- Mark Kaufman
- Amazon is sending free Fire phones to West Africa to help fight the spread of Ebola. Is this really a good idea?
As Sydney Brownstone at Fast Company reports, there might be a few problems with the plan to fight Ebola's spread by using thousands of free smartphones donated to West African aid workers by Jeff Bezos and Paul Allen.
For example, a co-leader of UNICEF’s Innovation Unit recently wrote of the idea: “I just spent the last month in Liberia, and at this point I believe it might be better to dump the container of smartphones into the ocean than to dump them onto the Ebola emergency response."
Among the potential problems in flooding, say, Liberia with smartphones loaded with a health-care-worker-helping app: The country's mobile network isn't robust enough to handle the phones' data processing needs, and the demands the phones would create for maintenance, repairs, and charging would be "unsustainably expensive."
In the fight to #TackleEbola, real-time data is critical. We're sending 10k phones to help http://t.co/hM2UhKQHeI pic.twitter.com/jIegylJQC9
— Vulcan Inc. (@VulcanInc) November 18, 2014