TCS, Qualcomm, FHI 360 mark success in deploying wireless solutions for fisheries

MUMBAI: India’s leading IT services organization Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has redefined fishing by bringing wireless solutions to fishermen and women in Senegal.

TCS collaborated with Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach initiative and FHI 360 to implement a digital solution that enriches the lives of the fishing community in Senegal, leveraging the transformative power of wireless technologies.

FHI 360 is a nonprofit human development organization includes experts in health, education, nutrition, environment, economic development, civil society, gender, youth, research, technology, communication and social marketing – creating a unique mix of capabilities to address today’s interrelated development challenges.

In Senegal, 90% of the fishing is done by artisanal fishers who sell to either wholesale fish markets or to small scale women entrepreneurs that process and sell the fish to wholesalers.

The goal of the Wireless Reach funded WISE program is to empower these artisanal fishers and women entrepreneurs with a solution, jointly designed and developed by TCS and FHI 360, that combines wireless connectivity with GPS in conjunction with specialized mobile and server applications that are accessible through an android based smartphone.

The WISE application, says TCS, now being actively accessed by more than 1,500 users, provides many benefits to the fishing community in Senegal, like improving safety at sea by creating access to daily weather information and navigational resources to chart a safe course to and fro from fishing zones.

Fishermen are able to communicate their location to rescue teams if stranded in the ocean. The application, which has been used for 700 hours by users as of March 2017, also provides access to training and educational resources like fish processing best practices in video, audio and PDF formats optimized for use on mobile devices so fish processors can deliver higher quality fish products that command better prices.

In addition, program participants, who have logged into the WISE application more than 5,550 times, also use a newly developed electronic market information system accessible to fishermen and fish processors, enabling them to negotiate the best price for their catch or processed fish, ultimately increasing their income.

Mobile connectivity also provides easier access to information about affordable loans that help participants expand their businesses by working with local micro-lending institutions.

The WISE program, implemented by FHI 360, was launched in 2016 and expands upon the Wireless Reach portfolio which includes several fishing-focused initiatives. An earlier version of this solution, also developed by TCS, known as Fisher Friend, was originally launched in India in 2007. The success of the WISE program in Senegal has increased widespread interest from various governments along the Western Coast of Africa in scaling this program to include in their countries.

V Rajanna, Vice President and Global Head, Technology Business Unit, TCS, commented, “This is a great example of how digital technologies can be harnessed to create a profound impact on the community at large. This program is positively affecting the lives of those in Senegal’s fishing community by addressing everyday challenges faced by them.”

“WISE is unique in its multi-sectoral approach, addressing entrepreneurship and livelihoods, gender, health, education and technology,” notes Berhane Gebru, FHI 360’s Director of Programs for TechLab, which develops technology and innovation strategies for development practices. “It builds linkages among fishermen, fish processors, government agencies, mobile network operators, and local NGOs to improve small-scale fishing and processing.”

A local fisherman from Mbour talked in detail about how he has used the application several times to access the GPS features and market prices; he also said that information from the application, including health and microfinance data, was shared amongst all community members at weekly meetings.

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