Kiwanja.net's new version of FrontlineSMS takes their proven mobile-based software into new and exciting territory. A number of FrontlineSMS-based initiatives are beginning to take shape, and the potential of the software to effect positive social change is becoming more clear. For example, in a current health project in Malawi, a single FrontlineSMS installation has been proven to improve healthcare delivery for over 250,000 people living in a 100-square-mile catchment area. In Afghanistan, it is being used to keep NGO fieldworkers safe in one of the world's most conflict-ridden regions, and in Uganda it is opening up an entirely new communications channel for Grameen's Village Phone Program. With over 600 downloads and increasing levels of activity and interest, FrontlineSMS remains a unique and empowering tool. People understand it, people are genuinely excited by it, and people want to talk about it.
Kiwanja's CGI commitment was to replicate FrontlineSMS' successes. This will be achieved by identifying leading international organizations working in a number of key fields - health, economic empowerment, microfinance, agriculture, education and so on - and funding an intern or staff member - a 'FrontlineSMS Ambassador' - within each organization to promote FrontlineSMS within their own fields of expertise. This, in effect, is what is already happening with the 'FrontlineSMS in Malawi' work, where Josh Nesbit - a Stanford student running the project - has become the first FrontlineSMS Ambassador for its application in health. This commitment will allow kiwanja.net to formalize and substantially expand into a formal program with a diversity of NGO partners.
1. By the end of 2009, FrontlineSMS Ambassadors will have been recruited in the key fields of health, agriculture, poverty alleviation, education, human rights, good governance and conservation. In some cases, more than one Ambassador may be recruited for a discipline.
2. By the end of 2009, kiwanja.net will have produced and disseminated promotional and training materials for the FrontlineSMS Ambassadors.
3. By the end of 2009, and funding forthcoming, a new multimedia version of FrontlineSMS - which will allow sound, pictures and video to be shared via a central field-based communications hub - will be rolled out and made available to the FrontlineSMS Ambassadors.
4. By the end of 2010, the second year, FrontlineSMS will be in use by an additional 5,000 non-profit organizations around the world.
5. By the end of the 2-year project, the number of people benefiting from the use of FrontlineSMS by newly recruited NGOs will total up to 5 million.
With respect to diverse global partners, further plans are already in the pipeline for the software to act as the text messaging engine for the much-talked about post-election Ushahidi crisis reporting platform in Kenya. An Australian-government funded project (through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research) is looking to use it to improve agricultural value chains as a key to sustainable growth and poverty reduction in Western Cambodia. It will also shortly be implemented as the core of an emergency SOS alert system for Filipino Overseas Workers, be used as part of a rapid prototyping project looking to eradicate fake drugs in a number of African countries, and is being lined up to assist in election monitoring activities in Ghana, Guinea, Mozambique and the Ivory Coast.
Kiwanja.net's Commitment centers around expanding the FrontlineSMS footprint. A key challenge, however, is getting the software into the hands of people who need it the most. The hard development work has been done, and they now have a platform which, when it does get into the right hands, is hugely empowering. Its flexibility also means it can impact in areas other tools can only dream of. Since its launch, it has been implemented in almost every facet of international development work, from promoting good governance to monitoring elections, and helping deliver healthcare to providing agricultural data to farmers. This flexibility makes its potential for a CGI 'commitment' particularly exciting, since it has the potential to impact on education, energy and climate change, global health and poverty alleviation, all areas of focus for CGI.
With the foundations firmly laid, FrontlineSMS now needs to scale in order to meet its full social change potential. The CGI meeting represents a unique and powerful opportunity to share FrontlineSMS with high-profile actors in a high-profile environment. Kiwanja.net has a unique story to tell. CGI is where they can tell it, and the Ambassadors Programme introduces kiwanja.net's strategy for dissemination and capacity-building.
FrontlineSMS is always eager to work with new organizations, and to discuss how the technology can be used in their work, or how their financial or programmatic support might help FrontlineSMS deliver its tools more effectively to NGOs in the field.