Central Illinois Business Magazine


Changing the world, one video at a time

Bridget Broihahn

By Bridget Broihahn

Nobody would argue that effective communication is one of the keys to a successful life. Julia Bello-Bravo, Assistant Director in the Center for African Studies at the University of Illinois, could not agree more.

"It's important to share information with other people," she said. "We want information, and we want to share it with others."

Bello-Bravo and Barry Pittendrigh, professor in the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois, collaborate on the Scientific Animations Without Borders program. SAWBO puts Extension information on relevant topics such as agriculture, disease and women's empowerment into 2-D, 2.5-D and 3-D animations, which are then voice overlaid into a variety of languages.

"We were traveling together, on a ride home from Chicago, and we had the pieces come together," Pittendrigh said of their project.

All SAWBO animations are made freely available to anyone wishing to use them for educational purposes. Animations can be downloaded from a variety of SAWBO channels and used on computers, tablets, cellphones, TVs and overhead projection systems. The SAWBO video animators work in three main areas: agriculture, health and women's empowerment.

According to Bello-Bravo, millions of educational needs go unfulfilled every year. She believes that ordinary cellphones have the opportunity to be the greatest educational tool of our age.

"You wouldn't believe how far more important a

cellphone is to someone in West Africa than we realize," Pittendrigh said. "With Bluetooth transfer, villages use them in such creative ways."

Bello-Bravo said that even in the most rural areas of West Africa, the locals are very tech-savvy. Over 60 percent of the world's cellphone users live in developing nations.

"The villagers check crop and market prices on their cell phones," she said. "They use their phones constantly to do their business."

To date, SAWBO has developed more than 30 different 2-D and 3-D animations with voice-overs in over 50 different languages. The animations are really useful because, according to Bello-Bravo, many people in West Africa do not read or write.

"If you consider that in a country, such as Ghana, that has 70 different languages, it can be cost-prohibitive to produce videos that everyone can understand," Pittendrigh said.

However, with animation, the ability to comprehend such topics as survival gardening, Ebola prevention and how to wash your hands greatly increases. Additionally, the SAWBO team does its work online and that can be very cost-effective to produce the information.

Bello-Bravo maintains that the ideas for animation videos are endless.

"We can do this for any subject. I completely want people to view the videos and pass them along to others all over the world," Bello-Bravo said.

There are many opportunities to assist SAWBO with donations and collaborations. Go to http://sawbo-illinois4.org/ for more information.

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Fresh edition of CIB

By Bridget Broihahn

Hello everyone. My name is Bridget Broihahn and I'm the new editor for CIB. I look forward to getting to know more about the businesses in Central Illinois. This issue has been exciting to create.

Spring is finally here, and business in Champaign County is alive and well, ready to take on the outdoor season.

That is certainly true for BRG Sports, our feature story. This outstanding company just keeps breaking records and winning awards in business. Led by energetic and enthusiastic general manager Lewis Hornsby, this crew makes hard work look easy as they gear up for the bicycling season. His energy level had me motivated, and the employees left me energized.

I also hope you'll check out the article on Scientific Animations Without Borders, better known as SAWBO. Barry Pittendrigh and Julia Bello-Bravo came up with a great way to share information worldwide through animation. It's free, and a great resource for the world community.

The dedicated businesspeople I had the chance to share some time with for this issue inspired me. This includes Steve Tarrant of State Farm. He's one of those people who pulls up a chair, cracks open a soda and lends you a hand. He makes your peace of mind his business.

Additionally, I had the chance to hang out with the game designers at Volition. This unique group made its mark in the video gaming industry, and has made Champaign home. They even gave this mom of a teenage boy some cool points, if just for a little while, anyway. That's no small feat!

Bridget Broihahn is editor of Central Illinois Business magazine. She can be reached at 217-351-5695 or bbroihahn@news-gazette.com.