The 6th Regiment Infantry U.S. Colored Troops (a.k.a.6th USCT) is like many small non-profits:
- Its' comprised of a cadre of volunteer members who are geographically dispersed, with varying access to and knowledge of technology .
- Activities and resources are funded from a mix of out of pocket and fund raising activities, mainly for supporting operational costs related to travel, phone, and consumable supplies.
- Venues are located where there is no network or Wi-Fi access.
- It shares a publicly funded facility with other organizations at its' location which means computers and data are relatively exposed.On occasion we've had vandalism of equipment.
- There is no Wi-Fi or network access at its' facility or at most event locations.
These conditions make it a challenge is to create, store, and disseminate information safely and publish activities in a timely manner. Mobile technologies have provided us with a solution. Through the use of a Red Fly smart phone terminal, and smart phone, and its' 3G network access, At meetings we're able to inexpensively create, safely store and immediately disseminate documents, such as minutes to our members' email, and post to and display from our Google calendar. The data stays on the phone and online where accessible to members. At events I'm able to send live video clips to our website though Qik, and submit articles to Now Public and 6th USCT's blog. I can play a slide show as part of a display, access member information, and update our mailing list as on the spot.
The cost to the regiment for all this capability was the cost of the Redfly, which we purchased at the promotional price for under $200. Any member with a smart phone running Windows Mobile can use it. Since I already subscribe to AT&T's business data plan with my phone that's the only cost.
Surfing the Internet via the smart phone is not a panacea. The Windows Mobile browser isn't fully HTML compatible. Even with the Redfly's keyboard wider screen, web pages not designed for mobile devices can be difficult to view and navigate, and the mobile versions, if they exist, can have reduced functionality. Using the smart phone's native capabilities and applications the Redfly turns it into a flexible, insexpensive connectivity platform.