Cloud-Based SMS Solutions: Technology Salon

Posted by nadodi on Jun 11, 2010

We had another great Technology Salon today, this time on Cloud-based SMS applications that showcased four interesting applications -- ChildCount+, Jokko, Happy Pill, and Patatat. And, in big news of the day, Matt Berg succeeded in breaking the Tech Salon cardinal rule of no slideshow presentations (and I am making it public knowledge in case someone needs ammunition in the future).

The rapid adoption of mobile technology by end users has also resulted in a corresponding proliferation of pilot projects around the world. A number of projects discussed in this Salon have cross-over potentials not just across borders, but even across sectors. Here are some notes and links to applications, all in the interest of wider dissemination beyond the group that was at the Salon.

ChildCount+: Health data collection from the field using cell phones, with multi-SMS chains providing streams of information that are collected, aggregated, and reported on (see ChildCount case study on MobileActive). The reports provide both the Health Ministries and the local communities a working document of all child-related health indicators. Deployed with RapidSMS, the project's goal is to create living registries of all data related to children such as births, immunizations, infections, and so on in one central location.

Local Software Development: There is an ancillary project to ChildCount+ that also has significant development potential. The word development in this case indicate both software and sustainable community development. The software for this project is developed with local software engineering talent, some of whom are graduating from a 6 month Agile/RapidSMS programming course in Python and Django, thus making them more employable in the future.

Jokko Initiative: Tostan is using cell phones as tools to "amplify social change." The project uses cell phone as an educational tool, providing both the trainings for how to use the phone itself as well as how to turn your phone into a vehicle that serves your needs (see Jokko case study on MobileActive). For instance, Jokko uses a mango tree with branches as a real-world example to explain the concept of cell phone menus on the one hand, while on the other demonstrating how the ability to use the cell phone calculator feature can prevent you from getting fleeced in the market.

Happy Pills: Project that uses cell phone flashing (a.k.a leaving a missed call) as an automated way to remind subscribers to take prescription medication at the appointed time. Since the system will call and hang up before the user picks up (thus leaving a missed call), there is no calling costs to contend with. The Smart PillBox, a somewhat related technology that uses a pillbox attached to a cell phone to monitor and remind owners to take their pill, is already available in the market. These projects are extremely useful for health care providers to monitor their patients' adherence to the treatment regimen.

Patatat: A group text messaging service that makes it easy to create, manage, and send out SMS messages. The system provides a pretty expansive global coverage with ClickaTell, TextMagic, and Google Voice as messaging gateways. It uses a pay to send, free to receive model, so a very active messaging list may cost the list owner a pretty penny. However, if the list is productive and effective alongside being active, then it would be a worthwhile cost to bear.

If you are looking for more mobile phone projects, check out the ones highlighted in the Mobile Technology 4 Social Change Camp in Bangalore, India blog post as well.

Cross-posted on Women's Learning Partnership blog.

Image from Flickr Creative Commons image library. Charge Your Mobile Here (cc) sour_doll

Charge Your Mobile Here (cc) sour_doll

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Cloud-based SMS


Very interesting post on some unique SMS technologies. The various public service use cases for texting seem to be growing on a daily basis.  At Globaltel Media, we've helped coordinate a wide variety of uses for SMS technology, from healthcare communications (appointment reminders, diagnostic images/x-rays, rehab demonstrations via mobile video) and public safety alert systems (volunteer firefighters, hurricane warning systems, etc) to education and the enterprise. From the management perspective, SMS-based systems can provide significant ease of use and cost savings. It will be interesting to see how the SMS adoption trend continues, and how companies leverage it to make the world a better place. Thanks again.


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