In my previous post, I argued that established, traditional newsrooms tend to be most comfortable accepting citizen reporting or user-generated content during a large-scale, widespread emergency event. In these circumstances, newsrooms often accept photo and video submissions from the public, or even seek them out on Instagram, Vine or Twitter. Professional journalists or editors may curate tweets or blog posts to summarize the experience of citizens. They may also make a public request for input from those affected, or to clarify incoming information.
Over the past four years FrontlineSMS has taught us a lot, and I write about it frequently (see my recent misconceptions and observations posts). One of the biggest - and most underestimated - challenges is outreach. If you're building a tool for grassroots NGOs, particularly those working on the margins, promoting social mobile tools to them is inherently tricky. Over the past year, and over the past few months in particular, increasing numbers of local, national and international NGOs have begun promoting FrontlineSMS themselves, to their own field offices, partners and NGO friends. This is hugely significant for us, amplifying our own efforts considerably. This short video, courtesy of United Methodist Communications (UMC), shows a handful of delegates at a recent crisis management conference talk briefly about their thoughts on the software.
They may only be a few words, but for us they speak volumes. We took on the grassroots challenge, and it's great to see others joining in to help us.
After all, it doesn't matter how good your mobile solutions are if no-one knows they exist.