Mobile Web For Social Development (MW4D) Interest Group Charter

The mission of the Mobile Web For Social Development (MW4D) Interest Group, part of the Mobile Web Initiative Activity, is to explore the potential of Web technologies on Mobile phones as a solution to bridge the Digital Divide and provide Information and Communication Technology (ICT) based services to rural communities and underprivileged populations of Developing Countries.

Join the Mobile Web For Social Development (MW4D) Interest Group.

End date 1st June 2012
Confidentiality Proceedings are Public
Initial Chairs Ken Banks, Stéphane Boyera
Initial Team Contacts
(FTE %: 20)
Stéphane Boyera
Usual Meeting Schedule Teleconferences: Monthly


With expected 5 billions of mobile subscribers in the World by the end of 2010, the mobile is by far the most widely available platform in the hands of people living in Developing countries, and particularly in underprivileged communities to access Web-based content and services. While desktop-based Web access will continue to grow as countries are developing, and as broadband is expanding, it is expected that a vast of majority of people will meet the Web only through their mobile. It is therefore critical to understand the specific needs and requirements of such users, and the new usage that will appear, to ensure in the long term that the concept of One Web will still stand, and be reinforced by the contributions of new billions of users and contributors.

The main objective of the Mobile Web for Social Development Interest Group (MW4D IG) is to understand the barriers that prevent people in developing countries to use mobile phones to interact with Web content, and that prevent potential service providers to develop and deploy content and applications on this platform. The objective of the Interest Group is to identify best practices based on an empirical evidences and analysis of use cases and projects. The MW4D IG has also the objective to develop resources that can fill some of the identified gaps, and lead to availability of more content and services that could have an impact on social development issues and peoples' lives.

The aim of MW4D IG is to offer a home for the community of people, organizations, practitioners working in the field on the use of mobile and Web technologies and to enable this community to exchange experiences and lessons learned and to teach itself about various questions related to tools, impact analysis, adoption, sustainability and business models.

During its first charter, the Interest Group published a Mobile Web for Social Development Roadmap, which identifies the different technologies available on mobile phones that enable users to interact with Web content, and the different factors to consider to select the most appropriate options based on the context in which the targeted content or application is deployed. The MW4D IG also developed a repository of information about projects, tools, statistics etc. to help potential developers or service providers.

The aim of this second charter is to continue and extend this work in five major directions:

Investigation of specific application domains such as Health, Agriculture, Education or Government Transparency

The previous charter focused only on technology, without considering any specific domain. It is now critical to understand what are the key tasks, information needs, existing initiatives, specific contexts, etc. in domains such as health, education, agriculture, government transparency, etc. M-payment - the use of mobile to transfer small amount of money - will also be part of the group investigation, and particularly how the Web, and the mobile Web could be a solution to solve the current fragmentation issues in the domain.

Analysis of the tools landscape

During the course of its first charter, the MW4D IG developed a wiki with resources, including a section on tools. Increasing the knowledge on existing tools is critical for two reasons:

  • It avoids duplicating investment from people, organizations and donors in the development of new projects
  • It lowers the barriers for a potential service or content provider to author and deploy new applications through the use of tools that do not require advanced programming capabilities, or that can be used for a task that is critical (e.g. data collection).

The current wiki provides a list of references that might be useful, but it is for now only a collection. To be really useful, it is critical to develop a real landscape analysis, investigating the exact domain of applicability of the different tools, how they relate one to another, what is their target audience, what are their requirements for usage, etc. As part of these investigations, the growing importance of social networks such as twitter or facebook in developing countries and their potential roles in social development will be studied

Identification of business models and how to implement them

Business models are a key element in any ICT4D project, to ensure self-sustainability on the long term. While this topic is often mentioned as a key dimension, the current literature on the topic is very limited. It is essential to identify the business models that have been implemented in mobile applications, their success and challenges, how they relate to the selection of a particular technology, or how they are applicable in different technological contexts, what the criteria are (maximizing revenue, social impact...), etc. It is also important to identify the key external elements that can enable the implementation of a specific model (e.g. application stores).

Investigation of existing impact analysis methodologies and results

Like business models, impact analysis is a critical dimension in all ICT4D projects. How do you measure a specific project impact, what are the factors to consider, and appropriate methodologies to use are key questions. While this topic is wider than just mobile applications, there is no well established methodology to measure the social impact of a specific service. This work will enable content or service providers to define in details and before the implementation of the project what the expected impact is, and how it will be measured.

Identification of adoption factors, and methodologies
As underlined in the MW4D Roadmap, a key dimension to consider is how to integrate a new mobile-based service in a community, and leverage its adoption. It is critical to identify methodologies to use at the early stage of the development that will ensure a greater adoption and trust by targeted communities. The objective of this note is to understand how technology could successfully be integrated in communities which has no prior experience, and how people build trust in digital content and services, and mainstream it in their daily operation for a greater impact on their lives.

The Interest Group also plans to maintain the Mobile Web for Social Development Roadmap and publish, if appropriate, an updated version.


The aim of MW4D IG is to offer a home for people from a wide range of background interested in the application of technology in social development:

The diversity of background is essential to capture the needs and requirements of targeted end users (underprivileged communities of developing countries), and understand how current and future technologies could help solve some of the barriers that currently prevent the development of numerous content and services.

In that regards, in order to be relevant, the MW4D IG is focusing on involving people from developing countries, and people working in the field. To be successful on that front, MW4D IG will do specific outreach initiatives involving W3C offices in developing regions, and getting in touch with existing local developer networks, or other existing local fora. Those outreach initiatives might be workshops if appropriate funding is available. As demonstrated in the first charter of the group, the organization of local workshops is a powerful way of convening people from the local region, capturing their feedback, and disseminating information about existing technologies and tools.


The MW4D IG approach for this second charter will consist of a bottom-up approach that will start from domain specific investigations and will consider the different dimensions the group is focusing on. Then, in a second phase, after having studied few domains, the group will identify cross-sector similarities, and potential generalizations that could provide solutions across different domains.

The number of sectors that will be considered by MW4D IG depends of the participation in the group. Based on the current list of participants in the group, expertise on agriculture, government services, transparency and health is available.

Success Criteria


This section outlines the deliverables the group will produce.

Interest Group Notes

An Interest Group Note on Domain-Specific Challenges and MW4D Solutions

This Note will study the different projects and case studies from the key domains of social development (at least health, agriculture, government and education), and identify the key challenges of each domain, recurring patterns in information needs, profile of contributors and consumers of information, and tools that can support the development of m-services (mobile services).

An Interest Group Note on Mobile Tools Landscape

This Note will define a methodology to review mobile tools available for the different technologies, develop a landscape analysis based on the definition of taxonomy or matrix of factors to consider to select a tool. The note will also identify gaps, in software, features or standardization, that prevent more people from deploying content and services. As part of the investigations, the group may study the role of social networks, and how to harness their power for social development.

Associated with this Note, the MW4D IG will maintain a specific section on its wiki with a list of tools analyzed using this methodology.

An Interest Group Note on MW4D Impact Analysis Methodologies and Results

This Note will analyze the current methodologies used in ICT4D projects to assess impact and results, evaluate their applicability in the mobile space, identify the key factors to take into account to measure social impact, and how to measure them.

An Interest Group Note on MW4D Business Models

This Note will investigate the current business models that have been implemented in mobile/Web/ICT4D projects, identify their focus and objectives, identify their requirements on the context, targeted audience, technologies, etc., and identify which elements in the context (infrastructure, policies, …) can leverage their applicability, or their usefulness.

An Interest Group Note on MW4D Adoption Methodologies

This Note will investigate the current methodologies existing to leverage adoption and use of new ICT-based services by underprivileged communities, identify the key factors to take into account, and the design and development process that could speed the adoption.

A new Revision of the Mobile Web for Social Development Roadmap

The current roadmap provides an overview of currently available technologies, and assesses their strengths and weaknesses based on existing handsets, infrastructure, tariff structure, etc. The roadmap also recommends a set of initiatives to improve the domain, and realize the potential of mobile applications in social development.

All the work done in the roadmap is based on a state-of-the-art of the domain, and the context in developing countries based on data and evidences collected between spring 2008 and fall 2009. As the mobile applications for social development area is very active, the Interest Group will follow the evolution in the domain during the course of this second charter, and may decide to publish an updated version of the document to capture this evolution.

Supporting Materials


The organization of the three workshops on the theme of Mobile Web for Social Development in 2006 in India, 2008 in Brazil, and 2009 in Mozambique demonstrated the importance of organizing events close to the people MW4D IG is trying to reach. Most of the grassroots experience and use cases presented during these workshops were coming from the local region. In order to capture the specificities of each Developing Region, and to gather feedback from different places, MW4D IG may organize, if appropriate funding is available, new workshop(s) in different regions such as West Africa, Central and Eastern Europe or South-East Asia.

Timeline View Summary

The different IG Notes targeted by the MW4D IG are independent, of similar importance and priority, and can be developed in parallel. The organization of work will depend on the contributions provided by future members of the MW4D IG. Based on commitment by participants, a more detailed updated publication timeline will be maintained on the home page if the MW4D IG. As indicated in section 1.2, the MW4D IG will begin with a sectorial approach, launching investigations in one or more domains such as education, agriculture, health, etc. The selection of the domains, and the number of parallel investigations will also depend on the resources and interests of future IG participants.


In order to be most successful the Interest Group will coordinate with various W3C and non-W3C related groups working in similar areas. These groups include:

W3C Mobile Web Initiative
The W3C Mobile Web Initiative is the activity driving W3C effort on Mobile Web access. As such, it is a natural point of contact for MW4D IG to follow what's happening and to provide, if appropriate, reviews and requirements to relevant groups part of this activity.
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative
One of the topics MW4D group will have to consider is the problem of illiteracy particularly affecting Developing Countries. This topic is in the scope of the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative.
W3C Internationalization Core WG
One of the topics group will have to consider is the availability of content in local languages. How to handle them may require cooperation with I18N Core WG.
W3C Social Web Incubator Group
As part of the work on Mobile tools, the MW4D IG may investigate the roles of social networks in social development, and might come with elements that could be relevant to this W3C incubator group or its successors.
eGovernment Interest Group
Deploying eGovernment services to citizens of Developing Countries is a major challenge due to the lack of infrastructure and computers. The current penetration rate of mobile phones makes them the most promising option for this deployment. On the other hand, the availability of government services may leverage the adoption of Mobile Web technologies. Therefore, close relationships between this group and the eGovernment Interest Group is essential.
The World Bank Global Information and Communication Technologies Department
MIT Legatum Center
GSMA Development Fund
dotMobi Advisory Group initiative on Mobile Internet in Developing Countries
Open Mobile Consortium
World Wide Web Foundation

Those International organizations or initiatives are dealing with related goals as the MW4D IG. It is essential to develop liaisons and cooperations with them in order to share experience, expertise, and to ensure that we are all going in the same direction, in a complementary way.


W3C has created the Mobile Web For Development Interest Group to be an an open, sustainable forum. To help ensure that the deliverables identified in this charter are produced in a timely fashion and represent the needs of a variety of communities, we therefore seek both dedicated and broad participation. We anticipate that dedicated individuals will enable the group to make timely progress, and that the diverse communities interested in the goals outlined by this charter — companies, universities, and organizations of various types — will be represented in the group.

The Interest Group therefore welcomes participation from representatives of W3C Member organizations. To enable a broad spectrum of input, the group also anticipates the active participation of individuals as W3C Invited Experts (read the policy for approval of Invited Experts) from universities, non-governmental organization, and other organizations. Participation from W3C Members and non-Members alike will help ensure the goals of this charter are effectively addressed. Invited Experts in this group are not granted access to Member-only information.

The W3C Team expects to dedicate the services of one staff member to serve 20% of his / her time as staff contact for the group to facilitate discussion as well as in the publication of notes and help with the liaison to related W3C efforts.

Participation is expected to consume up to a half-day a week of each participant's time.


This group primarily conducts its work on the public mailing list public-mw4d@w3.org (archive) .

Information about the group (deliverables, participants, teleconferences, etc.) is available from the Mobile Web For Social Development (MW4D) Interest Group home page.

Decision Policy

As explained in the Process Document (section 3.3), this group will seek to make decisions when there is consensus. When the Chair puts a question and observes dissent, after due consideration of different opinions, the Chair should record a decision (possibly after a formal vote) and any objections, and move on.

This charter is written in accordance with Section 3.4, Votes of the W3C Process Document and includes no voting procedures beyond what the Process Document requires.

Patent Disclosures

The Mobile Web For Social Development (MW4D) Interest Group provides an opportunity to share perspectives on the topic addressed by this charter. W3C reminds Interest Group participants of their obligation to comply with patent disclosure obligations as set out in Section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy. While the Interest Group does not produce Recommendation-track documents, when Interest Group participants review Recommendation-track specifications from Working Groups, the patent disclosure obligations do apply.

For more information about disclosure obligations for this group, please see the W3C Patent Policy Implementation.

About this Charter

This charter for the Mobile Web For Social Development (MW4D) Interest Group has been created according to section 6.2 of the Process Document. In the event of a conflict between this document or the provisions of any charter and the W3C Process, the W3C Process shall take precedence.

Please also see the previous charter for this group.

Author: Stéphane Boyera W3C (boyera@w3.org)

$Date: 2010/05/10 08:15:01 $