Presentation made at: Young Professionals Conference: Innovative Ideas to Feed the World
S.F. Raza (World Food Programme, Pakistan)
PMIR (Price Monitoring using Interactive-Voice Response) Technology for Monitoring Food Prices. A Mechanism of using Automated Phone Calls to a Grocers’ Network.
The objective of the PMIR is to provide a simple, user friendly and cost effective, predictive food price monitoring mechanism that enables food security practitioners to predict food access issues across the country.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a technology that allows a computer to interact with humans through use of voice and phone set’s keypad-tones. Interviews of general grocers and retailers based on automatic phone calls, offers a simple and cost effective way to collect prices of staple food along with local unskilled daily wage rates in their area. This may prove to be an effective source to complement the information gaps with a higher update frequency. Network of grocers can call or be called through an automatic system to ask questions about the consumer prices of selected food items. These questions can be responded by pressing the prices on the phone keypad. At the end of interview, the responder may receive a few minutes worth of airtime credit-voucher (say @$1/interview). Thus providing a systematic evidence-base for programming at micro level in remote/inaccessible areas without any logistics cost. The technology doesn’t require a particular handset or any particular software installed on the client side.
The development of a PMIR will adhere to the following steps:
1. Establishment of an initial network of 144 volunteer grocers (@ one grocer per district) at country level.
2. Setting up of a PMIR Server Machine containing the price database and allied software(s) for managing the calling record of the grocers accessing the server through a toll free number.
3. Designing of an interactive and self-explanatory set of audio questions for the grocers.
4. Formulating a reporting mechanism for generating automated analyses regarding various elements of food security for a particular area.
PMIR-resembling mechanism can be used for other imaginative tie-ins including security incident reporting or reporting of food requirements for WFP programming.
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