iLab Approach

Our approach is a unique blend of the social and technological development spheres, which have traditionally worked on problem solving in isolation from each other.  By working both in the field with users and inside the iLab with other developers, we bridge the gap between what we know is possible and what actually works in the real world.  This unique “social-technical” approach fosters collaborative engineering practices, multidisciplinary dialogue, cross-sector partnerships and entrepreneurial innovation serving the public good.

We support humanitarian organizations, local communities, businesses and government ministries to increase the positive social impact of their projects. The primary context for our work has been in the field of Public Health and Disaster Relief throughout the Southeast Asia region. We support our partner organizations by helping them design, develop, release and improve technology tools that help them better communicate and organize information. We build custom solutions and also help partner organizations apply existing tools to new contexts.

In addition to creating tools and technologies, we also build local capacity in the fields of interaction design, technology development, and project management. Building local capacity increases the sustainability of our projects and success of partners using our technical solutions.

We support the network of local technology leaders and entrepreneurs by hosting events, making the iLab Southeast Asia workspace available as a conference venue free of charge, and developing business skills among the members of our team.Our work is guided by these basic principles:

AGILE DEVELOPMENT

We work closely with end-users and stakeholders, creating and adapting software to address the most pressing needs from the field. As part of the design and prototype process, we are in constant dialogue with our users; doing extensive usability exercises and giving our users a prominent role in the evolution of the software systems. As a result, culturally appropriate designs that empower the end-users appear faster, as do new and productive uses for the applications.

LOCAL CAPACITY BUILDING

Our local partners participate in the full life cycle of new system design — rapid prototyping, design, development, quality assurance and field support in the local language, culture and context — thus creating a long-term asset for the country. By listening to our users and incorporating their input throughout the full cycle of software development, we ensure the cultural appropriateness and the sustainability of our tools.  In addition, we are involved in supporting local community capacity building through events such as BarCamp, DevCamp, TEDx and other open events.  This gives us the opportunity to share our resources and knowledge and what we’ve learned with the whole community, regardless of their technical abilities.

OPEN ARCHITECTURE, OPEN SOURCE

Our systems conform to a set of architectural principles that allow them to be used as-is or as building blocks for larger solutions. All of our tools meet or exceed the relevant standards for their domain and allow the sharing of data with other systems in a reliable and secure way. Basing the tools on open standards and exposing appropriate APIs also allows them to be used locally and by other organizations in innovative ways as a platform for new social and humanitarian programs.