How can you share information across rural areas with limited or non-existent Internet connections? This is the question that Awaaz.De, an India-based organization that uses interactive-voice-response (IVR) systems to share information on mobile phones, is working to answer.

Co-created by Neil Patel and Tapan Parikh, both at the University of California at Berkeley, Awaaz.De is used by organizations to share information with voice as the primary channel. This could, for instance, take the form of a question and answer service, voice discussion forums, voice surveys, and automated calls.

Because of the open-ended structure of the Awaaz.De platform, the platform has been adapted by very different organizations. Labor Voices uses Awaaz.De to allow migrant workers to review jobs and employers in a voice database; the Development Support Centre uses the service to provide information to small-scale farmers as part of the Avaaj Otalo project (covered by here), and Galli Galli Sim Sim (the Indian version of Sesame Street) uses the service to allow pre-school teachers to share teaching experiences and information about educational activities.

According to Patel in a post on the ICT 4 Community Health Worker discussion list, there are now eight organizations using Awaaz.De. These organizations have, together, produced more than 100,000 calls from about 10,000 unique callers. 

11.07.11 AnneryanHeatwole Citizen Media Democratic Participation

Sauti ya wakulima, "The voice of the farmers", is a collaborative, multimedia knowledgebase created by farmers from the Chambezi region of the Bagamoyo District in Tanzania. By using smartphones, farmers gather audiovisual evidence of their practices, and publish images and voice recordings on the Internet.

Since March 2011, the participants of Sauti ya wakulima, a group of five men and five women, gather every Monday at the agricultural station in Chambezi. They use a laptop computer and a 3G Internet connection to view the images and hear the voice recordings that they posted during the week. They also pass the two available smartphones on to other participants, turning the phones into shared tools for communication. The smartphones are equipped with GPS modules and an application that makes it easy to send pictures and sounds to the Internet. The farmers at Chambezi use them to document their daily practices, make reports about their observations regarding changes in climate and related issues, and also to interview other farmers, expanding thus their network of social relationships.

11.04.11 cubo23 Livelihood & Economic Development

SMS is everywhere, in an amazing diversity of applications. From enabling 'instant protest' in the Philippines, Spain and Albania, to election monitoring in Ghana, Lebanon, and Sierra Leone to HIV/AIDS education and support in Mexico and South Africa, we've seen that 160 characters can make a difference. This How-To covers the basics of setting up an SMS campaign system, looking at different approaches to suit your goals, budget and technical expertise.

What do you want the system to do?

Before you start, it's important to have a clear vision of how you want to use the system, and who the target audience might be. You should also do a level-headed audit of the resources available, including funding as well as staff time and technical expertise. If this doesn't look promising, take heart! Sometimes the most effective systems are the simplest, and you don't need a big budget for many types of SMS campaigns.

10.04.09 MelissaLoudon Advocacy Citizen Media Democratic Participation Disaster & Humanitarian Relief Education Environment Health Livelihood & Economic Development