Frontline SMS Launches New Version, Continues to Foster Change

Global Voices recently revealed an update on the work of Frontline SMS, Ken Banks’ revolutionary communication software. The Kiwanja.net blog detailed that over three hundred NGOs have downloaded the new version of Frontline SMS and over a hundred have joined the new online community, using Frontline software for missions ranging from connecting health care practitioners, to educating farmers, to empowering women.

Here are a few inspiring initiatives utilizing Frontline SMS software:

Josh Nesbit has been using mobile technology in the rural health initiative in Malawi, “setting up a text-based communications network for a rural hospital and its Community Health Workers (CHWs) using Frontline SMS.”

The Grameen Technology Centre in Uganda has incorporated Frontline SMS into its AppLab by turning “mobile phones from a luxury item into a valuable expenditure-saving and income-earning tool.” The Grameen Foundation’s Village Phone program, which began in Bangladesh as part of the foundation’s groundbreaking microcredit program, has expanded to Uganda, Rwanda, and Indonesia, using mobile technologies to empower women – now known as “phone ladies” – and their communities.

The Australian Centre for Agricultural Research has implemented workshops on Frontline SMS software into its Cambodia Crop Production and Marketing Project. The project uses SMS technology to “facilitate the sharing of knowledge and information at all stages of the value chain from famer to end-user” in order to “deliver practical benefits” to rural farmers.

Frontline SMS has not only managed to effectively connect software developers and practitioners, as Ethan Zuckerman noted, but it has also found a way to bridge the divide between online and offline activism. By creating a channel through which a larger, more diverse network of people can connect with one another, especially in developing countries, such mobile technology software has triumphed in providing individuals a platform by which to affect meaningful change for both themselves and their communities.

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2 Responses to “Frontline SMS Launches New Version, Continues to Foster Change”

  1. kiwanja Says:

    Thanks for picking up on this.

    It’s certainly been an interesting month, with a number of extremely interesting (and varied) projects beginning to apply FrontlineSMS in their work. The software remains work in progress, and we’re already planning further enhancements and integration into other platforms, such as Ushahidi (http://www.ushahidi.com).

    Slightly more relevant to your internet and democracy blog would be its continuing use in Zimbabwe. I wrote about this late last week here:

    http://www.blogspot.kiwanja.net/2008/07/zimbabweans-speak-out-through-sms.html

    It’s going to be an interesting journey. Thanks for coming along!

    Ken
    http://www.kiwanja.net

  2. Amina Says:

    Thanks Ken, for your comment and for your continued work for Frontline SMS.

    These are only a few examples – It’s aweinspiring how many groups have incorporated the software and the kinds of powerful projects that are being propelled, either for political purposes or otherwise.

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about Frontline SMS’s work in the future!