In the spring of 2012 the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge of Phnom Penh (IPC), Cambodia conducted a pilot study on a text message-based pharmacovigilance tool. Don't know what pharmacovigilance is? Not to worry, neither did I! According to the World Health Organization, "Pharmacovigilance (PV) is defined as the science and activities relating to the detection, assessment, understanding and prevention of adverse effects or any other drug-related problem." The IPC used FrontlineSMS as a tool to follow up with patients after they received vaccinations.
I’ve been volunteering with the FrontlineSMS:Radio project and recently had the pleasure of speaking with Colin Spurway of BBC Media Action, an organization which helps people around the world to harness the media to promote change in their communities. Colin is the Project Director of Loy9(pronounced ‘Loy Pram-booun’), a multimedia initiative in Cambodia geared towards encouraging youth participation in civic life through the use of a television series, phone-in radio shows, online discussions and roadshows. We had a great discussion about the significance of the Loy9 initiative in promoting youth engagement in civic society through mobile technology, as well as some of the challenges.
Assessing whether to use SMS is even more important than figuring out how to do it, as Joshua Pepall, World Vision’s United Kingdom Senior Accountability Advisor in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, reports in a special guest blog post. Improved accountability to communities and value for money are hot topics for World Vision and for the UK Department for International Development (DFID), which funds the accountability for development pilot that l support in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Accountability and quality assurance guidelines like the Humanitarian Accountability Project (HAP) and INGO (International NGO) Accountability Charters highlight the need for agencies to effectively provide accurate and timely information to communities on project plans and activities. Doing this is not always easy.
World Vision development projects work through area development programmes (ADPs). ADP Catchment areas can be made up of dozens of villages, hundreds of households and thousands of people. A real challenge for World Vision staff is how to effectively communicate programme information to community members quickly, cheaply and effectively. Organising a meeting can take days and may not the best use of people’s time, or represent good value for money. Using SMS to provide basic information on project activities and to coordinate community engagement events seemed like one solution.
Mobile phone usage in Cambodia is remarkably high - everyone seems to have a phone. Judging by the number of people that own two or three, owning multiple phones is somewhat of a status symbol as well. Phones are relatively affordable here - a Chinese 3G phone can cost as little as $60 while a basic Nokia is as little as $18. Some estimates put the number of mobile phones registered in Cambodia at 13 million (BubbleCom, 2012). Nine mobile phone operators have invested heavily in mobile phone infrastructure and there is almost total coverage across the country.
It’s easy to get excited by new technology like FrontlineSMS, and start using it before listening to the people who will receive the information and give them the opportunity to decide if SMS is their preferred communications channel.
Effective information provision to communities of project information requires careful planning - you need to identify who your community audience is, and target your approach to that audience. Luckily, we had the flexibility and time to do this.
Our national and World Vision UK teams developed a simple community assessment questionnaire designed to learn more about community mobile phone usage, the cost of SMS and cell cards, phone ownership and the kind of information people wanted from World Vision.
We learnt a lot. Some of our assumptions were also challenged. Age did not seem to be the big obstacle to mobile phone use as we had anticipated and even the poorest village community members had phones and used SMS. People also wanted to use SMS to report issues of domestic violence in the communities to World Vision staff. Potentially, Frontline SMS might be able to be used for a variety of applications and not only to send information.
Rather than compile a big report about the assessment we set ourselves the challenge of communicating the results in one page - the infographic on the left.
So what next? We’re still SMS novices and learning as we go. We will be trialling the use of Frontline SMS in one village to send SMS to households on the date and time of community meetings and project information. By starting small we hope to learn what works and does not. By getting some wins under our belt we hope to then roll it out to other ADPs.
In this guest post new FrontlineSMS user, Sophie Baron, shares how she is currently using FrontlineSMS in a pilot study to monitor and contain the spread of animal diseases in Cambodia. This pilot was initiated by Dr. Flavie Goutard and Dr. Sebastien Le Bel from the Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD) and the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC). It is now providing valuable information to the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, through their National Veterinary Research Institute (NaVRI) at the Department of Animal Health and Production. In this post Sophie explains how the pilot has been set-up to overcome communications challenges, and discusses how FrontlineSMS is helping enable successful tracking and containment of animal diseases. By Sophie Baron
Infectious animal diseases are a major threat for the agricultural community in Cambodia. If levels of animal diseases are not monitored and contained effectively, this can have a negative impact on farmer’s livelihoods. I am working through the CIRAD, alongside IPC and NaVRI, to implement a targeted monitoring and surveillance system for animals. A pilot study is currently being implemented in two rural Cambodian provinces - Kampong Cham and Takeo. The sample for this pilot study is made up of 10 villages from each of 3 districts in both provinces; making a total of 60 villages. From each of the 60 villages, we asked the village chief and a selected village animal health worker (VAHW) to report the number of dead cattle, chickens, ducks and pigs in their village on a weekly basis. They were also asked to report the number of cattle infected by Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Hemorrhagic Septicemia (HS); and the number of cattle that died from these infections.
The data reported via SMS by village chiefs and VAHWs helps to provide a more accurate baseline of animal mortality, and serves to alert NaVRI when mortality is higher than usual. If the reports being sent indicate that mortality is high, someone from NaVRI is sent to the relevant village to take samples from the animals, which are used to diagnose the condition. Based on this diagnosis appropriate actions are taken which curb the potential for an outbreak. Receiving regular data via SMS - and being able to manage this data within FrontlineSMS - helps enable NaVRI to adopt more timely and effective response mechanisms to breakouts of animal diseases.
When we were designing the pilot study, there were some interesting challenges that we had to consider. The pilot was targeting rural areas where access to internet is slow, so we had to build a solution that was accessible. Luckily, most people have mobile phones in these rural areas, but there is also a low usage rate of SMS in Cambodia. This is partly because phones do not support Khmer characters – which is the official language in Cambodia - making texting very difficult, and in some cases impossible. In addition, a phone call costs approximately the same as an SMS in Cambodia, thus reducing the incentive to communicate via SMS.
However, the high access to mobile phones means that SMS still offers a viable solution and enables effective data collection; we just had to be aware to design our use of SMS to suit the context. To get around the language challenge, we implemented a numbering system so that users just had to submit reports via SMS using numerical values as opposed to sending fully written text messages. We went to the villages and offered personal training to those who would be submitting reports via SMS, and further explained and documented the numbering system. In order to incentivize people to send their SMS reports the cost of SMS is reimbursed. On a monthly basis, VAHWs and village chiefs are given sufficient mobile top-up to be able to send SMS reports throughout the month.
The way we have designed the pilot seems to be working well. In the first few weeks, there was a 90% rate of response from the VAHWs. We have experienced some initial errors in the report format, but Ms. Kunthy Nguon, research assistant at IPC was able to call to follow up and clarify any incorrect reports, and to inform those reporting of the correct way to structure the content.
Since the pilot has proved efficient in helping us to receive timely and accurate reports so far, I have recently installed FrontlineSMS at NaVRI, where reports will continue to be monitored. The pilot started in February 2012 and will continue as a pilot study until June 2012. Following this point, we will evaluate the success of our use of FrontlineSMS and we will be looking for funding to continue the project from June 2012 and to expand into additional provinces.
Under the supervision of Dr. Arnaud Tarantola, head of the Epidemiology and Public Health unit at IPC, we are also currently reviewing ways that FrontlineSMS can be used in some other IPC projects, for tasks such as monitoring success of patient vaccination and collecting patient feedback. It has been really valuable to investigate the different potential uses of FrontlineSMS across public and animal healthcare, and we hope to expand use of the software moving forward. Sophie Baron is a veterinarian doing a Masters in Public Health, and specializing on epidemiologic surveillance of human and animal diseases. Thanks to a Fondation Pierre Ledoux scholarship, Sophie is doing a six month internship based at Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC) as part of her studies.
Here at FrontlineSMS we are often inspired by the power of our user community. It is amazing to see the diverse ways people and organizations make use of our software, and we are always happy to support users in sharing their experiences with the wider community.
Over the past few months we have been excited to see the growing trend of FrontlineSMS user meet-ups; users meetings in different parts of the world, keen to discuss the use of FrontlineSMS software for positive social change. Thus far there have been user meet-ups in Haiti, Uganda and Cambodia, and just yesterday there was a successful user meet-up in Nairobi, too. If you would like to find out more about these user meet-ups, and perhaps even organize one yourself, visit our community forum today!
In the below post Sophie Baron, new FrontlineSMS user, reports on the first FrontlineSMS user meet-up in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
When you start out using a new software, it is great to have the support of a wider community. When I first started using FrontlineSMS I was keen to learn as much as possible, and meet others using FrontlineSMS too. This is how I got involved with the first user meet-up in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which brought together a diverse range of social change organizations including PACT, Equal Access, BBC Media Action, CIRAD (Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement) and Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC).
The goal of this first meeting was for FrontlineSMS users in Cambodia to gather in order to talk about their use of FrontlineSMS, discuss any common successes and challenges encountered whilst using the software, and generally share experiences. The meeting was made up of nine participants and was held at the Cambodian office of PACT, an NGO working on capacity building of local populations.
The meet-up kicked off with people introducing themselves and their projects. Everyone was using FrontlineSMS for different purposes, some for wider media campaigning (Equal access and BBC Media Action), and others for more focused monitoring projects (PACT, CIRAD, IPC). There were different levels of experience within the group. Equal Access had been using FrontlineSMS since 2008 and PACT since 2011, whereas BBC Media Action had only been using FrontlineSMS in Cambodia for one month and at the time of the meeting CIRAD and IPC had not started using the software yet.
During the discussions we were able to share potential solutions to challenges faced when using FrontlineSMS in Cambodia. Common interests were explored, such as the potential of improved collaboration with local mobile service providers. In addition, PACT shared how they have used Khmer script, explaining the opportunities provided as well as the challenges faced.
Personally, this meeting was very helpful for me because I had many questions answered regarding the use of FrontlineSMS. I was also able to email the group to ask for follow up advice when I started actively using FrontlineSMS. It’s so useful to have a local support network to help out with the software.
We hope to welcome new participants to the next meeting in Phnom Penh, which will be held on 30th April at 2pm and will take place at the PACT Office (Address: 3rd Floor, Building A, Phnom Penh Center, Corner of Sothearos and Sihanouk Boulevards, Phnom Penh). If you are interested please join this discussion on the community forum to connect with others in the group.
o/ Here at FrontlineSMS we look forward to hearing how the next meet-up in Phnom Penh goes! o/
About the author of this post:
Sophie Baron is a veterinarian doing a Master in Public Health specializing on epidemiologic surveillance of human and animal diseases. Thanks to a Foundation Pierre Ledoux scholarship Sophie is doing a 6 month internship as part of her studies at Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, under the supervision of Dr Flavie Goutard (CIRAD) and Dr Arnaud Tarantola (Head of Epidemiology and Public Health unit at IPC).
Guest post by Amanda Bradley, Director of Pact’s Community Forestry Partnership Program in Cambodia
The Oddar Meanchey Community Forestry REDD project is the first of its kind in Cambodia. This project was initiated in 2008 when international consensus crystallized around a mechanism called REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), aiming to compensate developing countries that could successfully protect their existing forests. Since the loss of forests equates with approximately 20 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, protecting existing forests is seen as a significant part of the solution to global warming.
The key idea behind the Oddar Meanchey project is that if the thirteen participating communities can stop the deforestation in the 64,000 hectares of forest that they have been given rights to manage, then they will earn money through the voluntary carbon market. Over the course of the 30-year project, these credit payments will be used not only to strengthen forest protection efforts, but also to boost the local living standards of 10,000 participating households.
One of the most challenging aspects of the REDD project development is the design and activation of the project monitoring system. In order to comply with international standards, it is necessary to provide comprehensive data to prove that the project actions have resulted in reduced deforestation. In general, communities conduct patrols several times a week to monitor and prevent illegal logging, hunting, and encroachment. In order to streamline the process of data collection, Pact decided to trial FrontlineSMS’ data collection tool, FrontlineForms, with several community leaders to see if the system could be used to efficiently collect field data during forest patrols.
Pact’s first step was to design a simple Khmer language form that could be sent to community leaders to complete during patrols. We purchased several mobile phone handsets compatible with the system and Khmer language requirement (we used the Nokia 5130). Next, Pact’s team trained local leaders how to complete and submit a form. All of the community leaders had never used SMS (text messaging) before, so it took some time for them to get used to the idea of communicating this way, even though the text was in Khmer. However, as the trial progressed they were able to use FrontlineForms to send in information related to their forest patrols; including date, time and length of the patrol, number of patrollers, GPS waypoint for the starting point, fuel used, and presence or absence of illegal activity, wildlife sightings, and fire.
Overall, the trial was a success because it greatly reduced the time and effort to collect field data. Community leaders logged a total of 28 patrols. They said that they were happy to use the system, and appreciated the automatic response confirming receipt of their data. They also provided useful tips for further improvement of the system. For instance, they said that the Form needed to be adjusted to accommodate data for overnight patrols. They also learned that if patrolling in remote locations without telephone reception, they needed to wait until returning to the village before sending their Forms.
As a result of using FrontlineSMS, Pact was able to collect valuable data on the forest patrols which normally might take many days to compile. There is no longer a need for collecting and translating handwritten paper forms from all corners of the province. There are still some challenges - such as certifying data accuracy and avoiding double submission of the same Form - but as community leaders gain experience with the system, the submissions are likely to improve. Pact is now expanding our use of FrontlineForms to cover all of the communities in the project area. Pact will also gradually expand the number of Forms and variables handled by the system as communities become more familiar and comfortable with using FrontlineForms. Eventually, Pact aims to install an automatic alert for urgent issues such as illegal logging or fire to speed up response time from local authorities.
Use of FrontlineForms has the potential to save significant time and effort in data collection for REDD project implementation and reporting. And the more resources that are saved this way, the more credit payments available to support forest protection activities and community livelihoods.
For more information on Pact’s Community Forestry Partnership Program in Cambodia visit: http://www.pactcambodia.org/Programs/Program_CFP.htm.
You can also check out this in-depth report from Pact about their use of FrontlineSMS, and the lessons they've learned so far.
If you would like to connect with Amanda and others using FrontlineSMS in Cambodia then you can go along to a user meet-up in Phnom Penh due on 23rd April. For more information on this visit our community forum. There is a Meet-Ups and Regional Networks group on our forum to help enable FrontlineSMS users to connect with each other, and share lessons learned. So if you're a FrontlineSMS user why not join our forum and start sharing today!
ReliefWeb have recently reported on FrontlineSMS being used to help to contain the spread of malaria in Cambodia. This story has also received coverage from IRIN, the news service of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The FrontlineSMS blog featured a guest post about this use of our software, too, which you can read here. Below is an extract from the ReliefWeb coverage:
"TA REACH, 6 September 2011 - Cambodian efforts to contain the spread of malaria have been strengthened by a pilot project using text messaging and web-based technology.
"My work is definitely easier," said Sophana Pich, 41, one of 184 village malaria workers (VMWs) now trained in three provinces (Kampot, Siem Reap and Kampong Cham) since the project launch earlier this year.
She typically diagnoses five to six cases of the often deadly virus each month during the rainy season between May and October.
"Before, it would take a month before this information was reported to the district health level. Now it's instantaneous," the mother-of-three said from her home in Ta Reach, a village of 200 households in Kampot Province, about 150km southwest of Phnom Penh.
There are close to 3,000 VMSs in 1,500 villages across Cambodia, described by many as the "foot soldiers" in the country's fight against malaria.
As part of a larger US$22.5 million malaria containment effort launched by the government in 2009 and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the volunteers receive three days of training in the early diagnosis of malaria and treatment.
In addition, they are given a bicycle, a pair of boots, a bag, a flashlight and a cooler box for medicines, as well as a small travel allowance.
Under the pilot scheme now under way, they are also given mobile phones.
Using FrontlineSMS - an open-source software enabling users to send and receive text messages with groups of people - VMSs can now report in real time all malaria cases in their villages to the Malaria Information and Alert System in Phnom Penh with a simple text message, including the patient's name, age, location and type of virus."
To read the full article visit ReliefWeb.
Brad, Angelina team up with FrontlineSMS project in Cambodia:
UNIVERSITY OF CANBERRA PRESS RELEASE
Researchers from the University of Canberra are working with the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation (MJP), an organisation founded by philanthropists Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, to trial a cost effective text-messaging system. The project with the University of New England is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research to help improve the lives of some of the poorest people in Cambodia.
The mobile phone system can be used to alert villagers about disease outbreaks, like tuberculosis and other important health and agricultural information, like pest problems in Samlaut, a remote and rural outpost in northwest Cambodia where MJP is implementing large scale integrated development interventions.
Although reports are showing that the percentage of Cambodia's population falling ill with TB declined in 2007, Stephan Bognar, Executive Director of MJP said that Cambodia had approximately 495 new cases per every 100,000. Only Zimbabwe and South Africa had higher rates. "We need, therefore, to find effective tools to quickly disseminate information to isolated and rural communities."
The University’s Dr Robert Fitzgerald says the researchers chose SMS text messaging as the information tool of choice because Cambodia has 85 per cent mobile phone coverage and texting can cost as little as 3 US cents.
The seed for the simple, but successful technology came from a project to help Cambodian farmers get better prices for their crops.
"We wanted to help farmers access the price of maize or soybeans on demand, so they were in a stronger position to negotiate the sale of their crop," Dr Fitzgerald said. "Many of these farmers have to borrow money to plant their crop, in most cases paying 4 per cent interest per month."
"Some traders and farmers knew some price information but that was not always shared, so the only way the farmer could find out about the price was to travel to town or ask nearby friends. So now farmers can text the agricultural information server and straight away find out about the prices."
The FrontlineSMS system runs on any PC, with a GSM modem and a pre-paid SIM card. The software is free and open source, and was developed by UK-based expert Ken Banks who designed the software back in 2005 specifically for Non-Government Organisations working primarily in Africa.
Dr Fitzgerald is working on a new project with his colleagues to expand the farmer SMS network to include more production and marketing information.
In this, the tenth in our series of FrontlineSMS guest posts, Dr. Robert Fitzgerald - Associate Dean of Research at the University of Canberra in Australia - explains their use of the software to provide agricultural data to farmers in Cambodia, and their plans to expand the service over the coming months
"For the last three years I have been working with my colleague, John Spriggs, on agricultural development projects in Cambodia. John is an agricultural economist who has over the last few years been applying participatory action research methods to improving agricultural marketing systems in developing countries (Cambodia and Papua New Guinea). My background is in technology and education with an interest in the application of robust technologies to help users communicate and work together.
Originally, John invited me to join him on his project to explore ways we could use communications technologies to the improve the marketing system for maize and soy bean farmers in western Cambodia. From our early workshops in Battambang, Cambodia, we identified poor communications as one of the key constraints to improving the marketing system. At that time I had been developing an interest in mobile communications, particularly the application of SMS, and was following closely the work of the Pinoy Internet Farmers project.
Following an initial workshop we presented a proposal to the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) for a year’s extension to John’s project to develop the Electronic Marketing Communication System (EMCS). During that project we used a propriety system, Infotxt (developed in the Philippines) to run an SMS server from the Price Division of the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) in Phnom Penh. A price officer collected price data each week and used this to update the server.
The trial was very successful and the information on demand system allowed a user to text specific keywords and that would return price information. We conducted a number of training sessions in 2007 and later that year the Cambodian People’s Party endorsed the EMCS as a significant agricultural innovation in Cambodia.
During 2007 we worked closely with Pieter Ypma from CAMIS and for a number of months they used our EMCS system to SMS-enable their web-based price database. In early 2008 our project concluded and we handed the server across to the MOC.
A new project begins
In April 2008 we started a new project which focused on production and marketing problems faced by poor smallholder farmers in northwestern Cambodia. While still a comparatively fertile area, over the last ten years crop yields have been declining and soils are being degraded by excessive cultivation and burning. Much of the crop development has been largely driven by market demand in Thailand, however local farmers are disadvantaged by lack of market information, and inadequate post-harvest technology and transport infrastructure.
The overarching aim of the project is to improve the functioning of the production–marketing system for maize and soybean in north-western Cambodia as a key to increasing cash income, sustainable growth and poverty reduction for smallholder farmers. We have established eight village clusters, four in the district of Samlaut (a protected area containing the last remnants of tropical rainforest in Cambodia) and four in the municipality of Pailin (a previously heavily forested area known for its gem mining).
Farmer workshops have been investigating key socio-economic issues related to adoption of the improved crop technologies and improving land use. Village level workshops have worked on gross margin and partial budgets to examine return on investments for various production technologies and discussed access to marketing information.
Building on the previous project we wanted to extend our SMS work to both the production and marketing system. After a number of months of evaluation we selected FrontlineSMS as the platform for our SMS work (previously covered on kiwanja's blog here).
In February 2009 we set up two FrontlineSMS servers. The first was with the newly formed Northwest Agricultural Marketing Association (NAMA) in Pailin which had particular focus on the provision of information (rated top priority by members) and the exchange and sharing of silo association price and market information. A second server was installed with the Maddox Jolie Pitt Foundation (MJP) in Battambang with particular emphasis on basic market information and health alerts. Check out the Pitt-Jolie press release here.
In June 2009 we further refined the systems and NAMA is focusing on using FrontlineSMS to broadcast messages to members, to provide maize, soy bean and cassava price information, and to distribute seed and fertiliser (input) costs.
MJP has developed three main knowledge areas/teams for its FrontlineSMS server:
- Health – Health alerts and health-related information, and health communications (e.g. clinic reminders for pregnant women)
- Farmer – Price information, buyer contacts, weather information and farmer communications (e.g. meeting reminders)
- MJP Head Office Field Communication System – A field communication system to provide field worker contact and updates, emergency/disaster protocols via SMS, meeting reminders, etc.
Future SMS applications
While our SMS servers are still in the early days of use we are exploring other SMS-based information systems such as GeoChat from InSTEDD and mhits– an innovative SMS-based micro-payment system developed in Australia by Harold Dimpel.
Volunteer and Intern opportunities
In recent conversations with both MJP and InSTEDD we have been exploring the possibility of establishing intern programs to encourage volunteers work with us. Some good work is already underway by volunteers. Oum Vatharith from Phnom Penh is already working on a Khmer translation of FrontlineSMS and I have talked to him recently about the development of FrontlineSMS user manual in Khmer.
We will be looking for volunteers in the form of software developers and IT savvy community/education development folk who are interested in working with these leading NGOs to help ensure that we realise the potential of technology to make a difference to peoples lives. If you are interested in helping out, please leave a comment!
Rob Fitzgerald Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Education University of Canberra www.mathetic.info
At the University of Canberra, Senior Research Fellow Dr Robert Fitzgerald has been evaluating FrontlineSMS as a replacement for a commercial application previously implemented in their Cambodia Crop Production and Marketing Project (CCPMP). Since 2006, Robert and his team have been developing an SMS-based market information service for maize and soybean farmers and traders in western Cambodia.
CCPMP research had already highlighted poor communications between the different levels of the supply chain as a major challenge to the agriculture sector in the region. According to Robert, "We explored various options for the development of an improved marketing communication system and proposed to local stakeholders the development of an Electronic Marketing Communication System (EMCS) based on the use of SMS technology. We undertook a pilot project in which daily grain market information was collected by the Ministry of Commerce and entered into a database that was accessible by mobile phone in Cambodia using SMS".
The pilot project proved highly successful and its impact stimulated further work in a follow-up project funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). It was at this point that Robert and his team began to explore alternative messaging systems.
"One of the most encouraging aspects of our early work was the excitement generated amongst farmers, traders, ministry officials, silo owners and potential development partners. The SMS concept was very appealing but we faced a real challenge - we wanted to use this excitement to move from a trial project to a fully fledged operating model but we needed a software application that would ensure the long term sustainability of community-based communication systems. Because the project is working with two NGOs based in western Cambodia, it was imperative that we implemented a cost-effective solution that could be managed by local staff. As it turned out, FrontlineSMS had it all. Not only is it open source but it is simple to install and maintain, and has more functionality than our previous software, all combined with a much better user-friendly interface".
Since launch of the latest version earlier this June, Dr. Fitzgerald has been testing FrontlineSMS at the University of Canberra along with a Cambodian Phd student, Nou Keosothea, who will be working with him to conduct in-country trials over the next few weeks.
Our plan is to install two FrontlineSMS systems in the Pailin and Samlaut regions of western Cambodia. Once these are installed we will conduct a series of stakeholder workshops to better understand the communication aspects of the maize and soybean production and marketing supply chain. Price, weather updates, handy hints will all figure on these systems in addition to standard SMS-based communications
Watch this space for further updates as the project moves forward, and details of a number of other agriculture-based FrontlineSMS implementations being planned by NGOs around the world.