Speak a language and want to support FrontlineSMS? We need version 2 translated into French, Spanish, Mandarin, Russian and Arabic and every other language you can think of...

We’ve had phenomenal support from our users since launching the new version of our free, open-source software in June 2012. Supportive articles, warm words on Twitter and Facebook, and thousands of downloads already all speak for the tremendous community of users and supporters we’ve built up over the last few years.

We launched FrontlineSMS Version 2 in English and Swahili – now we need to ensure that users all over the world can use the software.

We need to translate the terms and messages used in Version 2 into five priority languages: French, Spanish, Mandarin, Russian and Arabic – but we’re looking for speakers of all languages to contribute translations in their native tongue. Translators will join our team of FrontlineSMS:Heroes – volunteer coders, testers, analysts and designers who contribute their time to the project for free, and as a thank you are featured on our website and get to sport these very fetching tshirts.

If you think you can help, please contact us at info@frontlinesms.com. We can’t wait to hear from you! o/

Seeing the social impact of mobile technology: Experiences of a FrontlineSMS volunteer

FrontlineSMS relies on the support of our growing band of dedicated volunteers and interns, who provide heroic amounts of support to help us keep things running successfully. We have a page on our website dedicated to these 'FrontlineSMS Heroes' in order to acknowledge all the great work they do.

There are many different ways to become a FrontlineSMS Hero; volunteers help out with tasks such as user support on our community forum, researching how our software is used, or helping edit our website. We also regularly take on interns who dedicate a few days a week to help out a with specific projects. You can find out more about the current internship roles we have available on our Jobs and Internships page. In this blog post one of our regular volunteers, Molly Redding, shares her experiences of what its like to help out at FrontlineSMS:

I can’t believe I’ve been volunteering with FrontlineSMS for more than a year now! What a great year its been. My volunteer journey started when Laura Walker Hudson, FrontlineSMS Director of Operations, came to speak at my NGO Management course at the London School of Economics. At that time, I'd become interested in the use of mobile technology to support social development projects, so I was thrilled when Laura started talking about FrontlineSMS. I practically bowled her over after class to ask if they needed volunteers, and she kindly took my contact details.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I was on board at FrontlineSMS helping Florence analyze data received from a user survey. Since then I've been involved in a variety of projects, all of which have helped me to learn more about FrontlineSMS's work and the world of ICT4D (information and communications technologies for development).

There are many reasons I love volunteering for FrontlineSMS. First off, is being able to find out about the impact the software is making around the world. FrontlineSMS has found an incredible way to help non-profit organizations make use of affordable mobile technology. I was lucky enough to help FrontlineSMS keep track of the projects using their software, through supporting work on their user survey and their increasingly active user map. This helped me begin to understand the vastly varied uses for this platform. I learned that from agriculture to maternal health, and from California, to Kenya, to the Ukraine; FrontlineSMS is everywhere!

Another reason I love volunteering for FrontlneSMS is the people. I really love being part of a small team. They were incredibly welcoming from the first day I started to volunteer. Florence was my main contact, and I also got to spend time with Laura, Amy, Alex, Hussain and Ken, who have all been so helpful. They even got me cupcakes for my birthday!

The work I've done at FrontlineSMS has helped me feel like I am truly making an impact. I knew that analyzing the survey would help the team better understand the needs of those using FrontlineSMS. I knew that improving the user map would help to visually demonstrate all of the wonderful FrontlineSMS use cases being launched around the world. And in addition, along the way I even picked up some new skills, such as using HTML.

Volunteering with FrontlineSMS has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me. So much so that I’m still volunteering with them, even after moving from London to the US. Furthermore, volunteering with FrontlineSMS has sparked a passion for ICT4D, which I’m now pursuing as a possible career path. Even if I am not volunteering, I know I will always be involved in this great organization, watching to see what incredible things they will do next!

Find out more about our Jobs, Internships and Volunteer Opportunities.

A positive message for diverse communities

Re-posted via the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)

Who would have thought text messaging could be used to strengthen social change projects the world over? There are now six billion mobile phone connections globally, and many more people own a mobile handset than don’t. In large part due to this mass availability, mobiles are now being used to strengthen many non-profit initiatives.

FrontlineSMS is a social enterprise which enables projects to use the power of text messaging to their advantage, by providing free and open source software that gives the ability to turn a laptop and a mobile phone in to a mass messaging communications hub. Here in the UK, FrontlineSMS is being used by a nationally award-winning voluntary organisation called FolesHillfields Vision Project to strengthen their work building strong bridges between diverse communities in the city of Coventry.

The area that  FolesHillfields  works in is both “blessed by diversity, and struggling with disadvantage” (http://foleshillfields.org). This combination of factors can lead to tensions, which if not addressed can cause serious problems. When there is high competition for work in deprived areas people can often feel the need to blame those they perceive as separate to themselves; those who are living in the same area and sharing the same resources, but may be from a different country or religious background.

Diversity can clearly enrich societies, yet it can also be a source of tensions and animosity between people from different ethnic backgrounds, faiths, and areas of the world. Thus FolesHillfields works to counteract this kind of tension in Foleshill and Hillfields, two central Coventry neighbourhoods. The Project facilitates community events and activities which promote social inclusion by bringing different groups together to interact, listen to each other and develop an understanding of their differences and commonalities.

Often the Project will hold structured discussions in which people talk directly about their views on relevant topics, such as racism. Those present will be asked to actively listen to what each other are saying and give everyone a chance to speak, thus ensuring all views are heard. Some discussions focus on how local tensions relate to international issues, thus addressing the global context of any potential community tensions. In addition to these structured discussions the Project hosts lots of informal meet up opportunities for people to have lunch, do some gardening, and share tea together. These activities help to encourage a shared sense of social acceptance and understanding.

One major commonality amongst the diverse population in Coventry is that most people own a mobile phone. Therefore FolesHillfields Vision's organisers make use of FrontlineSMS to send out mass text messages to reach out and bring people together.

The free and open source software allows a single message to be sent to the hundreds of people the project is working with at the click of a button. The messages could be to remind people of key events, to inspire people to stay involved, or to send best wishes for many different types of holidays local people celebrate. For example, on the 21st March a text was sent to say ‘Happy Newroz’; the Iranian New Year. In addition FrontlineSMS allows the Project to split their contacts out in to different groups and text all of the women in the group, for example, with a reminder of International Women’s day celebration, or all of the volunteers with a reminder about the details of a particular event. “FrontlineSMS helps to strengthen the sense of community we are creating, and keep people involved and connected with what we are doing” says Mark Hinton, one of the Project’s founders.

FrontlineSMS software has been downloaded nearly 14,000 times and is being used in over 70 countries for many different purposes including provision health information, mobilizing human rights campaigns, and even monitoring elections. It is great to see effective use of the software here in the United Kingdom, to help support the important work of the FolesHillfieldsVision Project.

To find out more about FolesHillField Vision Project go to http://foleshillfields.org/.