SMS in Action

SMS in Action is an interactive crowdmap that allows users to submit and search for SMS-based systems that aim (or claim) to have a social impact.  The map can be filtered by categories including Agriculture, Health, Emergency/Disaster Services, Banking, Economic Development, Information and Media, Education, and Governance with many of these categories dividing into further subcategories. Reports may also be filtered by report date.

Corresponding markers on the map can be clicked giving the user the option to zoom in/out or get more information. While clearly still in its early stages, the map has a lot to offer. A quick search for disease programs under medical/health returned over a dozen hits across the map. Additionally, users may subscribe to receive location-specific email alerts whenever a report is posted within 20 miles of a designated area.

09.30.11 ccarlon Advocacy Disaster & Humanitarian Relief Education Environment Health Livelihood & Economic Development

It is an unfortunate irony that often the poorest people pay the most for the lowest quality energy. In many areas, the rural poor pay as much as 5 USD per month for kerosene or battery power. SharedSolar is a project that attempts to develop the technology, and business case to connect these populations to better, more traditional energy sources. It does so by leveraging existing mobile networks. 

With SharedSolar, rural poor consumers make payments based on their usage by using a scratch card and adding credit via SMS. The system uses a micro-grid network to connect consumers to power, and each household uses a unique prepaid metering system. A group of up to 20 consumers (individuals, households, small businesses, or schools) are all located within a 50 meter radius of a single, central power source -- such as solar panels -- connected via an underground wire. 

At the same time, the SharedSolar team is testing and developing its business model to show that a case exists for micro-grids and mobile energy payment. The team launched an initial pilot in 2010 in Pelengana, Mali and currently has systems set up in Uganda and Tanzania. 

MobileActive.org spoke with Matt Basinger, project lead for SharedSolar, to learn more about the overlap of mobile technology and rural power.

06.13.11 MelissaUlbricht Environment 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