NDItech has recently been doing a lot with FrontlineSMS. Via their blog they share thoughts on experiences using the software: Given its heritage it's not surprising that FrontlineSMS really nails our mantra of "appropriate technology" in a number of ways.
- It doesn't have a steep learning curve. Our partners in Eastern Europe downloaded and got it working on their own before I even got to show it to them.
- It runs on very common technology
- It communicates with people where they are: text messaging. Across Africa, as we've mentioned, mobile phones are far and away the best way to reach people.
In the vast swaths of the world where only elites are on the internet, this is a great way to build connections between organizations and their members, whether civil society groups, political parties, or other groups.
We're using Frontline in Haiti, where Katherine is involved with getting local "Information Centers" connected with their constituents via FrontlineSMS.
But it's also valuable in other situations: where there may be internet access, but it's heavily filtered, censored, monitored or otherwise controlled by the government. SMS texts can be monitored as well, of course, but it can be easier to fly under the radar if your volume is not too high or you're not using sensitive keywords.
The great flexibility of FrontlineSMS makes it easier to recover from blocking, too. If all you need is a normal phone, changing numbers - and making the censors find you again - can be as easy as swapping SIM cards.