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20 Years Ago

It was 20 years ago this month (September 2001) that the GOSH Child Health Portal was launched in London, UK. The award-winning website was called “One of the three most admired websites in the UK public and voluntary sectors”.

“Making sure that your child has helpful, easy-to-read information will make a significant difference to their time in hospital. I am sure that this website will prove very useful for children and their families.” Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Britain’s best-loved children’s hospital and charity, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust (GOSH), contracted me to lead a two-year project to modernise the hospital’s web presence and take its brand into the 21st century. GOSH is both Britain’s first children’s hospital and a pioneering child health institution (along with its partner the Institute for Child Health). The hospital’s outstanding reputation meant the project was carried out under intense public, media and professional scrutiny, and required a keen awareness of new media developments and the needs of the hospital’s patients, their families and the public.

The project was developed in three, distinct phases. Screen grabs from these phases are now available for download and evaluation. They also include web traffic statistics. This unique snapshot of a complex project as it unfolded, should prove useful for other e-health practitioners.

Phase 1: www.scribd.com/doc/47241951/GOSH-Child-H ealth-Portal-Proj...
Phase 2: www.scribd.com/doc/47242473/GOSH-Child-H ealth-Portal-Proj...
Phase 3: www.scribd.com/doc/47242267/GOSH-Child-H ealth-Portal-Proj...

In 2001, the project also launched an interactive Christmas child health advent calendar offering top tips from health professionals on how to have a safe holiday season. The PDF can be viewed here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/44905926/Christmas-Advent-Calendar-for-GOSH-Child-Health-Portal-2001.

A great way to track the historical development of a web project is to use the Wayback Machine’s internet archive here. By typing in the web address (for example, www.gosh.nhs.uk, and www.gosh.org), you can see a chronological history of the website by month.

Read here about the child health portal project’s vision and strategy, its launch and overall impact. Or download a brief Powerpoint presentation here: GOSH Powerpoint.

In 2003, the UK’s Guardian newspaper called the Children First website one of the “three most admired websites in the UK public and voluntary sectors,” and a UK government assessment called the overall GOSH child health web portal a role model for the NHS.

In 2006, The Times of London called Children First the Top Child Health Website in its Wellbeing on the Web: The Best Portals survey (November 11, 2006).

What we did 10 Years Ago

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2021

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Information Accelerates Crisis Recovery And Development | 1997

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The United Nations Information (UN Info Shop) was established by UNDP Mongolia in 1997 and was managed by the UNDP Mongolia Communications Office. Context is everything. At this time, Mongolia was still recovering from the chaotic and turbulent transition from Communism to free markets and democracy begun at the start of the 1990s, called by some “one of the biggest peacetime economic collapses ever (Mongolia’s Economic Reforms: Background, Content and Prospects, Richard Pomfret, University of Adelaide, 1994)”. There was a thirst for information: access to the Internet was still limited and access to mobile phones was just the preserve of the rich. As a legacy of the past, information, especially that about the outside world and the country’s true economic and social conditions, was restricted. During the years of Communism, even simple travel from one place to the next was strictly regulated. 

While today we can take it for granted that the Internet, and mobile and smart phones, deliver the world’s information in seconds, this just was not the case in the late 1990s in Mongolia. 

The UN Info Shop quickly became a crucial resource for students (many schools and universities were nearby) and it became a first stop for many wishing to access the Internet. It also substantially raised the profile of the UN in the country as the public could, for the first time, enter the UN building and discover what the UN was doing in the country. They could also visit the UNDP Mongolia Communications Office and meet its team. 

UN Info Shop cover
P. Dagmidmaa reads the Human Development Report Mongolia 1997 in the UN Info Shop.
UN Info Shop inside
Outside the UN Info Shop 1.0
The UNDP Mongolia Communications Office Team 1998 outside the UN Info Shop in the capital, Ulaanbaatar: David South, Bayasgalan and Bayarmaa.
Many initiatives grew from the talented and dynamic UNDP Mongolia Communications Office team. Here are links to some of them:

Ger: Mongolia’s First Web Magazine

Mongolian AIDS Bulletin

UN/UNDP Mongolia Development Web Portal

Case Study: UN + UNDP Mongolia | 1997-1999

© David South Consulting 2017
In 1998 Der Spiegel’s “Kommunikation total” issue profiled the global connectivity revolution underway and being accelerated by the Internet boom of the late 1990s. It chose my picture of a satellite dish and a ger in the Gobi Desert to symbolise this historic event.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2021