Android Tablets for Nepal

A big part of the Kids on Computers partnership with CHOICE Humanitarian is to provide tablets running a modern version of Android for use in Nepal. CHOICE will be employing Nepalese youth and young adults in a pioneering new program to gather data about basic indicators of quality of life (health, income, education, etc.) in rural Nepal using tablets. After the data is gathered “offline” in remote areas, the tablets will sync data back to a central database in the cloud. When not in data-collection mode, the tablets will also be used to introduce technology based learning in villages where access to computers and the Internet is very limited or non-existent.

To support this partnership, Kids on Computers held a Tablet Install Day on August 21st at the CHOICE Humanitarian headquarters in West Jordan, UT. We recruited a highly skilled and efficient team of technologists from UnitedHealth Group‘s OptumInsight division (Claredi group), based in Salt Lake City, to do the installation. This group of 7 developers brought their Linux and Open Source skills to the event — exactly what we needed.

Volunteers from UnitedHealth Group setting up tablets in the CHOICE Humanitarian office.
Volunteers from UnitedHealth Group setting up tablets in the CHOICE Humanitarian office.

Our task was to load CyanogenMod 9 and a large collection of educational content on 21 HP Touchpad tablets. Here’s a summary of what we ended up with:

  • Android Ice Cream Sandwich (CM9)
  • the TaroWorks app, for CHOICE data collection
  • dozens of other android educational apps and games
  • a few Nepali dictionaries and translation apps
  • a GPS app, to help pinpoint rural village locations on maps
  • 5GB of offline Wikipedia in English (Kiwix)
  • 0.5GB of offline Wikipedia in Hindi
  • 69 free .epub books
  • a Khan Academy viewer (videos to be downloaded as needed from within the app for offline use)
  • a CHOICE/KoC background image

CyanogenMod 9

KoC/CHOICE android tablet home screen icons
KoC/CHOICE Android tablet home screen
TaroWorks - Data Collection App
TaroWorks – Data Collection App

A mixture of Linux and Window laptops was used by our installers, with varying degrees of success.  One Windows laptop suffered a graphics card failure. Other versions of Windows didn’t fully support the Android USB file transfer protocol.  We also had one tablet “bricked” by some creative install commands … but it was eventually brought back to life (thanks Josh). Even with a couple of crippled laptops, our volunteers worked out an assembly line approach to completing the installation and preparing each tablet with identical content.

After starting around 9:30am, we had all 21 tablets installed and loaded with all of the content, plus recorded in the Kids on Computers inventory management system by 6pm. A special Thank You to UnitedHealth Group and OptumInsight for sending their best Open Source technologists as volunteers to help on this important project, to HP for the tablet donation, and to CHOICE Humanitarian for being a great partner and allowing us to invade their office for the day.

Our tablet install day was a complete success.  All 21 tablets were installed.
Our tablet install day was a complete success. All 21 tablets are now prepared for deployment in Nepal.

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