FrontlineSMS. Why aren’t ICT4D solutions focused on users on the ground, rather than top-down solutions in the image of technological brilliance in the developed North? Cheap or free, not internet dependent, easy to implement, infrastructure light, fast adoption …
FrontlineSMS: turns a laptop, mobile phone and modem into a two-way communications systemFree and simple to acquire, easy to use, networked into the FrontlineSMS user community forum where new ideas and innovations, success stories, problem-solving etc shared.Agriculture: market prices, ag extensionRONGEAD in Cote D’Ivoire uses FrontlineSMS to send market prices for cashews to small producer farmers: world’s second largest exporter and 250,000 producers. Sends 3,000 SMS weeklyHealth: district and primary health; community health support networks; monitoring and campaigning (Stop Stockouts)Livelihoods: job centre alertsElection monitoring & corruption tracking
Version 2, exciting new developments... [focus on end-users; hands-off; focus on the margins/long-tail] functionalities and user-interactive experiences >> relating this to the theme, power in people's hands.Amy O’Donnell and Flo Scialom from FrontlineSMS are here to answer questions
Sister projects: versions of FrontlineSMS tailored to specific user groups.
Radio still rules in Africa: over 90% of households own a radio. But for all its muscle connecting the masses, radio communication remains mostly one-way. If radio was more interactive, listeners could share information, communicate grassroots reactions to current affairs and mobilize change. Radio, meet the mobile phone. Penetration 1 in 4 in 2008, estimated 1 in 2 by 2013. Caveats: geo variance, gender, literacy, usage, cost.
RadioThe Organic Farmer, a Kenyan magazine about ecologically friendly farming practices, recently launched two radio shows aimed at smallholder farmers. John Cheburet, the radio producer has started using text messaging to transform his radio show from a one-way broadcast medium to a two-way dialogue between members of the farming community. The show receives texts from farmers seeking agricultural advice and John uses FrontlineSMS to manage the interaction with the audience. Organic Farmer in Kenya: FADECO Radio is based in the Karagwe district of Tanzania, near Lake Victoria. Through the combination of radio and FrontlineSMS Joseph Sekiku, FADECO’s founder, shares information on diverse topics, including agricultural advice and market prices. Prior to FADECO Radio there were no newspapers, TV or internet in Karagwe; the community was completely cut off from information flows. BREEZE FM
What might FrontlineSMS:Radio be able to do?Audience feedback Listener polling, live debates Live listener Q&A, opinions ‘Call back’ & IVR Citizen journalismProgramme innovation Audience feedback archives ‘Meet the official’ accountability sessions; election monitoring Citizens’ advice Interactive sessions on agriculture, health etc
SO WHAT?Pull driven, local innovation model: M&E?; bigger questions?
1. Sharath Srinivasan<br />radio.frontlinesms.com<br />@smsradio<br />Centre of Governance and Human Rights<br />University of Cambridge<br />firstname.lastname@example.org<br />
3. Mobile v Internet in Africa <br />(source: Appfrica Labs, Guardian Unlimited Jan 2010)<br />
5. Version 2<br />
7. “The only technology that compares to the mobile phone in terms of pervasiveness and accessibility in the developing world is the radio. Indeed, considered together, radios and mobile phones can serve as a broad-distribution, participatory media network with some of the same citizen media dynamics of the Internet, but accessible to a much wider, and non-literate audience.” Ethan Zuckerman, 2007<br />
9. Radio still rules<br />Nkhotakota Community Radio, Malawi<br />Courtesy of DRP<br />Nkhotakota Community Radio Station in Malawi<br />
10. Community Radio and technology’s ‘long-tail’<br />Breeze FM, Zambia: Community volunteers with presenter (standing) <br />Courtesy of DRP<br />
11. PamojaFM, Kibera, Kenya<br />Courtesy of Emil Graesholm<br />
14. ResearchingICT innovations and citizen-led governance<br />How do new ICTs impact upon:<br />Public debate? <br />People’s political capabilities?<br />Citizen-State relations?<br />Relations with other governance actors?<br />Public goods? <br />