Sunday, 5 April 2009

The use of mobiles for massive agricultural data collection

Interview with Ian Puttergill Business Development Manager of Unlimited Potential Group of Microsoft South Africa. Ian clarifies the conditions for massive agricultural data collection using the mobile phone.

Using mobile technology for data collection and transmission depends on which source you are collecting from: is the source tusted? A lot of systems are only as good as the information that comes in. It also depends on the level of accuracy which the information needs to have. If the level of accuracy needed is within 10% points of the intended results mobile phone have their place. If you want accuracy within 1 % that those who enter the information are highly schooled and know how to do it. Whatever system that is used to capture information needs to discard non relevant information (a filter for garbage) and a feedback system to tell that the information is invalid. From a database end massive data collection has to be a scalable solution but internet connectivity is here a major constraint.

Microsoft has researched some sound business models for m-agriculture (Mobile-agriculture). It first depends on the social relevancy of the application and how the mobile network operators will react to this. Follows then the business model which can be a donor funded model, commercial models (pay for subscription service), nominal cost and non-profit models, and advertising models. Advertising models are interesting because it can drive revenues shared to mobile operators, to the other partners: content providers and service providers.
The final objective is to find models that are sustainable in the long term.

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