What he did: Founded Medic Mobile, a nonprofit that develops text-message and cellphone applications to improve health-care communications in poor regions of Africa and Asia.
Why he did it: As a volunteer working to promote health in a rural Malawi village, Mr. Nesbit realized that some health workers spent days walking between patients and doctors to convey information.
How he did it: He realized his mobile-phone signal was stronger in Malawi than in his native Palo Alto, Calif., so he designed a phone application to read through a large collection of text messages, get rid of problems caused by typos and different dialects, and organize them so health workers could respond to the most urgent messages first.
What he accomplished: He developed systems to help people in 16 countries. After the success of the text-message system, he created Hope Phones, a charity that collects donated phones in the United States, recycles them, and uses the proceeds to acquire new cellphones for health-care workers overseas, spending about $10 per phone. So far more than 10,000 phones have been donated and the program has outfitted 6,000 health workers with phones.—Brennen Jensen
Low-tech technologies—like $10 cellphones—can make the biggest difference in the developing world, says Josh Nesbit, founder of Medic Mobile. His charity’s efforts can help people working on other causes, he says. “All the software we are creating is free and open-source, so if someone wanted to take something we’ve built for health care and use it in agriculture or in job creation, that’s terrific,” Mr. Nesbit says. “We want to see the mobile applications used in lots of different sectors and lots of different fields.”
Technology for Good
This profile is part of a series about the 10 winners of the 2012 Dewey Winburne Community Service Award. Select other profiles from the menu below.