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Global Health in Seattle: The “Proximity Advantage”

Forum One held two roundtable discussions in Seattle in the past couple of weeks on global health web communications as well as data collection, management, and dissemination. As a mid-sized city with a collection of world-class global health organizations, Seattle has a unique opportunity to leverage the power of community and our “proximity advantage” (as one participant put it) to innovate and break down obstacles to success.

  • In late September at PATH, Forum One gathered a group of web communicators to talk about managing social media outposts (we used Chris Brogan’s Web Presence Framework as context). Emily Inlow-Hood of PATH shared her group’s work on building out a strategic Wikipedia presence, and the discussion went on to consider a wide range of presence management topics, from mobile (build applications? or just optimize for the browser?), to Facebook/Twitter (which one is the more intimate medium?), to exploring ways Seattle GH organizations can support one another’s online communication efforts.
  • The next week at the University of Washington (hosted by CHANGE, a lively cross-disciplinary group working on ICT for development), we facilitated a discussion among Seattle-based groups involved with global health data collection, management, and dissemination. We heard from Yaw Anokwa about his work on the Open Data Kit, an Android-based suite of tools for collecting, aggregating, and visualizing field information. We also heard from Peter Speyer of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation about their work creating and disseminating health data from around the world. We fell into a fascinating discussion about the siloed efforts of health practitioners, data collectors, and in-country data managers. When we’ve had these discussions before (and before that), we’ve concluded with a question. This time the question was more urgent – “What can we accomplish together?” The group had a few ideas that seem genuinely worth exploring (which we’ll discuss more at another time).  

Like to learn more about the possibilities? Let me know.