Coinciding with Mobile World Congress, a triumvirate consisting of the UN, Vodafone and the Rockefeller Foundation are to unite in providing help and advice to remote and disadvantaged communities.
According to the UN press release, the mHealth Alliance will attempt to maximise the benefits of health information through the use of mobile technology and the 2.2 billion handsets in the developing world.
Mobile networks have a clear advantage in providing communications where more traditional fixed line infrastructures are impractical for so many reasons.
Unfortunately various projects have foundered on the long decision making process, committees and research leaving little if any money for actual deployments.
This is a shame as low cost technology tailored to these environments clearly exists, even for the remotest of communities, and the widest of health care, education and advisory needs.
It will be interesting to see what, if any, real achievements, other than more reports, the mHealth Alliance will announce at next years MWC.
On a more positive note Bill Gates has enough money, and now the time, to make a positive contribution. In effect there is a decision making committee of only two, he and his wife.
Micro capital projects, and the ability to get the best price for crops, are proven to raise families and villages from poverty.
Virtual money through PayPal and web only cards are well established at providing very low cost banking facilities in first world markets.
Combining the two to make transfer of funds using mobile technology can simplify many daily transactions, but importantly ensure capital reaches the families who can most benefit from it.
There is no reason why both can't succeed but many motivated people have invested time and effort into such projects in the past only to be let down by their sponsors.
My guess is Bill will succeed where the mHealth Alliance will get bogged down in officialdom.