FrontlineSMS relaunched in London on Monday, with a new service aimed to increase access to information in some of the remotest parts of the world.
FrontlineSMS has created a text messaging system which aims to use the basic tools already available to most NGOs — computers and mobile phones — to overcome communication barriers in developing countries.
The launch in London follows events in Nairobi and Washington D.C.
FrontlineSMS aims to capitalise on the 6 billion active mobile phone connections across the world, an increasing number of which are in emerging markets. Since its inception FrontlineSMS has been downloaded over 25,000 times, and helps organisations in over 80 countries to overcome their communications challenges. Over the last two years, the software has been redesigned to be more intuitive, simpler to extend and run over networks, and make it easier to manage larger volumes of messages.
Speaking at the event in London, ActionAid‘s Airlie Taylor spoke about their deployment of FrontlineSMS in rural Isiolo, Kenya to help farmers survive drought. The NGO sent out text messages containing information from the Kenyan agricultural department aimed at supporting the needs of isolated communities. Farmers then sent information back to relay news about conditions on the ground to the government.
The launch events in London, Nairobi and Washington were attended by guests from both the public and private sectors, representing the United Nations, the U.S. State Department, NetHope, USAID, and the World Bank.
One of FrontlineSMS’s long time users, UNOCHA’s (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) Sanjay Rane speaking at the Nairobi launch, said; “UNOCHA has integrated FrontlineSMS to share alerts and key information during emergencies. It is really valuable for us to be able to share information quickly in low-infrastructure environments.”
At the Nairobi launch AMREF’s Peter Otieno said that he uses FrontlineSMS to support a nursing school in Kenya. “We provide our students with enhanced communication via SMS, and FrontlineSMS software supports our communications to students.” FIT Resources’ James Kimoro said his organisation uses the service to “work with radio stations to build their capacity to deliver business development information for their listeners, who are mostly farmers.”
The free-to-download platform is being used in over 80 countries. To find out more visit: www.frontlinesms.com