Today Frontline turns 10 years old! And we've come a long way. Frontline started as a way to make communication easier, using SMS as a way to reach everyone quickly and efficiently. We were founded on the idea that increasing access + efficiency = impact, and that's what we've done ever since. Frontline's most powerful stories come from meaningful, two-way engagement that's owned and controlled by the user. Our ability to get up and running quickly, without the need to negotiate with a mobile network operator or hire a team of consultants has put our toolset in some of the world's most difficult settings, from international disaster response to election monitoring in some of the world's most remote locations. But as many others have said over the years, it's not just the technology - it's the way an organization or system uses it that determines impact. And even though we agree - we think we can make it a lot easier for users to do well. You don't have to know how to build a car to drive one, and you shouldn't have to know how to program to build good engagement. That's why we made Activity Templates - easy to use tools to build professional mobile engagement without ever writing a line of code.
Even back in 2005, SMS was not a new technology - but then, like now, it was the world's most used technology. With more than 3.6 billion active users, even the big social media players have a long way to go to catch up. Still, SMS is one tool in a pretty large set of options, mobile now connects to web services, moves money, and has chat protocols of its own. As we turn 10 years old, we’re looking back at where the app has come from and where the app is going.
To celebrate our double digit birthday, we’re releasing products aimed at two of Frontline's most powerful use cases - campaigning and emergency response. In 2008, Frontline's first scaled use case was covering a group of election monitors covering the Nigerian Presidential race. We took that case and broke it into two major activity types: campaigns and emergency reporting.
You can check out what we’ve built on our Campaign Page and Emergency Alerts Page. Both of these show the power and value of SMS as a way to unite individuals for critical, up-to-the-minute messaging, all from Frontline’s award-winning user interface.
And, of course, it wouldn't be Frontline if we weren't working with a broad and diverse community to test, learn, and grow the tools. To raise awareness in Frontline's role in campaigns and emergency response, our CTO, Alex Pitkin has been busy in Pretoria and Berlin the last two weeks ahead of our launch, showing off Frontline’s fresh look and how campaigning, alerts, and real time messaging has transformed the work of our users.
Both in Berlin and in Pretoria, we've shown how Frontline fits into wider workflows making SMS an integral part of communications strategies. One of the simplest and more interesting applications that we scoped was how to crowdsource instances of news outlets making false claims in Western Europe. Using Frontline and SMS, users can alert a team of activists and researchers to respond and hold politicians accountable. The search for truth is both a campaign and an emergency.