Ode to Skype

by Jon Thompson on November 27, 2007

Skype Logo

Of all the applications I have had the pleasure of using over the years one stands out above all the rest. Skype has been the aid worker’s friend for quite some time and has saved organizations countless dollars and perhaps even a few lives. The call quality is nearly perfect and you can’t beat the $0 price tag. A few highlights…

1) Sitting in my office in LA speaking with an associate in Chad who was sitting on a bed, at night, in the courtyard of her compound and connected to a VSAT via WiFi. I could hear the wind whistling through the tree branches above her.

2) We rolled out Skype at my previous organization’s HQ and found that for a 1hr conference call between two US cities, two European cities and one African city we were saving approximately $300/hr. We estimated a savings of $1500-2000/day with greatly increased communications.

3) After the Nias Island, Indonesia earthquake in April of ’05 the mobile towers were jammed for about 1hr in Medan, North Sumatra. However, Skype was running just fine when we returned to our desks and within minutes I had found an associate in Portland, OR who was up early and I passed on all the specifics. He immediately threw together an email notification and sent it off to a number of organizations. About 30 minutes later the story slowly began to appear on the international news sites.

Skype is an invaluable tool and while it may have recently taken a big hit in valuation it sure has my vote as one of the best humanitarian tools out there.

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