Bulk Sms And Wougnet presentation at MobileActive08

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Bulk Sms And Wougnet presentation at MobileActive08

  1. 1. Bulk SMS and Wougnet: Texting for Social Action Nora Naiboka Odoi Senior Programme Officer Information Sharing and Networking Women of Uganda Network WOUGNET
  2. 2. Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET ) <ul><li>This is a non-governmental organization, initiated by several women’s organizations in Uganda in May 2000 </li></ul><ul><li>Its objective is to develop the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) among women as tools to share information, and to address issues collectively. </li></ul><ul><li>WOUGNET has over one hundred affiliated women member groups, located allover Uganda. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Communication among the women members <ul><li>New ICTs in particular email and the Internet, facilitate communication among the women groups and the international community </li></ul><ul><li>WOUGNET is interested in how these new technologies can be integrated with traditional means of information exchange and dissemination including radio, video, television and print media. </li></ul>
  4. 4. WOUGNET’s Structure <ul><li>Gender and ICT Policy Advocacy </li></ul><ul><li>Technical Support </li></ul><ul><li>Information Sharing and Networking </li></ul>
  5. 5. WOUGNET experience in using Bulk SMS <ul><li>SMS stands for “short message service”, a feature of mobile phones. Also known as text messaging </li></ul><ul><li>Widely used because it is cheaper than making a voice call between mobile phone users </li></ul><ul><li>In an effort to reach more people quickly and easily by SMS, a number of applications have been developed to send bulk SMS, </li></ul><ul><li>that is, a single SMS sent out, but delivered to a number of mobile phones. One of these applications is FrontlineSMS (www.frontlinesms.com). </li></ul>
  6. 6. FrontlineSMS <ul><li>is free software that turns a laptop and a mobile phone into a central communication hub. </li></ul><ul><li>Once installed on the computer, the program enables users to send and receive text messages with large groups of people through mobile phones </li></ul><ul><li>Unlike many other applications, it doesn’t require Internet connectivity to work, since it relies on the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) signal of your local mobile service provider. </li></ul><ul><li>because the software can be installed on a laptop, the tool can be used in remote areas that do not have regular power supply, as long as you have the GSM signal. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Communication to members on how to get BulkSMS to support a campaign <ul><li>Indicate the reason or theme of your campaign. </li></ul><ul><li>Indicate the Target group (whether it is a public concern or to a specific group of people). </li></ul><ul><li>Provide Mobile phone numbers of members of your target group. ( Softcopy in this case ) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Communication to members on how to get BulkSMS to support a campaign <ul><li>Indicate the Messages you would like WOUGNET to send out. Please make sure the messages are as precise as possible since each message is limited to 160 characters. </li></ul><ul><li>Specify the schedule on which the messages should be sent out. For example starting date and ending date. </li></ul><ul><li>At the end of your SMS campaign, please report to us the outcomes of your campaign and the impact of the bulk SMS service. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Campaigns that WOUGNET has supported using Bulk SMS
  10. 10. 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence <ul><li>This campaign took place from 25th November to 10th December 2007. </li></ul><ul><li>It reached over 170 participants drawn from 13 countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe, North and South America. </li></ul>
  11. 11. The plight of the girl-child in Kenya <ul><li>The campaign was carried out from 25th February to 14th March 2008 lead by EASSI(The Eastern African Sub regional Support Initiative). This is a WOUGNET member organization. </li></ul><ul><li>It has over 240 participants drawn from 20 countries in Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. </li></ul><ul><li>The aim of the campaign was to raise awareness of the plight of the girl-child in Kenya during the post-election violence in the country </li></ul>
  12. 12. Uganda Women’s campaign against domestic violence and sex offences <ul><li>Spearheaded by the Federation of Women Lawyers of Uganda (FIDA), this campaign took place at the end of May 2008. </li></ul><ul><li>FIDA wanted to mobilise women allover Uganda to participate in a peaceful demonstration without using traditional media that could sensationalize the issue </li></ul><ul><li>Within one week, the SMS tool facilitated reaching over 800 women with messages about the planned demonstration </li></ul>
  13. 13. WOUGNET’s SMS campaign on ICTs and Poverty Reduction <ul><li>Campaign theme was, </li></ul><ul><li>‘ ICTs: Is your wealth a click away? </li></ul><ul><li>The campaign was launched in a bid to test Mobile Advocacy Tools. </li></ul><ul><li>It was successfully carried out for two weeks in April/May 2008 </li></ul><ul><li>It proved that bulk SMS is a powerful campaign tool.  </li></ul>
  14. 14. Summary of the discussion that took place during the two weeks’ SMS campaign <ul><li>The campaign was guided by a different question each day. </li></ul><ul><li>The following are the questions that guided the discussions. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Questions that guided the discussions <ul><li>ICTs are seen as tools for socio-economic development. But, is this more of a theory than reality? How are ICTs being used to reduce poverty? What more can be done? </li></ul><ul><li>How can ICTs be embedded into effective strategies for reducing poverty? </li></ul><ul><li>What is not being done to use ICTs in the fight to reduce poverty, and why? </li></ul><ul><li>Which ICTs are most effective in reducing poverty? </li></ul>
  16. 16. Questions that guided the discussions <ul><li>How can ICTs be used in ways that achieve measurable results in a reasonable time frame? </li></ul><ul><li>How can successful initiatives be scaled up and/or be implemented successfully in other regions? </li></ul><ul><li>What can the private sector do to help facilitate the use of ICT by the poor? </li></ul><ul><li>Are there any examples where there are measurable results of ICT resulting in poverty reduction? </li></ul>
  17. 17. Synthesis of answers that were given to the questions during the SMS campaign
  18. 18. ICTs as tools for Socio- economic development <ul><li>The issue of access to ICTs was identified as one of the limiting factors: </li></ul><ul><li>Many participants indicated that it is not a matter of clicking away – one has to have what to click </li></ul><ul><li>Many women can not afford to use ICTs due to lack of access, the inapplicability of the content, illiteracy levels, costs and the general low standards of living </li></ul>
  19. 19. Embedding ICTs into Poverty eradication strategies <ul><li>ICTs were seen more in a theoretical context that was not well defined, as they did not have a direct bearing on development and therefore poverty reduction </li></ul>
  20. 20. ICTs as effective tools in reducing poverty <ul><li>Participants indicated that in order to get best results from ICTs, there was need for a combination of both traditional and modern ICTs. </li></ul><ul><li>It was also important to consider adaptability, cost, practicality and access for the best results. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Use of ICTs in achieving measurable results <ul><li>In order to achieve measurable results, the technology must be clear and have useful benefits for the community. </li></ul><ul><li>Timely reviews and decision making by all stakeholders was considered to be important. </li></ul><ul><li>The need for political will to formulate policy and establish functional institutions to promote these emerging technologies was needed . </li></ul>
  22. 22. Implementation and Scaling up of Successful ICT initiatives <ul><li>Regular and timely reviews, documentation of lessons learned, sharing of experiences and circulation of research reports with various stakeholders were some of the factors identified in implementation and scaling up of successful ICT initiatives. </li></ul><ul><li>SMS campaign participants also indicated that it was important to set SMART targets against which monitoring and Evaluation of the initiatives could take place. </li></ul><ul><li>Strategic Public-Private partnerships were seen as vehicles for stimulating markets. Successful models could be replicated through these. </li></ul>
  23. 23. The role of the private sector in facilitating use of ICT by the poor <ul><li>SMS campaign participants suggested that the private sector eliminates as much as possible business approaches that were not efficient and that resulted in unnecessary increase of the cost of utilizing ICTs. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples include inadequate sharing of infrastructure, excessive roll out of new products and services, wasteful promotion and advertising practices. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Examples of measurable results <ul><li>Community radio stations, community information centres, MTN village phones, public telephone booths, internet cafes and secretarial bureaus </li></ul>
  25. 25. What was not being done <ul><li>Poverty eradication strategies and ICT implementation strategies were being treated as separate entities </li></ul><ul><li>There is need to involve all stakeholders in the design process. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Face to face workshop <ul><li>At the end of the SMS campaign on ICTs and poverty reduction, a face to face workshop was organized for participants of the SMS campaign. </li></ul><ul><li>This was to facilitate further discussion on the key issues that had emerged during the two weeks of the campaign. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Workshop participants stand along a Spectrometer : Qn. Are ICTs the key to development?
  28. 28. Challenges in the implementation of the Bulk SMS campain <ul><li>To begin with, finding the right hardware was difficult. As a cost-cutting strategy, the tool was designed to work with old model phones which are cheaper; however, the data-cables to link these phones to the computer are not readily available. The problem was solved by using a GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) wireless modem. </li></ul><ul><li>The other problem was that as the database grew, the system slowed in delivery of messages, until it got to a point where the system halted mid-process every time one tried to send a message to the over 100-strong database of mobile numbers. As such, not every participant’s contribution was forwarded to the rest of the group. </li></ul><ul><li>To get around the problem of sending out messages promptly, we used the BulkSMS tool to send out messages, while still using FrontlineSMS to receive messages </li></ul>
  29. 29. Conclusion <ul><li>Overall the tool is good and appropriate for the local environment in which organizations operate </li></ul><ul><li>The Tool has potential for diverse, innovative, and cost effective intervention, for social action </li></ul>

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