"We know that tech can increase chances for success - if done right. But it's often hard for social change projects whose skills don't already lie in technology to know how technology can be integrated or which tool would be the most useful for them."
From The Engine Room, this is an interactive tool that explains what to look for when using technology for social change. Alidade is a series of guided questions along each step of the process of choosing technology: from assessing your users' technology habits, to deciding which technical partner can do what you want. It is divided into 4 steps:
- Understanding your needs - clarifying your project's objectives, and what your users want.
- Understanding the tech - setting out your requirements and researching what options are already out there.
- Trying it out - planning a trial of the technology options you are considering, with your users.
- Getting help (if you need it) - working out what kind of technical support you might need to implement or manage the technology you have chosen.
Each step includes tips, real-life examples, and resources to help you answer the questions. At the end, Alidade produces a structured PDF document with your own answers to the various questions and exercises you have worked through that you can use to: get colleagues on board with your idea; explain your requirements to technical providers; or show funders that you have done your research.
In 2015-16, in a project supported by Making All Voices Count (MAVC) with the Network Society Lab and Mtaani Initiative, The Engine Room found that Kenyan and South African transparency and accountability initiatives were largely unhappy with the technology tools they were choosing. To make the recommendations more practical and useful (beyond conventional publication of their research findings), they created Alidade. After piloting it with Kenyan and South African organisations, they tested Alidade sessions with additional transparency and accountability-focused organisations from Tanzania, Colombia, Indonesia, South Africa, Chile, Nigeria, Mexico, and Slovakia. The team then redesigned Alidade based on all the feedback received.
All information entered into Alidade is transmitted over SSL. This means that no one else can look at it while it is being transferred. The Engine Room then stores the information in a database hosted on a secure private server. Alidade's code is open source and available on Github and/or reach out to Alidade lead Tom Walker if you have suggestions or would like to be involved giving ongoing feedback.
"Alidade: an interactive tool to help you bring technology strategically into your project", by Tom Walker, The Engine Room, March 7 2017, accessed on March 14 2017.