New Report: Lessons Learned from the Get Mobile Forum on Mobile Technology for Community Engagement

getmobileforum-7-150x150.jpegThis is a blog post by Beatriz Solis, Program Director at The California Endowment Healthy Communities (South Region), and Geoffrey Cowan, Director of the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy.

At the 2014 Get Mobile Forum, we invited technology leaders and local community organizers to learn from each other, exploring how organizations can use mobile technology in their efforts to engage and empower the communities of Los Angeles. Today we’re excited to announce the release of our report: Lessons Learned From the Get Mobile Forum on Mobile Technology for Community Engagement.


Download the report:

A lack of engagement is a serious issue in Los Angeles. The LA2050 project reports that compared to the rest of the US, “Angelenos are less likely to be involved in groups, less likely to engage in organizational activism, less likely to vote” and even less trusting of others. In order to improve the health and well-being of our communities, it’s critical that community members’ voices can be heard, regardless of their age, ethnicity, or which neighborhood they live in. Technology has the power to amplify their voices, but only if implemented strategically.

“The problem is not a lack of innovation. The problem is a lack of scaling something up when we find something that works.” — Dr. Robert Ross


Dr. Robert K. Ross and Professor Geoffrey Cowan

In the report, you’ll learn about the surprising power of low-tech solutions like text messaging, which Mobile Commons CEO Jed Alpert described as “the only media we know of that simultaneously is the best way to reach a rich person and a poor person.” Even paper, the simplest and most low-tech invention we have available, can encourage residents to build trust and visit new businesses in their neighborhood, as Games for Change co-founder Benjamin Stokes described in his presentation.

But one of the most powerful tools for empowering our communities lies in creating spaces like the Get Mobile Forum, where technologists can work directly with community members to ensure that new technology platforms meet their needs.


Jerlene Tatum (top), co-Director, from East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, shakes hands with Mari Lopez, Policy Director at Vision y Compromiso, Inc.

“When people work together, that in itself is an empowering phenomenon. It’s one thing to give them something; it’s another thing to give them the chance to participate in the creation of it.” — Professor Geoffrey Cowan

As you’ll read in the report, we’ve already seen a couple of collaborations inspired by connections made at the Get Mobile Forum, including a series of articles at KCET Departures written by Get Mobile Forum participants. We look forward to seeing how the connections made at the Get Mobile Forum will continue to yield new collaborations between the communities of Los Angeles and beyond.

We thank our speakers and participants for teaching and learning along with us, and hope that Lessons Learned From the Get Mobile Forum will serve as a jumping-off point for future forums and workshops.