SMS texting: A new opportunity for development Initiatives [INFOGRAPHIC]
- Tuesday, 08 November 2011 16:46
- Written by Louis P.
Though we think of texting as just as a means of day-to-day communication, it has been utilized in developing countries in a variety of ingenious ways to improve the lives of the people there. Surprisingly, cell phones in the developing world are both cheaper and more ubiquitous than many basic services we take for granted, such as brick-and-mortar banks and, in some countries, even electricity.
The infographic shows why some examples of how entrepreneurs and social activists alike have taken advantage of this fact in some incredible ways.
There are indeed many remarkable things you can do by taking advantage of this key information. In fact, this trend is what prompted us to use text messaging in one of our inclusion initiatives too! For us, this is the key to by-pass the digital divide, once and for all!
In Uganda, Gov2u and the National Democratic Institute worked together to launch an innovative e-Inclusion initiative consisting of establishing communications channels between constituents and elected representatives by the means of SMS texting.
U-Speak Uganda enables constituents in Uganda to communicate directly with their elected representatives by the means of SMS or by leaving a voicemail on a dedicated line, for free. Once sent, data entrants are in charge of sorting out and categorize each message according to its content, and to upload them on a tracker. The messages were then aggregated on a dedicated platform which depicted them on a map, accessible through the personal dashboard of each participating representative.
The key advantage for MPs, is that the platform is equipped with advanced analytics support - meaning that he can generate graphs and statistical reports on any information he needs to improve his constituency. MPs can choose to rank issues according to many variables such as date, the frequency of reported policy issue, or even by their location. This way, each representative is always kept in the loop.
By enabling MPs to generate reports on what are the policy priorities in his constituency, or on how perceptions of a particular issue have evolved over-time, U-speak directly aims at making the work of decision-makers more efficient and aligned with citizen priorities. It is a unique decision-support tool which gives official representatives the power to improve responsiveness and service delivery, just through simple information and communication systems.
The pilot project launched in the summer of 2010 was directed at 4 constituencies, and involved 4 Members of Parliament. Now we are seeking to apply it to the entire Assembly - hence giving all constituents in Uganda the opportunity to voice their concerns, by the simple means of a text message.
Stay tuned for more!