Fishing meets texting in Banda Aceh

We continue our recent agriculture theme in this, the eighteenth in our series of FrontlineSMS guest posts. Here, Teddy Syahputra Рa System Consultant at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Banda Aceh Рtalks about their use of the software, and how it is set to underpin a new nationwide SMS service in the country

“The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations in Banda Aceh (Indonesia) have been using FrontlineSMS for over two years, and recently it was deployed in a pilot project concentrated on the needs of local fishermen. Following the success of this early pilot, we are now implementing a nationwide project called Fish Marketing Information System (FMIS) to support the development of conducive and fair trade practices for economically competitive fish products from Aceh in the local, national, regional and international markets.

Image courtesy FMIS

The price information is processed by a computer-based system (primarily a website and MySQL database) using FrontlineSMS as the SMS gateway. Fish price information is being disseminated to fisherfolk, fish farmers, traders, processors and government agencies through a combination of SMS, local radio, the project website and local newspapers.

For the data collection we developed our own software – called “Enumerator” – and we provide each of the collectors with a handset with the software pre-installed. The software is easy to use, allowing the operator to insert the species name and the prices in pre-defined fields. “Enumerator” then binds the data into an SMS, which is then sent to FrontlineSMS for processing and passing into the database. Integration and implementation was easy thanks to FrontlineSMS’ powerful ‘keyword’ functionality.

FMIS and FrontlineSMSThe next phase of the project is to implement FrontlineSMS/FMIS throughout other provinces in Indonesia, but this time the Indonesian Government will be handling the SMS gateway in each province, and the local website.

This project has already helped hundreds of people in Indonesia, with many more to follow. FrontlineSMS has been invaluable in helping us achieve this. Not only is the software free, but it is incredibly easy to use – we downloaded it and had it working ourselves in no time. This ease-of-use is also essential if other districts are to be easily able to replicate what we have done here”.

Teddy Syahputra
National Information System Consultant
Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations
Banda Aceh, NAD – Indonesia
www.fao.org