<ul><li>Information for Action </li></ul>
<ul><li>Problem:   lack of real time information  </li></ul><ul><li>Solution:  use simple phones to gather info </li></ul>...
Malawi
 
 
 
 
 
 
<ul><li>Costs low since health workers have cells </li></ul><ul><li>Training </li></ul><ul><li>Costs of SMS messages </li>...
 
CHILD +l allon c7476 u1495 s102 form CODE CHILD +lallon c7476 u1495  s102 number of separated and unaccompanied children l...
CHILD: Allon, 7476 children, 1495  children under 5, 102 separated or unaccompanied.  Thank you for your data! CHILD: Allo...
 
Type of Water Source 1  Open Well 2  Closed Well 3  River 4  Piped Spring 7  Open Spring 8  Other Must know info:  locatio...
WATER +lmalumgoka s7 ty wn form CODE location name water pointtype code open defecation  y/n example form about  WASH WATE...
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RapidSMS - Information for Action

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Christopher Fabian of Unicef's Innovation Unit presentation outlining some of the operational advantages of RapidSMS in some of Unicef's African programs at the Global Pulse Data and Analytics Workshop in Tarrytown, NY on September 8-10, 2010.

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  • The thinking around RapidSMS and how we could get some key pieces of information quickly originated out of the explosion of use of cell phones in even the most remote areas. The reach of the medium is only outdone by radio. - Working within the constraints of SMS has led to a lot creativity --The limitations of getting structured information by SMS are that you only have 160 characters. This is the time when you really have to pare down your data needs. What are THE 3 most important pieces of information that you will need in order to get a fuller picture of what is happening on the ground, that will allow you to make better decisions, better target your resources and act quickly and assuredly? The creativity is when you realize you can get a great picture of what is needed on the ground through 160 characters. - Working with computer programmers and end users we designed a way to get information from many data points and collect it all on one system that can be seen on the web, graphed and mapped.
  • One of the best ways to understand how the system works is to give you the real example of what UNICEF and the government did in Malawi in 2009.
  • Malawi has an early warning system for famine in place. Clinic workers measure a child’s nutritional status each month - height, weight, middle upper arm circumference, presence or not of oedema.
  • So, the old system - pre RapidSMS is Linear and Unidirectional 1) Community Health Worker (CHW) collects nutritional data 2) The CHW sends the data to the Ministry of Health (MoH) via post (or other) system delivery 3) No feedback to the CHW, caregiver, or child. 4) Data is utilised primarily for long term planning The process we modeled was this, the community health worker, there are very few nurses or doctors, recorded these measurements and then sent them to the government. Unfortunately they did not understand why they took the measurements or use them to diagnose malnutrition but used less accurate methods such as the texture of children&apos;s hair.
  • So the system we put in place looks like this. The health worker enters the data directly into the phone as an SMS. RapidSMS can parse the message, sorting out errors and maps and graphs it, giving the government real-time information it can immediately use to pinpoint problems and react to them. And this is the way Nutritional Monitoring in Malawi works now: 1) Healthcare worker to central SMS system. 2) Central SMS system allows for data visualization - real time - mapping - graphing
  • Additionally, the data is on the web where UNICEF and other development and humanitarian partners can use it and not just locally but at a country level, a regional level and even a global level, cross-comparing regions and tracking progress. 3) Central SMS system aggregates and sends data to: - government - UNICEF - country office - regional office
  • The RapidSMS team’s greatest insight came from a suggestion that one of our software developers made. The health workers had not known why they recorded the data before much less been thanked. Why not send a thank you. Then we realized if we sent a thank you, why not send a diagnosis as well. The servers were already doing the calculations.
  • So the system sent back an SMS with a diagnosis and the health worker was empowered by the information to act to help the children, maybe with daily feedings or just monthly checkups depending on severity. So the act of collecting data was turned into an action which directly benefited the children themselves. 4) So - not only does the system do what it used to do, but faster and better - but it also goes back to the source: the central SMS system feeds back to CHW three things: - thank you (powerful incentive) - No one ever said thank you before! - feedback on accuracy (error in data entry)‏ - critical information regarding status of child (undernourished, etc.) allowing, for the first time, for immediate agency on the part of the CHW The system can directly affect the welfare of children. CHW can share feedback with mother/caregiver
  • Additionally the system is cost effective to implement, since the health workers already had their own phones UNICEF only had to pay for the cost of training and the cost of the SMS messages themselves.
  • This is an example of the training materials we made. The following slides show how RapidSMS could be used for initial assessments in an emergency. The example we are using is of a hypothetical earthquake that has destroyed lots of infrastructure and services for communities. The assumption here is that UNICEF has monitors in the earthquake affected zone and they know what they are supposed to be monitoring and what format / syntax to use
  • This is what a monitor in the field would send in by SMS. The form code - in this case it is CHILD as the monitor is counting children. The location name - in this case the village he is in is called Allon The total number of children - in this case there are currently 7476 children in Allon The total number of children under 5 - in this case there are 1495 The number of seaparted or unaccompanied children - in this case there are 102
  • This is what the SMS that the monitor would receive back from RapidSMS confirming that he had entered the data correctly
  • as monitors go from town to town, camp to camp etc, data starts coming in on a dashboard (this is an example of a LLIN distribution campaign dashboard in Nigeria - its just to illustrate). This data can be exported to excel for further analysis.....
  • So, we have data on children and locations. What does this mean for example in the context of UNICEF’s response for WASH. This is when you have to ask yourself - what do we really need to know in order to respond? The scenario we were in was post earthquake where hygiene and sanitation facilities had been largely destroyed. We knew that there were a lot of spontaneous IDP camps forming and we knew that there had been reports of diahhrea. The area to cover was so vast and there were so many partners on the ground. Where were conditions the worst? Where were there large numbers of people? What were the essential risk factors that we needed to know about in order to figure out - Where, How Many, Who etc. - Where would we target our efforts, using which tools, to have the most impact?
  • For the WASH form - this is what a monitor in the field would send in by SMS. The form code - in this case it is WATER as the monitor is indicating what types of water points there are in a given location and if there are risky behavior going on. The location name - in this case the village he is in is called Malumgoka The water point type being used is an open spring, there is open defecation and there is no handwashing.
  • RapidSMS - Information for Action

    1. 1. <ul><li>Information for Action </li></ul>
    2. 2. <ul><li>Problem: lack of real time information </li></ul><ul><li>Solution: use simple phones to gather info </li></ul><ul><li>SMS =160 characters: i.e. can’t do MICS but can be fast </li></ul><ul><li>RapidSMS: turns individual SMSs in to meaningful information, displaying, graphing and mapping it on the web </li></ul>
    3. 3. Malawi
    4. 10. <ul><li>Costs low since health workers have cells </li></ul><ul><li>Training </li></ul><ul><li>Costs of SMS messages </li></ul>
    5. 12. CHILD +l allon c7476 u1495 s102 form CODE CHILD +lallon c7476 u1495 s102 number of separated and unaccompanied children location name number of children number of children under 5 example form about children
    6. 13. CHILD: Allon, 7476 children, 1495 children under 5, 102 separated or unaccompanied. Thank you for your data! CHILD: Allon, 7476 children, 1495 children under 5, 102 separated or unaccompanied. Thank you for your data! SMS monitor gets back:
    7. 15. Type of Water Source 1 Open Well 2 Closed Well 3 River 4 Piped Spring 7 Open Spring 8 Other Must know info: location, type of water source and risky behavior ( open defecation and lack of handwasing ) Designing a WASH rapid assessment form for
    8. 16. WATER +lmalumgoka s7 ty wn form CODE location name water pointtype code open defecation y/n example form about WASH WATER +lmalumgoka s7 ty wn handwashing y/n

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