Christian Aid has rolled out compression software to allow its overseas aid and development workers to tap into its collaborative network even if they are based in areas with poor internet connections.
The charity wants to decentralise decision making and ensure its global operations are responsive to local needs in developing countries. It is using Corpora’s iOra compression software to allow staff worldwide to continue working offline when they have no internet access in remote areas and then efficiently transfer data when they are able to go online.
Christian Aid’s country staff use a Microsoft SharePoint portal on their laptops, which they can update with crucial new information on aid operations without going online.
When they are able to connect to the internet, the iOra software compresses the data and allows it to be sent cost-effectively over low bandwidth to update the organisation’s global SharePoint system.
The software can be used with ordinary telephone lines or via a satellite phone connection in remote areas. The data compression also reduces costs for the charity when staff are working in areas with access to higher bandwidth, as connectivity in developing countries can be expensive.
Steven Buckley, head of Christian Aid’s common knowledge programme said: “SharePoint with iOra has enabled us to accelerate our decentralisation programme where decision making staff can be based in developing countries rather than in London.
“That means we should be more agile and responsive to local needs. For example, if you're working for a western organisation, posting staff out to Paris or Singapore is easy. The connectivity is there and staff have the right access to information.
“Working in developing countries it is much harder. SharePoint and iOra give us the chance to decentralise and deliver better results to the people who need it across the developing world.”
The project has been rolled out to staff based in Kenya, Honduras and Tajikistan, and Christian Aid aims to extend it to local teams working in more than 60 countries worldwide.