The famine in Somalia has been the topic of many of my International Development classes as of recent. Since disaster response is the topic of our ICT class this week, I think it is appropriate to comment on a few information and communication technologies that are being used to aid relief in the destitute, famine-stricken country. Frontline SMS is one such program that uses text messages to communicate with large numbers of people at one time. This is beneficial because it “enables instantaneous two-way communication on a large scale.” In order to use the program it needs to be downloaded on a computer (works on all Windows operating systems, Macs, and Linux) where the software uses the internet and a cell phone hook up with a sim card in order to send the text to a vast audience. By sending messages through an “online aggregator” there is the potential to reach more people at a faster rate, rather than the limited number of recipients allowed by regular cell phone systems.
Technologies are useful in a disaster such as this because the infrastructure is not wiped out as it would potentially be with hurricanes and earthquakes. With cell phones remaining intact they provide a valuable tool to communicate news of humanitarian aid and local events or insurgents.
To find out more about Frontline SMS, this video explains it well:
Or visit the website: