FrontlineSMS and Telecoms Sans Frontieres are making it happen in Niger

by Jon Thompson on February 18, 2009

These days the success stories coming out of the humanitarian/tech community are few and far between.  There are many apps and groups struggling to put out a workable product, one that does actually impact the beneficiaries and doesn’t just look cool.  FrontlineSMS is consistently at the head of the pack and is enjoying growing acceptance within the humanitarian community.  Over at the FrontlineSMS blog there is a post by a two guest authors from Telecoms Sans Frontieres.  They have nothing but praise for the product and talk about some innovative ways they are looking at putting FrontlineSMS to use in the future.  From the post:

On that note, our first FrontlineSMS initiative is about to launch, and will provide an SMS security alert forwarding service to Niger’s NGO community. This will allow aid workers to instantly warn the community about security issues in real time.

Concretely, we see other immediate applications for FrontlineSMS in Niger. These include the use of the new Forms feature for data collection for the National Health System which collects and monitors the number of cases per pathology in health structures. FrontlineSMS could also be used to collect market prices, and even to disseminate those prices to small farmers.

We are also planning to test its interoperability with satellite phones which will allow us and our partner organizations to extend its usage into areas not covered by mobile networks. We also plan to use it in our responses to sudden-onset emergencies where mobile networks are often disrupted.

Summing up, FrontlineSMS is a fabulous tool and one which presents huge opportunities to non-technical NGO users. Saying that, don’t be fooled by its simplicity – as well as standard incoming and outgoing group messaging, it has plenty of advanced and extremely powerful functionality. From our testing and evaluation, and our discussions with partner organizations, it looks like FrontlineSMS has infinite applications in the humanitarian world, and this is great news for those we are trying to help.

Way to go Kiwanja and kudos to TSF for putting FrontlineSMS to good use.

Read on…

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