A new SMS based tool has been released which is aimed at NGOs and researchers working in developing countries who use mobile phones to collect data. Today many NGO field workers manually collect information, entering information into a centralised database over time – for example, when returning to headquarters. With the FrontlineForms tool a single mobile phone can be used to collect structured data while off-line. Collected data can then be sent via SMS from a mobile phone in the field to a central database where it can be aggregated, analysed and shared.
Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) conducted field-tests of FrontlineForms in Niger – a country of more than thirteen million people in which remote populations live in some of the harshest deserts in the world. “Simplicity is crucial for on-the-ground organisations using data collection and dissemination systems,” said Grégory Rebattu, Niger Representative for TSF. Rebattu continued, “We see a real potential for FrontlineForms to collect important health indicators and monitor cases in remote areas.”
FrontlineForms is an enhancement to FrontlineSMS – kiwanja’s free, multi-use text messaging platform which has helped NGOs in more than forty countries use text messaging to deliver a range of humanitarian and development initiatives. Masabi – a developer of secure mobile applications – built FrontlineSMS and FrontlineForms. Students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology validated the new SMS tool’s architecture with the needs of isolated communities in mind.
“Technologies that advance social change in the developing world will continue to centre on mobile applications and rural community realities,” said Ken Banks, kiwanja.net Founder. Banks explained, “In this sense the potential for FrontlineForms will be fully realised once it gets into the hands of individuals who can and will use the tool to revolutionise ways NGO’s advance rural development initiatives.”