FrontlineSMS:Radio

The Radio Star Strikes Back

The Radio Star Strikes Back

More than 95% of the world’s population uses radio, making it the most popular communication technology in the world. Radio stations and DJs have also been some of Frontline’s earliest and most inspirational users, taking on climate change advocacy, coordinating responses during emergencies, amplifying voices for peace during conflict, and bringing communities together.

Now Showing: Africa's Voices

Now Showing: Africa's Voices

Coming to you from the University of Cambridge's Centre of Governance and Human Rights, we are pleased to feature a short film about the Africa's Voices project.  This research pilot project supported local radio stations to use FrontlineSMS for audience participation, in an effort to continue to enhance citizen-based dialogue. Radio is still the killer app in Africa for sharing information. Adding mobile turns a one-to-many medium into a two-way interactive opportunity, empowering people to ask questions and hold their leaders to account.  

Combining Local Radio and Mobile Phones to Promote Climate Stewardship

Combining Local Radio and Mobile Phones to Promote Climate Stewardship

According to the report, with support from the Foundation to Promote Open Society, Developing Radio Partners (DRP) launched the one year pilot project, working with three local radio stations in each country. The primary aim of Zachilengedwe Tsogolo Lathu, as the participants named it ("Our Environment, Our Future"), was to empower rural Zambians and Malawians to address key climate change issues, especially local deforestation, by improving their access to information on the subject via radio and mobile phones.

FIRST Response Radio - Life Saving Information in Disaster

FIRST Response Radio - Life Saving Information in Disaster

A big thank you to Mike Adams, the INTL Coordinator, for sharing his experiences with FrontlineSMS and further schooling us on how radio can facilitate in saving lives!  In times of disaster radio not only saves lives, it can also bring hope and critical information to the affected community. When the 2004 tsunami struck Banda Aceh, Indonesia, all the radio and TV stations went off air. Similarly, during the 2005 South Asian earthquake, the only radio station near the epicentre lost its tower and went off air. In times like these, people are in desperate need of news and information on how to get to safety and how to survive. However, the unfortunate trend seen recently is that when radio is so important, many times it goes off the air and does not come back until well after the emergency is over.

FrontlineSMS case study featured in new Rockefeller Foundation report: Learning from experimentation

The Rockefeller Foundation recently launched a new website, Capacity to Innovate.org, which examines lessons from a number of organizations including Ushahidi and Internews, and encapsulates them in three short reports which are well worth a read. FrontlineSMS is featured in the 'Learning From Experimentation' report, available from the website. Here's an excerpt, but we really recommend the whole report as a very readable and thought-provoking set of examples.

FrontlineSMS bring a free, innovative solution to African broadcasters

On August 29th 2012, balancing act featured Amy O'Donnell as she introduced FrontlineSMS: Radio to the world and how SMS is changing the way media houses interact with its listeners. Thanks balancing act for this great piece!

As TV and radio broadcast markets intensify across several liberalized African countries, broadcasters need to find solutions to create more interactive communication with their audiences and build loyalty among them. SMS is one of those. There are a few SMS management software available out there butFrontlineSMS, a rather discreet solution provider has already been in the front line to support several African broadcasters. Sylvain Beletre, Senior Analyst, Balacing Act talked to Amy O'Donnell, Project Manager at FrontlineSMS on how SMS can be a very powerful media tool.

Looking at recent audience surveys across the African market, it is obvious that local audience want local content. Indeed, radio and TV operators have responded by increasingly shifting from a one-way broadcast to media that reach audiences by integrating interaction with listeners into programming.

But the lack of communication with the audience and the lack of finances are often major barriers for broadcast organizations working in African countries. Not knowing exactly what people want to watch and listen and not being able to check facts on the field, broadcasters have to find alternative solutions to make their job easier if they want to avoid being eaten up by more powerful competitors. And if broadcasters do not know their audience's program needs, they lose market share together with potential advertisers' revenues.

To read more, please click here.

Interview with European Journalism Centre Magazine: Is FrontlineSMS:Radio Advancing Social Change in Africa?

Amy O’Donnell, Radio Project Manager at FrontlineSMS:Radio recently spoke to Alessandra Bajec from the European Journalism Centre Magazine about the way FrontlineSMS is used to facilitate dynamic conversations between radio stations and their listeners in Africa and beyond. By enabling the powerful combination of radio broadcasting with SMS, FrontlineSMS:Radio is empowering and engaging communities across the globe. Republished here with permission or you can read the original post here. By Alessandra Bajec

Q. How has FrontlineSMS technology influenced African media?

Exponential growth in use of mobile technology has meant that many African media outlets are interested in using this technology effectively. By downloading FrontlineSMS and plugging in a mobile phone or GSM modem to a computer, people can use SMS in more sophisticated and professional ways.

We are moving from having contributions fed via SMS into an individual’s phone to a more open way of integrating SMS into content. We’re also supporting citizen journalists with tools for digital news gathering.

In Zambia, for example, Breeze FM radio uses FrontlineSMS to communicate with journalists. After gathering news tips received from the general public, the radio station organizes the evidence, sends SMS to journalists who may be out in the field, encouraging them to verify the facts and report.

Q. What is innovative about the FrontlineSMS software plugin?

With Version 2 recently released, FrontlineSMS has a user-friendly interface making it easier to manage larger volumes of messages, and to customize the software to better meet user needs. Pending messages can be sorted in a more timely fashion.

Read more on the FrontlineSMS:Radio blog.

SMS Builds the Radio Star

FrontlineSMS:Radio was recently featured on PBS Idea Lab - a group weblog by innovators who are reinventing community news for the Digital Age. Authors are winners of the Knight News Challenge that focuses on reshaping community news and Participation. The post by Amy O'Donnell, Radio Project Manager, is republished below or you can read the original post here.

Radio's history has spanned over 100 years and it continues to reach billions -- even in remote and underserved regions. So when UNESCO announced that the inaugural World Radio Day was to be celebrated on February 13, one question on many people's lips was: Why now?

A diverse World Radio Day panel gathered in London last month to demonstrate that, if anything, radio is growing in importance. Discussions about radio are more relevant than ever because innovations are rejuvenating radio programming, particularly in opening up channels for participation. Technology to spark this change need not be on the cutting edge either; it's just as exciting to realize how radio stations around the world are employing existing tools in new and ingenious ways.

Sixty-five percent of the world's population is not online, according to an ITU report. But people are demonstrating that they need not have an Internet connection to have a voice in the discussions that affect them. By using their mobile phones, audiences are increasingly able to contribute opinions to discussions or news tip-offs for reporters, making radio programming responsive, relevant and appropriate.

This reinvention of radio sparks recognition of the fundamental importance listeners place on radio as a participatory and localized platform. While voice calls bring richness to a show, the number of contributors is limited by time. SMS, on the other hand, has almost no limit, allowing space for engagement which represents more people. Crucially, incorporatingSMS feedback allows radio to reflect local debate and concerns.

In an era where every revolution has a hashtag, we must remind ourselves that community radio has been a forum for collective dialogue for more than 100 years. By a generous estimate, Twitter has 500 million users. Juxtapose this with the 6 billion active mobile subscriptions and 95 percent of people who have access to the radio.

Radio is particularly important for those who aren't online or able to get a newspaper delivered. Radio requires minimal electricity (a negligible amount with a windup or solar radio) and tuning in is free. Applications using SMS with radio -- two of the world's most used platforms -- is proving that mobile technology has the power to create new possibilities by transforming radio from a one-way broadcast to a two-way dialogue with listeners.

FrontlineSMS's free, open-source software, which assists with the management of text messages without need for the Internet, is being used in radio contexts in more than 80 countries.FrontlineSMS:Radio is a tailored version of the software developed with this in mind. The tools we've built are designed to assist with the analysis of aggregating of text message data so that DJs can relay opinions to audiences while live on air. We now have 20 stations across Africa taking part in the trial, and one of them has received 16,000 messages in just three months. The large regional, cultural and economic variation in platform adoption is why at FrontlineSMS we're focusing on the ways that traditional platforms can be used to complement each other.

At the World Radio Day panel in London, speakers stressed the importance of the decentralization of radio: a need to ensure that ownership of programming is in the hands of communities. The penetration of mobile coupled with innovative applications of FrontlineSMS allow radio managers to incorporate audience feedback and lean on listeners' insights to shape audio content.

Another theme identified on World Radio Day was that for many, radio is the most trusted information source -- second only to word of mouth -- and this is based on the personal connections people feel with radio presenters by interacting with them. As communities themselves are able to determine topics up for discussion, these can lead to actions that dramatically change lives. The change in relationship between radio stations and their communities is fostering an evolution in even traditional (or institutional) broadcast environments. It is this need for local dialogue which underlies the motivation of FrontlineSMS to support radio stations that engage with listeners.

It's great that radio gets one day a year to enter into a global conversation. But for me, it's important these discussions happen more often to build momentum in people interested in sharing and innovating around the radio -- in particular, how to make radio interactive and preserve space for locally appropriate discussions to thrive. Neither video nor social media have killed the radio star. In fact in many places -- when coupled with SMS -- locally representative radio is taking central stage.

World Radio Day: An Opportunity to Celebrate an Unsung Hero

We have been excited to play a role in celebrating the first ever World Radio Day here at FrontlineSMS, through our sector project FrontlineSMS:Radio. Our Radio Project Manager, Amy O'Donnell, has been central to proceedings; helping to organise a successful World Radio Day event in London and attracting significant media attention, too. Below is an article Amy wrote about World Radio Day for the Guardian Development's Poverty Matters blog. You can view the original post on the Guardian website.

By Amy O'Donnell, Radio Project Manager, FrontlineSMS

World Radio Day celebrates radio's role in empowering people in remote communities – not just as a source of information, but increasingly as a way to make their own voices heard.

In a world of increasing opportunities to participate in public debate online via social media, the blogosphere and comments on news sites, the first World Radio Day on 13 February, organised by Unesco, reminds us to celebrate the radio as an unsung hero that is steadily empowering people to access information and – crucially – to respond to what they hear.

Radio is the predominant source of information in areas of the world that are sometimes too remote to get a newspaper delivered, let alone access the internet. This is why Unesco has noted that radio is a "low-cost medium, specifically suited to reach remote communities and vulnerable people".

Attention given to technology for information communications has recently been captivated by web-based applications, especially "new" or "social media". But about 65% of the world's 7 billion people do not use the internet. In addition to those who are offline due to lack of access, there are also those who are unaware, unable or simply do not want to use social media.

People listen to the radio in their cars, on the move and at work. Radios don't require large amounts of electricity, and wind-up radios don't need an electrical source at all. Moreover, radio reaches large groups of people, being easily shared among families or listener groups. It is a medium often used as a focal point for community discussion on subjects including politics, elections and service provision. Radio efficiently reaches large audiences in real time. But can radio – a one-way broadcast platform – ever replicate the participatory impact of Twitter, Facebook or Google+?

Different technologies are changing the ways in which radio is used as a platform for engagement. At the end of last year, the ITU 2011 report revealed that there are almost 6 billion active mobile phone subscriptions. The ubiquity of mobile technology presents an exciting opportunity even for those in "last mile communities" to interact with radio shows using a tool they already have.

Take "The Organic Farmer" in Kenya, for example. The radio show gathers questions from its listener community of agriculturalists. On one occasion, reports surged in via text message about a disease affecting chickens in the area. In response, the radio show invited an expert to analyse the crowd-sourced evidence, diagnosed the cause as "Newcastle disease" and helped to organise vaccinations.

Similar to social media, the most important aspect of successful radio programming is participation. Seeking feedback from listeners helps to generate and guide content, which in turn increases local relevance and stimulates dialogue. Radio stations are increasingly reliant on audiences to be their eyes and ears, as they seek new tips to mobilise journalists who report from the field. More importantly, this enables more people to have a voice in the discussions that affect them. Mobile interaction "closes the loop", enabling audiences to listen to a discussion, contribute insight, and then hear their views encourage additional participation.

This may include challenging decision makers or service providers, which can be particularly powerful when feedback is democratically obtained. Pamoja FM has used listener input to challenge water cartels in Kibera, Kenya; Breeze FM in Zambia has held discussion on its "Issue of the Day" programme about upcoming elections; and Malawi's Mudzi Wathu FM has taken health questions from listeners to ministers, and relayed the answers on air.

Calls are a powerful way of getting opinions across – but there's only so much airtime. For those who can't get through, SMS is a digital and asynchronous way for listeners to express themselves, and this increases engagement. For example, DJs can ask listeners to respond to SMS polls, enabling them to get many points of view without requiring significant airtime. When using software such as FrontlineSMS, this can be automated and visualised, making these real-time interactions easy to understand and rebroadcast. Over time, radio stations can use this kind of digital data to analyse audience behaviour and the popularity of different shows.

In a "Twitter like" way, radio, combined with the ubiquity of mobile, can be a platform for community discussions that change people's lives. Radio stations are being called upon to embrace new technology, but it is fundamentally important to make use of tools that are available locally, engaging people on the platforms they already use. As radio stations and tool providers all over the world are discovering, it is possible to do smart things with dumb phones.

This post was originally seen on the Guardian Development's Poverty Matters blog.

How Journalists Are Using FrontlineSMS to Innovate Around the World

This post was originally shared here on Media Shift's Idea Lab blog. By Flo Scialom, FrontlineSMS Community Support Coordinator

So much can be said in 160 characters. As we've started to look at tailoring FrontlineSMS software for journalists, we've realized just how much potential there is to use text messaging as a news source.

As FrontlineSMS's community support coordinator, I interact every day with people and organizations that are using SMS in innovative ways. Increasingly, I've come across uses of FrontlineSMS as a journalistic tool, and this is particularly exciting for us as we embark on building new mobile tools to help increase media participation in hard-to-reach communities.

FrontlineSMS is a free and open-source tool, so its most interesting uses have always come from motivated, engaged users who discover and experiment with ways to use SMS to improve what they do. When we talk about using SMS for journalism, some people immediately jump into thinking about how they could cram an entire newspaper into 160 characters. Obviously, that would be a bit tight. What our users have found, however, is that there are lots of ways to use shorter communication to enable effective journalism.

In fact, FrontlineSMS users regularly demonstrate how a wealth of information can fit into 160 characters. It's through the creative ingenuity of our users that the impact of using SMS as a news sharing tool really comes to life. The following are some examples of our users that answer the question: What difference can SMS make for the media? Read More

TEXTING INTO RADIO SHOWS

Equal Access is an innovative organization focused on using media and technology to help support development. In Chad and Niger, Equal Access runs interactive community radio shows that feature topics such as politics and religion and discuss how to overcome community tensions. With listeners keen to discuss these topics, Equal Access needs an accessible way to manage regular audience interaction. FrontlineSMS enables users to manage large numbers of incoming and outgoing SMS, providing the ability to view multiple messages on-screen, set up auto-replies, and divide contacts into groups depending on their interests. Using these functions, Equal Access sets up a way for audiences to text into its radio shows, and is able to effectively manage incoming audience text messages while on-air.

The Equal Access team talked about the value of this in a guest post on our blog, saying, "We use FrontlineSMS to create interaction ... and this shows listeners that they are being heard. In closed communities, or those struggling with violence or intolerance, the act of engaging in an interactive dialogue ... can help people feel engaged and included."

Equal Access' use of SMS demonstrates that 160 characters can be enough to enable audience engagement. And it's not just radio audiences that engage in this way (although the combination of radio and SMS is prominent, as seen through our work on FrontlineSMS:Radio).

RAISING AIDS AWARENESS

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, SMS has been used to engage opinions from audiences of a television drama broadcast called "Rien que la Vérité" (meaning "Nothing but the Truth"). One of the aims of this broadcast, which isn't just your standard entertaining drama, is to raise awareness and challenge stereotypes on HIV/AIDS. Viewers of "Rien que la Vérité" were given the option to interact with the show's producers via text message. In this case, hearing from the audience via SMS helped demonstrate whether opinions on HIV/AIDs are being affected by the show's content.

For both Equal Access and "Rien que la Vérité," using FrontlineSMS software enables more efficient audience interaction, making text messages easier to manage, respond to, and analyze.

Ongoing audience interaction is clearly important, and in today's changing media landscape the audience is now a major news provider, too. Even in areas where there's no Internet connection -- where the power of social media has yet to reach -- citizen journalists are still playing a key role in the production of media content.

BREAKING NEWS IN 160 CHARACTERS

Harry Surjadi, a Knight International Journalism fellow, is enabling citizen journalists from remote offline communities in Indonesia to break news in 160 characters. Surjadi has used FrontlineSMS to set up a system in which incoming reports from citizen journalists can be forwarded via SMS to groups of subscribers who would not necessarily have access to news from other sources; the result is a truly innovative and powerful SMS news service which is proving successful already.

The system is run with Ruai Citizen Journalism Training Center, part of a local television station in Indonesia called RuaiTV, and was set up with support from Internews. Surjadi's motivation in setting this system up was to enable remote indigenous communities to actively engage in producing media content, and due to the accessibility of SMS, he is achieving his news-sharing goals.

It's exciting to see how FrontlineSMS is allowing people to engage at a wider community level. Our users have demonstrated the wealth of potential uses of SMS in the media. Through our community, I've seen that 160 characters can speak volumes -- facilitating dialogues, providing a voice to isolated communities, and, ultimately, providing access to information that can help improve lives.

Image courtesy of Ken Banks of kiwanja.net.

Communication for social change: How to turn a stone into a sponge (it’s not magic, it’s design!)

Earlier this year we heard from Equal Access about their radio project in Chad and Niger. Dr. Karen Greiner conducted 3 months of field research over a two-year period as an external evaluator of the radio programs, producing an evaluation report as a result. Drawing on this work in the below post, Dr. Greiner shares her reflections on projects which invite interaction and promote dialogue. In the world of communication for social change, design matters. The strengths and limitations of communication program design, and

of the chosen medium or form of communication, can affect the reception and use of content. For example, let’s say that a communication intervention is designed to disseminate information to community members about the importance of hand washing to avoid illness, and the medium used to convey this information is a written billboard message next to a crowded marketplace. The location might be well chosen but the form limits reception to those who can read, understand the chosen language, and happen to see that particular billboard. There is also no way to engage in dialogue with a billboard; a billboard, by design, is to be passively consumed.

What if we had chosen, instead, the medium of radio? With radio we can reach even those who cannot read, and we can also reach those who live beyond the marketplace, provided they own or have access to a radio. We still have to carefully consider language. For example, if we want to reach the urban teens in Dakar one would have to consider whether content be in French, Wolof, or both (budget permitting). And one might also translate content into additional languages for regional broadcasts. Whichever decision is made on choice of language, radio can clearly improve access and reach. The medium of radio, however, does not necessarily engage listeners in dialogue - radio is still often used for the disseminating messages.

The billboard and the traditional radio broadcast are one-way forms of communication – they are to be received and not responded to. I call one-way forms of communication “stones.” Stones are closed, impenetrable and finalized; we cannot “talk back” to stones. A stone can be converted into a “sponge,” however, when the form of communication is designed to invite response – to invite dialogue. A sponge is porous; it has holes - entry points - that allow liquid (or in this case audience members) to enter and exit. In this instance, the analogy of communication intervention-as-sponge is provided as the open alternative to the closed-form stone.

A radio broadcast converts from stone to sponge when it invites interaction; and one way to do this is to offer interaction through SMS. When an SMS number is embedded in the radio broadcast, along with an invitation to listeners to respond to the broadcast, audience members are given the opportunity to react and to share their opinions and ideas. Sponge designs invite dialogue.

An example of this type of engagement is provided by radio shows in Chad and Niger. From 2008 onwards, the San Francisco-based non-profit organization, Equal Access has been running several radio shows designed to promote democracy and encourage civic participation in community life as part of the Peace through Development project (PDEV). They recruited a talented team of local journalists and media professionals to produce and broadcast radio programs on topics ranging from civic engagement to community health and sanitation.

The design of the radio programs is very innovative, and very porous. Each radio program had several “sponge”-like features. Early designs of the program included an embedded text message number so that listeners could respond to radio content using their cell phones. PDEV staff-members used FrontlineSMS software and systems to track and organize audience member messages. In some cases the content of text messages inspired program producers as they wrote new scripts. In other cases the message senders were called and asked if they would be interested in forming a local listening club. Towards the end of the project, program producers began including the content of audience member text messages in new broadcasts. So, for example, messages received in response to broadcast #37 were included in broadcast #40.

This inclusion of audience-produced content is the difference between two-way dialogue and one-way monologue. Designs that invite audience input still face limitations of cost, literacy, language and access to technology. Some of these limitations can be addressed. For example, to offset the cost of sending messages, PDEV project staff was eventually able to obtain a toll-free phone number for the SMS in Niger. Mindful that literacy can be a barrier to text messaging, project staff – the last time I visited the project – were experimenting with an open source, interactive voice response (IVR) telephone software called FreedomFone. The combination of FrontlineSMS with FreedomFone enables more radio listeners to enter the dialogue – or enter the “sponge.” In this sense we can see that the design of our invitations for input to listeners also has implications for inclusion; the more we can reduce cost, language, literacy and technology barriers the more likely we are to hear from a wide and diverse range of listeners.

The design our communication interventions reveals our worldview: do we see a world populated by passive, ill-informed “targets”? Or a world made up of active, thoughtful community members with ideas and opinions worth reading and hearing? In short, should we be “monologic,” by continuing to disseminate and broadcast messages, or might we aspire to be “dialogic,” by trusting in the capacity of community members, engaging with them and inviting them to consider our ideas and then also share their own?

The good news is that it’s possible to convert an inventory full of one-way stones into two-way sponges. Add a phone number to your billboard. Use FrontlineSMS software not just to send messages but to receive them as well. Add an email address, phone number or office address to your brochure and invite community members to get in touch and, even better, to suggest improvements to what you have created. It’s not impossible – and never too late - to turn a stone into a sponge. A new design, based on faith in the agency and creativity of community members, is all it takes.

Of course, all analogies have limitations. The “sponge” analogy does not quite capture the dynamic potential unleashed by porous designs. The creative contributions of listeners may need a different organic analogy, and I would be grateful for suggestions. Thus to practice what I am preaching with this blog-post, I invite you to help me convert monologue to dialogue by responding and adding to what I have offered here. What do YOU think? Can you help me improve the line of thinking I have just put forward? Or contribute a more “dynamic” analogy to supplement the “stone” and the “sponge”? Let us declare blog post officially porous. Even critics are invited! So, if you would like to comment on (or improve!) this post, you are invited to do so below.

By Karen Greiner, Ph.D. Post Doctoral Scholar, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida. Email: kgreiner [at] gmail [dot] com.

Visit the Equal Access website here to read more about Dr. Karen Greiner's evaluation and access her full report on 'Applying Local Solutions to Local Problems'.

To learn more about our work combining our FrontlineSMS software with radio, visit the FrontlineSMS:Radio website: http://radio.frontlinesms.com/

Get the Word Out: Using SMS to Support Harm Reduction for Vulnerable Women

Guest post from FrontlineSMS user Gordon Gow, University of Alberta Here at the University of Alberta we are using FrontlineSMS to support graduate student research in communication and technology. Among its range of activities, the Mobile Applications for Research Support (MARS) Lab provides access to FrontlineSMS and mobile phones to allow students and community groups to set up and run pilot projects using text messaging.

UniAlberta2
UniAlberta2

Among our projects, the MARS Lab is providing support for “Get the Word Out” program operated in partnership with Edmonton’s Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation (CEASE). CEASE works through partnerships to create and pursue strategies to address sexual exploitation and the harms created by prostitution. Their work includes public education, client support, bursaries, counselling, trauma recovery and emergency poverty relief for individuals working to heal and rebuild their lives after experiencing exploitation.

“Get the Word Out” is a harm reduction service that uses FrontlineSMS to enable women involved in prostitution to anonymously report incidents or concerns about violence or crime that is affecting them or may affect others. The program also offers an network for these women to share thoughts or provide peer-based social support using anonymous text messages. FrontlineSMS is set up to auto-forward incoming text messages to a distribution group that includes frontline support agencies and clients who have chosen to subscribe to the service. The auto-forwarding process removes the callerID from the text and preserves only the contents, ensuring anonymity of the issuer. Text messages are also forwarded to a set of email addresses provided by the frontline agencies, as well as a protected Twitter account.

The MARS Lab is also involved in other projects using FrontlineSMS.  For example, it is working in collaboration with Simon Fraser University to pioneering the use of FrontlineSMS in combination with Ushahidi to explore the use of social media in campus health and safety.  This project is using FrontlineSMS to receive text messages from students and staff at both the University of Alberta and Simon Fraser University to report health and safety concerns on campus. The goal of the project is to better understand how text messaging can provide a low cost, low barrier means of reporting to encourage the campus community to help mitigate risks to health and safety on a university campus.

Furthermore, in early 2012 the MARS Lab will be launching a pilot project in partnership with LIRNEasia and the Sri Lanka Department of Agriculture to explore the use of text messaging to support Agricultural Extension Services in the Dambulla and Matale districts. This pilot will involve deployments of FrontlineSMS at three agricultural information centres and is also expected to include a deployment of FrontlineSMS:Radio with a local radio station to support audience interaction for one of the live agriculture talk shows.

It's great to see the diverse range of projects which the University of Alberta is supporting in their use of FrontlineSMS! This post was originally shared on the FrontlineSMS Community Forum. You can see the full original post and connect with Gordon on our forum here.

Researching FrontlineSMS use at radio stations in Kenya

Re-posted from FrontlineSMS:Radio blog

FrontlineSMS:Radio is being developed and deployed in collaboration with the Centre of Governance and Human Rights (CGHR) at the University of Cambridge. This partnership represents a unique opportunity to gather evidence about how audiences interact with radio stations via SMS and how these interactions can affect their participation in public affairs. CGHR are utilising this opportunity to research whether and how innovations in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are enriching citizen-led governance in Africa, in particular through the combination of radio and SMS.

Entitled, New Communications Technologies and Citizen-led Governance in Africa, the two-year CGHR research project is now well into its operative phase. Between July and September, CGHR’s research team will start conducting fieldwork in Kenya and Zambia to critically analyse how technology is being utilised on the ground. Working closely with local radio stations, the project will seek to capture how information flows through local networks and how new communication technologies, such as mobile phones, interact with older ones. It will also set out to analyse how the hybrid of mobile phones and the radio fit together in long term patterns of use of communication for political participation.

Read more on the FrontlineSMS:Radio blog