Tag Archives: end users

FrontlineSMS: The Impact of Open Source Tools for Development

Through Mission 4636, 80,000 earthquake victims throughout Haiti were able to solicit help via text message. What’s most astonishing about the project is not the large number of people it was able to help, but the speed at which it was set into motion. From conception to launch, the Mission 4636 came together in a mere 48 hours. People from 10 organizations from around the world dropped everything to build the best platform possible. Among these organizations was one that caught my eye, Frontline SMS:medic, whose director was responsible for obtaining the short code “4636” for the project.

Frontline SMS:medic is one of many programs that utilizes the FrontlineSMS free software program. Through FrontlineSMS, users can text large groups of people anywhere there is a mobile signal. FrontlineSMS enables instantaneous, two-way communication on a large scale by utilizing computers and mobile phones—two technologies that are available to most NGOs. This means a laptop plugged into a cell phone can become a low-cost communication hub. Frontline SMS makes use of open-source software to support development services across the globe and provides easily implemented solutions to many communication barriers in developing countries.

FrontlineSMS:medic is one of the most successful initiatives of the 5 FrontlineSMS programs (others are credit, learn, legal, and radio).  It utilizes FrontlineSMS to improve and extend healthcare delivery systems by helping health workers communicate, coordinate patient care, and provide diagnostics using appropriate cost-effective technologies. The pilot program was launched in 2009 to great results: in six months, hospital workers saved 1200 hours of follow up time and an accompanying $3000 in motorbike fuel. In less than one year, FrontlineSMS:Medic grew to 1,500 end users who were serviced by clinics seeing approximately 3.5 million other patients. Growing from the first pilot at a single hospital in Malawi, programs were subsequently established in 40% of Malawi’s district hospitals and the software was introduced in nine other countries, including Honduras, Haiti, Uganda, Mali, Kenya, South Africa, Cameroon, India and Bangladesh.

FrontlineSMS demonstrates the importance of building upon and implementing open source tools to serve end users and achieve impact in the field of development. For complete information on FrontlineSMS click here. For complete information on FrontlineSMS:Medic click here.

ICT4D Professional Profile: Daniel Duke Odongo

Daniel Duke Odongo got his start in the ICT4D field when he was an intern for Google between July and September of 2011. He was responsible for many initiatives within Uganda and had several lead roles on some projects. One of these activities was that he built the ground for relevant products to cater to local content and needs. Another project he worked on while with Google was that he engaged Uganda’s prospective users and supported the Google Uganda office in a number of tasks relevant to Google and its mission within Africa. He is a frequent user of twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ as well as several other sites which are moving Uganda towards the future of ICT4D capabilities.

After completing this internship, Odongo started working for Code Sync as a Strategic Partnerships Lead. He started working there in September 2011 and currently still holds this position. His main responsibilities are “identifying areas and priority business level interests that the team could venture and invest in mobile and web application development to satisfy user needs.” As he has been doing this for 8 months or so, he has definitely begun to gain some very valuable knowledge and experience in the field of ICT4D and technology know-how in general. Code Sync is a 5-man team of tech-savvy developers looking to revolutionize the mobile application industry in Uganda. While they may have a long way to go in order to accomplish all their lofty goals, the passion and commitment these 5 men, chiefly led by Odongo, have shown is the first and most important step towards changing the mobile phone world within Uganda.

In addition to this job at Code Sync, Odongo is also currently an intern for Google Africa and has been since January 2012. Before accomplishing all this, however, Odongo studied at Makerere University receiving a degree in Software Engineering. Makerere University is the oldest and one of the most prestigious universities in all of East Africa. Because of this experience, he is currently one of the leaders for something called Google Technology User Group (GTUG) Kampala Chapter. On the group’s website they describe themselves as “Google Technology User Groups (GTUGs) are user groups for people who  are interested in Google’s developer technology; everything from the Android and App Engine platforms, to product APIs like the YouTube API and the Google Calendar API, to initiatives like OpenSocial.” Odongo is the University Relations Lead on this particular project. Odongo brings a wealth of passion and knowledge to this team through his experience working with Google as an intern on two separate occasions. He provides strategy and developer support to a number of project teams.