Tag Archives: Frontline SMS

Frontline SMS

Frontline SMS is a free open source software that can work without an internet connection. Frontline SMS only requires a computer and cell phone. By using the cell phone and local phone number as a modem, the Frontline SMS software allows SMS messages to be managed without Internet.

This software was originally created by Ken Banks in 2005 in South Africa to help conservationists keep in touch with communities within Kruger National Park. The software became available online in 2007 and was released as open source in 2008. In 2009, the Frontline SMS founder hired the first employee of a team that has since grown to 15 members. During the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, Frontline SMS worked with Ushahidi, CrowdFlower and Samasource to create Mission 4636 that we discussed in class on Wednesday. Frontline SMS has assisted in other disaster situations since then, including the Pakistan floods in 2011.

Frontline SMS has been useful for more than just disaster humanitarian response. Frontline SMS has been used in the medical community to track outbreaks of diseases, saving hospitals thousands of dollars. The coolest new improvement to Frontline SMS is Medic Mobile, a new aspect of Frontline SMS. They are developing technology that will include a $15 cell phone addition that will allow people (like hospitals in rural areas) to put a blood sample into the back of the phone under an LED light and take a holographic image that can be sent via MMS. A diagnosis would be sent back within 10 seconds and would be able to diagnose malaria, some STDs and potentially HIV. This technology will be invaluable once finalized.






Frontline SMS

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:

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