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TSF, FrontlineSMS and humanitarian assistance in Niger

In this – the third in our series of FrontlineSMS guest posts – Grégory Rebattu, Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF)’s Niger Representative, and Oisín Walton, Head of TSF Communications and International Relations, talk us through their thoughts on the software, and its potential for emergency relief in Niger.

“I work for Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF), the leading NGO specialising in the deployment of telecommunications in emergencies, and head-up TSF’s base here in Niger. In emergencies, telecommunication networks are often seriously damaged or destroyed. Some humanitarian crises also strike in areas with no existing communication facilities. Today, TSF plays a key role in strengthening coordination and communication by deploying telecommunications centres within 48 hours of an emergency.  These centres offer broadband Internet access, voice communications, fax lines and all the IT equipment needed for a field office.

Telecoms Sans Frontieres

Our base in Niger is more involved in longer term projects particularly in strengthening food crisis prevention systems. Niger is ranked 174th out of 177 nations on the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development list – making it one of the least developed countries on Earth. The living conditions in the Sahel desert are extremely harsh and recurrent drought leads to almost permanent food insecurity. Less than 12% of the territory is cultivable – so the widely reported current food crisis hits Niger particularly hard.

Telecommunication networks are also very much in their infancy, although GSM coverage is now on the rise and bringing infinite new opportunities for the humanitarian and development sectors. In particular, we believe that text messaging – used in conjunction with cutting-edge tools such as FrontlineSMS – are particularly powerful, enabling the collection and dissemination of data quickly and easily with very low running costs. Over the past few weeks we have been working closely with the FrontlineSMS team, putting the software through its paces and assessing its suitability in our work. We have been particularly excited by the new “FrontlineSMS Forms” data collection functionality which we helped test and which is being released next week.

Crucially from our perspective, FrontlineSMS is extremely user-friendly, allowing partner organisations on the ground to rapidly deploy a data collection and dissemination system from scratch. This simplicity is crucial for organizations which may lack technical skills, and users can be up and running in a matter of minutes with the minimum of mouse clicks. The intuitive nature of the software also means that little technical support is required once they’re up and running.

I have already presented the application to a group of NGOs and UN agencies who are very excited. These organizations – who work in a wide range of sectors including health, nutrition and agriculture – immediately saw the immense potential of FrontlineSMS and how it might enhance their capacity to save lives and develop local economy, not to mention their capacity to improve the security of their own staff.

On that note, our first FrontlineSMS initiative is about to launch, and will provide an SMS security alert forwarding service to Niger’s NGO community. This will allow aid workers to instantly warn the community about security issues in real time.

Gregory, TSF Niger

Concretely, we see other immediate applications for FrontlineSMS in Niger. These include the use of the new Forms feature for data collection for the National Health System which collects and monitors the number of cases per pathology in health structures. FrontlineSMS could also be used to collect market prices, and even to disseminate those prices to small farmers.

We are also planning to test its interoperability with satellite phones which will allow us and our partner organizations to extend its usage into areas not covered by mobile networks. We also plan to use it in our responses to sudden-onset emergencies where mobile networks are often disrupted.

Summing up, FrontlineSMS is a fabulous tool and one which presents huge opportunities to non-technical NGO users. Saying that, don’t be fooled by its simplicity – as well as standard incoming and outgoing group messaging, it has plenty of advanced and extremely powerful functionality. From our testing and evaluation, and our discussions with partner organizations, it looks like FrontlineSMS has infinite applications in the humanitarian world, and this is great news for those we are trying to help.

As we often say here, it’s now no longer a question of technology, it’s a question of imagination!”

Grégory Rebattu, Niger Representative
Oisín Walton, Head of Communications & International Relations
Télécoms Sans Frontières
www.tsfi.org

71 comments

1 Erik Hersman { 02.16.09 at 5:20 pm }

Nice write-up on Télécoms Sans Frontières using mobiles to offer humanitarian assistance in Niger: http://is.gd/jI1T

2 gutelius { 02.16.09 at 5:22 pm }

RT @whiteafrican Télécoms Sans Frontières using mobiles to offer humanitarian assistance in Niger: http://is.gd/jI1T

3 David Gutelius { 02.16.09 at 5:22 pm }

RT @whiteafrican Télécoms Sans Frontières using mobiles to offer humanitarian assistance in Niger: http://is.gd/jI1T

4 changefeed { 02.16.09 at 5:26 pm }

->@kiwanja: TSF, FrontlineSMS and humanitarian assistance in Niger http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

5 Ken Banks { 02.16.09 at 5:43 pm }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

6 kiwanja { 02.16.09 at 5:43 pm }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

7 Ayelet Baron { 02.16.09 at 5:52 pm }

FrontlineSMS and humanitarian assistance in Niger http://snipr.com/bzp9w

8 ayeletb { 02.16.09 at 5:52 pm }

FrontlineSMS and humanitarian assistance in Niger http://snipr.com/bzp9w

9 Charles Howes { 02.16.09 at 5:57 pm }

RT @kiwanja: Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

10 charleshowes { 02.16.09 at 5:57 pm }

RT @kiwanja: Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

11 Heather LaGarde { 02.16.09 at 6:11 pm }

RT @whiteafrican: Nice write-up on Télécoms Sans Frontières using mobiles to offer humanitarian assistance in Niger: http://is.gd/jI1T

12 heatherlagarde { 02.16.09 at 6:11 pm }

RT @whiteafrican: Nice write-up on Télécoms Sans Frontières using mobiles to offer humanitarian assistance in Niger: http://is.gd/jI1T

13 paconmiller { 02.16.09 at 7:55 pm }

RT @whiteafrican: Nice write-up on Télécoms Sans Frontières using mobiles to offer humanitarian assistance in Niger: http://is.gd/jI1T

14 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

15 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

16 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

17 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

18 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

19 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

20 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

21 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

22 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

23 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

24 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

25 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

26 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

27 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

28 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

29 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

30 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

31 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

32 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

33 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

34 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

35 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

36 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

37 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

38 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

39 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

40 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

41 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

42 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

43 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

44 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

45 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

46 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

47 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

48 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

49 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

50 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

51 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

52 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

53 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

54 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

55 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

56 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

57 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

58 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

59 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

60 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

61 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

62 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

63 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

64 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

65 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

66 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

67 FrontlineSMS o/ { 02.17.09 at 12:44 am }

Post on Télécoms Sans Frontières, @frontlinesms and humanitarian/emergency response in Niger. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

68 joshnesbit { 02.17.09 at 12:50 am }

Télécoms Sans Frontières – “it looks like FrontlineSMS has infinite applications in the humanitarian world” http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

69 Josh Nesbit { 02.17.09 at 12:50 am }

Télécoms Sans Frontières – “it looks like FrontlineSMS has infinite applications in the humanitarian world” http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

70 Ken Banks { 02.18.09 at 11:07 pm }

Significant rise in interest from international relief/humanitarian NGOs around FrontlineSMS after the TSF post. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

71 kiwanja { 02.18.09 at 11:07 pm }

Significant rise in interest from international relief/humanitarian NGOs around FrontlineSMS after the TSF post. http://tinyurl.com/d48gr8

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