FrontlineSMS 2011 Curry Stone Design Prize Winners

FrontlineSMS is excited to announce that we have been awarded the Curry Stone Design Prize, a prestigious award which recognizes the valuable contributions of social design pioneers across the world. The award "was created in the belief that designers can be an instrumental force for improving people’s lives and the state of the world". The FrontlineSMS team is honoured to be recognised as one of the prize winners. According to Ken Banks, FrontlineSMS Founder:

We're honoured, surprised and excited to win this Prize, particularly when you consider most Curry Stone winners over the years have concentrated on physical design. This Prize, combined with our recent Buckminster Fuller Challenge "honourable mention" and last year's National Geographic "Explorer" award, see us taking FrontlineSMS - and the mobile-for-development sector in general - into new territory.

There's a growing realisation that socially-focused mobile tools can be part of the socially responsible design world, particularly if they are user-focused, and built around appropriate technologies which allow communities to build and design their own solutions to their own problems. This is an approach we have been championing for years, and it is wonderful to receive such recognition.

Warm congratulations to Hsieh Ying-Chun, the Grand Prize Winner, as well as Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée (AAA), also winners of the prize along with FrontlineSMS - we are honored to be recognized alongside them.

For further details about the Prize, and the other winners please see below press release, published today on the Curry Stone website:

The 2011 Curry Stone Design Prize Winners were announced today with an official presentation ceremony to follow on November 7th at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Hsieh Ying-Chun is the Grand Prize Winner; he will receive $100,000 from the foundation with no strings attached. Hsieh is a leading Taiwanese architect who for over a decade has deployed his talents in rural areas decimated by natural disaster. Hsieh works throughout Asia, training villagers to build locally appropriate dwellings in response to devastation such as the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, the 1999 Nantou earthquake, and the 2009 Morakot typhoon in Taiwan. Through Hsieh’s hands-on education process, villagers reconstruct their own community foundation, knowing they will live in buildings with greater safety, structural integrity, and sustainability.

Two additional 2011 Winner Prizes, of $10,000 each, will be awarded to Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée (AAA) and FrontlineSMS.

Atelier d'Architecture Autogérée is a collective of architects, designers and social scientists who transform urban spaces through collaborative endeavors. Based in Paris and founded by Romanian architects Constatin Petcou and Doina Petrescu in 2001, AAA has become an engine for engaging citizens in shaping their own cities through building, farming, and artistic intervention. AAA acts as a creative instigator, empowering local communities to carry out and sustain their own ideas for urban regeneration.

FrontlineSMS was founded in London by Ken Banks in 2005 to enable effective communications channels for communities in the developing world. FrontlineSMS leverages the ubiquity of mobile phones and familiarity of text messaging to turn an offline laptop into a communication hub. The simple innovation empowers villagers, aid agencies, and news services to exchange information easily among groups.

The Curry Stone Design Prize was created to champion designers as a force for social change. Now in its fourth year, the Prize recognizes innovators who address critical issues involving clean air, food and water, shelter, health care, energy, education, social justice or peace. Nominees for the Curry Stone Design Prize are selected by an anonymous, rotating group of leaders representing broad fields of design, as well as humanitarian advocates from related disciplines. A jury reviews the nominations to choose one Grand Prize Winner and two Prize Winners. Emphasis is placed on emerging projects and ideas that may not have yet been taken to scale. The Curry Stone Design Prize was founded by Clifford Curry, an architect and recognized pioneer in senior housing, and Delight Stone, a historic archaeologist and social justice activist. Dr. Louisa Silva and Gary Feuerstein serve as board members.

Grand Prize Winner, Hsieh Ying-Chun establishes a cooperative network of designers, contractors, and residents that supports local needs. His simple designs ensure that every villager can have a hand in building their own home. His work has generated job opportunities and environmental awareness, while protecting local diversities and cultural traditions. After completion, he makes the design plans available in creative commons. Hsieh’s work has helped thousands of people.

Prize Winners:

Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée (AAA), Paris, France Collective Urban Architecture

FrontlineSMS, London, England Community Solutions Through Mobile Technology

CURRY STONE DESIGN PRIZE FESTIVAL, Harvard Graduate School of Design

Prize Ceremony & Presentation: Monday, November 7th, 2011 6:30-8:00pm Harvard GSD, 48 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA RSVP

Three Workshops at the GSD: Tuesday, November 8th, 2011 12pm-2:00pm, CSDP Prize winners Hsieh Ying-Chun, Constantin Petcou and Doina Petrescu, and Ken Banks will each lead a workshop.

The Curry Stone Design Prize Festival is presented in partnership with the Loeb Fellowship and the Department of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design. For more information on the Curry Stone Design Prize, Events and Winners, see: or Twitter @currystoneprize.

Emerging Explorer project makes Buckminster Fuller finalists

FrontlineSMS has been selected as one of only four Finalists in the Buckminster Fuller Challenge, the prestigious annual design science competition. Named “Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award” by Metropolis Magazine, the Challenge awards $100,000 to support the development and implementation of a whole systems-based solution that has significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems.

By Sarah George, Florence Scialom and Nsonje Siame

FrontlineSMS has been recognized for bringing the communication revolution to poor and remote regions, through harnessing the power and reach of mobile phones. The software works without the Internet, is easy to implement, simple to operate, and free to download.

Results from a FrontlineSMS user survey, held at the end of 2010, help to illustrate efforts to design software to work for “100% of humanity.” In the survey 84% of users said they found our software easy to use.* Results also demonstrated that FrontlineSMS is being used in over 70 countries, and is particularly useful in areas of the world where other forms of communication can be difficult to access. One FrontlineSMS user said:

I was using FrontlineSMS to communicate with administrators, principals, and teachers in 50 secondary schools. In the area I was working landlines and faxes were largely unheard of, postal services unreliable, and even road access was poor. FrontlineSMS allowed me to coordinate communication between these schools to organize various school events and programs

At its core, FrontlineSMS software turns a laptop or desktop computer and a mobile phone or modem into a mass messaging platform, empowering users to gather and share information of any kind, in any place. The software forms part of a strategy that grassroots organizations around the world can adopt to leverage mobile technology for the greater good. FrontlineSMS focuses on reaching the “last mile” by designing the platform to take advantage of basic mobile phones already in the hands of billions of people throughout the developing world.

While the core platform is use-agnostic, the FrontlineSMS team is committed to incubating sector specific solutions. For example, sister projects work with FrontlineSMS to confront challenges in access to healthcare, education, financial credit, legal representation, and media. There are clearly many other sectors in which FrontlineSMS can be utilized, too. In the recent user survey examples emerged from over 15 sectors, including conservation, human rights, and agriculture, amongst others.

For FrontlineSMS, winning the $100,000 Buckminster Fuller prize would provide critical support for developing Version 2 of the software; an upgrade that will improve and extend core functionalities, making the software even more user friendly and interactive. Version 2 will help users of FrontlineSMS do more with the software than ever before.

Finalists were chosen by BFI’s multi-disciplinary review team, made up of 11 distinguished jurors. These include Valerie Casey, founder of Design Accord; David Orr, writer and professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College; Andrew Zolli, producer of PopTech and Danielle Nierenberg, Project Director of State of World 2011; and Sim Vanderyn, visionary ecological design pioneer.

On Wednesday, June 8th FrontlineSMS will be presented to jury members and an audience in New York City. On Friday, June 10th the Winner will be revealed at a conferring ceremony. Both events will take place at The Graduate Center, CUNY. More information about the event is available here.

About the Buckminster Fuller Challenge

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge is the premier international competition recognizing initiatives which take a comprehensive, anticipatory, design approach to radically advance human well being and the health of our planet’s ecosystems. The 2011 Semi-finalists are providing workable solutions to some of the world’s most significant challenges including water scarcity, food supply, health, energy consumption and shelter. The Challenge is a program of The Buckminster Fuller Institute which aims to deeply influence the ascendance of a new generation of design-science pioneers who are leading the creation of an abundant and restorative world economy that benefits all humanity. For more information on the 2011 Finalists visit the Challenge website. You can visit the FrontlineSMS page here.

* The FrontlineSMS user survey received responses from 174 people