Now this is cool. A group calling itself "Phones for Health" is going to be using mobile phones to rapidly gather health data in Africa. Perhaps this explains why Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush are speaking at CTIA next month too. Suddenly being a mobile phone nerd doesn't feel so commercial.
Phones for Health will allow health workers in the field to use a standard Motorola handset equipped with a downloadable application to enter health data. Once entered, the data is transferred via a packet based mobile connection (GPRS) into a central database. If GPRS isn’t available, the software can use a SMS data channel to transmit the information. The data is then mapped and analyzed by the system, and is immediately available to health authorities at multiple levels via the web. The system also supports SMS alerting and other tools for communication with field staff.