Tomorrow has arrived, but not for everyone. A digital divide persists, even in seemingly connected countries like the United States, where some twenty percent of the population, or sixty million people, don’t have Internet access at home. Those on the wrong side of the divide—the poor, the elderly, the geographically dispersed— are already marginalized, and tend to have a more critical need for specialized legal services, whether to resolve a conflict, acquire a land title, seek asylum, or escape an abusive situation.
As we welcome the newest member of the FrontlineSMS family, below is a guest post from its founder, Sean Martin McDonald. You can find out more about them on their website, or by following them on Twitter. Congratulations and welcome to the team! The Case for FrontlineSMS:Legal Mobile technologies are changing the way that governments deliver services. Whether it’s coordinating local medical treatment or crowdsourcing disaster assistance, innovators everywhere are harnessing the power of mobile phones to reach entire populations who live outside the traditional reach of their governments. As the FrontlineSMS community continually demonstrates, many of the barriers to service delivery are based on communication problems, not the services themselves. The law is no different.
Millions of people live outside the reach and purview of their national legal systems, forcing them to endure abuse and neglect. In the absence of law, people turn to either local leaders or settle disputes themselves, resulting in informal, and even violent, resolutions. At the same time, there are a number of incredible local leaders and civil society actors who step-in to fill this void. These people and organizations often risk their own safety and credibility in order to resolve simple disputes for their communities without government support or protection.
FrontlineSMS:Legal uses mobile technologies to extend, improve, and coordinate dispute resolution systems, increasing local capacity and access to justice in the areas that need it most. For more information, check out the newest member of the FrontlineSMS Family here!