I am big fan of Ken Banks (@Kiwanja) and what he and others have done and are doing with FrontlineSMS. Its not easy to develop and distribute PC based software. In my opinion what they have done is genius. Take a mobile handset, connect it to PC turns the handset into a smart communication platform. Friends and neighbors can call your phone number to send and receive SMS text messages. Now doctor offices, hospitals and others can schedule, remind and track health visits. More applications are being worked on all the time. If there is uptake there is an opportunity to build distributed telecommunication infrastureture that offers a number of advantages, such as, relatively low-cost, simple to deploy and use. The question becomes if/how to connect these PCs to internet. And, that is what I would like to speak with Ken about.
FrontlineSMS has done some very useful projects with Ushahidi (and here) who earned reputation with amazing response to Haiti disaster. Frontline's data generation ability dovetails nicely with Ushahidi geotagging and mapping capabilities
When I saw on Twitter that Ken was in DC I pinged him with my interest in meeting. We have traded some blog/tweet/posts in past) and he was kind enough to see if we can meet tomorrow. In lieu of meeting I thought I'd give Ken, if has time, an introduction to what I would like to discuss
Firstly and foremost would he have time to help guide Hungry Garden/Next2.Us in targeting bottom of pyramid opportunities via sms message technology/applications. It would be a huge benefit to me to gain Ken's guidance.
Secondly, I would like to discuss the development of a FrontlineSMS module that would provide 2-way connection to HG's mapping sopftware (via Hungry Garden API). I mentioned this to you earlier but the time was not right as HG's API was not done. I am now ready to undertake an API component to Hungry Garden and Ken's and his team's suggestion would be very welcome to us.
Thirdly, I would like to discuss how the Frontline/HG module could work with Ushahid. With Frontlines and HG ability to generate data and Uushahid ability to turn that raw data into maps it seems like a good fit. Therefore I want to simultaneously introduce the HG API to Frontline and Ushahid
I've been puzzling how HG gateway to the Internet could be used with local pc's that may or may not have a connection to the Internet. I don't propose to know or understand telecommunication market in Africa. I know I'll learn a lot from Ken about what is going on now and what possible solutions (WiMax, G3, G4) may or may not be adopted in the future.
If a high percentage of the Frontline installations can connect to the Internet there may be a way to allow Frontline SMS text users to exchange messages via interent with HG's customers.
I am sure Frontline and Ushahid have been exploring ways to open the data to more applications. HG has way to both geotag and classify content in simple text message that it would like to share with Frontline and Ushahid.
I hope Ken enjoys his visit and can spare me some time while he is here .