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February 14, 2012

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Natalie Eller

Kate, your blog post was very insightful and presents a relatively new method of service delivery that has not yet received much attention. Your idea of “mobility” of services was very helpful for my group’s final project on service delivery. I, too, focused on the mobility of the local food movement in mobile food pantries in both urban Richmond and rural Appalachia in our presentation.

Mobility has proved to be an effective solution to bringing the services directly to doorsteps of the neediest. The poor, in both urban and rural settings, oftentimes lack reliable transportation and public transportation infrastructure to take them to these services. Thus, mobile solutions, for health care delivery and food service delivery.

My only critique is that I am afraid that these mobile solutions are just temporary fixes to and do not solve the heart of the problem: the limits of access and faulty transportation. While innovations in methods of service delivery is necessary because of the very good reasons you present of the high investment, cost, time, and commitment of stable health clinics or grocery stores I still think establishing stable locations or strengthening transportation systems must not be overlooked.

Mobile community services that go directly into impoverished neighborhoods are definitely a necessary, but temporary solution. However, in order to solve the problem of access,a focus on solving the problem of unreliable transportation and the inability of the poor to move freely cannot be forgotten. “A vision of the future of transportation, in which all people will be able to transport themselves in a fast, convenient, and environmentally friendly way, using multiple modes of transportation” is a vision that the University of Michigan’s SMART program has developed.

The following article, in which you can learn more about the SMART program, talks about the necessity of mobile social services. However, it also talks about the overall term “mobility” as the actual mobility of the poor which allows them to move freely without depending on mobile services:
Why Mobility is Key in Helping the Urban Poor: http://sustainablecitiescollective.com/embarq/37352/mobiprize-moving-minds-moving-urban-poor

Again, thank you for your insightful piece! I think there will be lots of innovative strategies for mobile service delivery and it leaves me to wonder what other services, besides healthcare and food delivery, can benefit from mobile initiatives.

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