to better inform their business and social activities. Information flow will be more democratic, transparent and rapid, creating unprecedented social and financial value.

Failure is not always an option. If your solution fails to gain traction in the next two years, what other applications of the idea could you explore?

If our proposed solution fails to gain traction in next 2 years, we will solicit feedback from wide array of stakeholders to ascertain the reasons for this. Having better understood the market expectation, we would then re-design our product for a potential launch in the following three applications:

(i)Global Money Tracking: Transnational financial transactions are coming under increasing scrutiny both by government agencies to mitigate tax evasion, money laundering and terrorism-financing. The ability to geo-tag financial transfers and then ‘trace’ the ‘cash flow’ in real-time would be a powerful tool in the hands of financial regulators.

(ii)Crime Prevention/Community Watchdogs: Real-time, geo-tagged, crime reporting could help law-enforcement agencies combat crime, drug trafficking, etc.

(iii)Rapid Market Research: Primary market research through crowd-sourced medium could be rapidly conducted in pre-specified geographies/markets via sms/mms in a way which could create tremendous quantitative and qualitative value for market research analysts.

Expand on your selections, explaining how you will sustain funding

'Bolo' – The Human Voice Initiative is collaborating with NAYA JEEVAN which is supported by several corporate and private foundations (including Google/Tides Foundation) as well as the US Dept of State and ILO-MIF (ILO is a UN multilateral agency). We hope that 'Bolo' – The Human Voice Initiative” will soon generate its own independent funding.

Tell us about your partnerships

NAYA JEEVAN is the emerging world’s first not-for-profit “HMO for the marginalized”, Bolo will partner with NAYA JEEVAN to identify risks and disease patterns according to geography and provide geo-localized emergency services to trauma/accident victims.

Mishal (Pvt.) Ltd: Mishal is a strategic communication/policy design social enterprise. With Mishal we will train, equip and rollout the citizen journalism component of the Human Voice Initiative, especially in turbulent, war-torn regions in Pakistan.

What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section?

•Corporate Board (comprised of multidisciplinary group of investors/donors)

•Technical Advisory Board (technocrats who can advise us on ICT)

•IT Infrastructure with IT staff (Web, Mobile)

•Strategic Partnerships/Business Development team that develops agreements with strategic business partners

•Member Services team which participate with IT and Executive side to roll out product and services and after launch, interacts with consumers

Changemakers is a collaborative and supportive space. Please specify any community resources you would need to grow and sustain your initiative. Select all that apply

Investment, Human resources or talent, Marketing or media, Research or information, Collaboration or networking, Pro-bono help (legal, financial, etc.), Innovation or ideas, Mentorship.

Specify any resources you might offer to support other initiatives. Select all that apply

Investment, Human resources or talent, Marketing or media, Research or information, Collaboration or networking, Innovation or ideas, Mentorship.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren’t specified within the list

We need ICT expertise well versed in integrating modern platforms including Android, Google Maps, Google Earth and Augmented Reality (e.g. Layar AR Vision). We need catalytic ‘jumpstart’ investment to support the operations of the company until we become self-sustainable (2-3 years).

Define your company, program, service or product in 1-2 short sentences

Bolo-The Human Voice Initiative,is fast,crowd-accessible,geolocalized technology platform promoting realtime citizen journalism.