Tag Archives: ivr

IVR, Facebook and WhatsApp: tech and M&E at AfrEA

Our latest Technology Salon, at the African Evaluation Association (AfrEA) Conference in Uganda on March 29th, focused on how mobile and social media platforms are being used in monitoring and evaluation processes. Our lead discussants were Jamie Arkin from Human Network International (soon to be merging with VotoMobile) who spoke about interactive voice response (IVR); John Njovu, an independent consultant working with the Ministry of National Development Planning of the Zambian government, who shared experiences with technology tools for citizen feedback to monitor budgets and support transparency and accountability; and Noel Verrinder from Genesis who talked about using WhatsApp in a youth financial education program. Using IVR for surveys Jamie shared how HNI deploys IVR surveys to obtain information about different initiatives or interventions from a wide public or to understand the public’s beliefs about a particular topic. These surveys come in three formats: random dialing of telephone numbers until someone picks up; asking people to call in, for example, on a radio show; or using an existing list of phone numbers. “If there is an 80% phone penetration or higher, it is equal to a normal household level survey,” she said

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Remote Data Collection Comes of Age

Over the last twenty years, an important change has occurred in the options for mobile electronic data collection: remote data collection (no field trip needed!). This post will introduce the concepts of mobile data collection, and the implications. Initially, when devices were scarce and expensive, the only option was to have highly-trained data collectors carry mobile devices to the field – much as they had previously carried paper forms on clipboards. In some cases, this approach – let’s call it the “go-to-field” approach – still makes sense.  You may need a data collector with specialized understanding and training to go to the field to make an evaluation of some kind that simply can’t be done by those already in the area.   An example might be sending a nutrition expert to the field to evaluate children at a school.  Or the data may need to be collected by someone specially authorized, like a building safety inspector. As mobile devices have gotten less and less expensive – and, let’s not forget, as millions worldwide have climbed out of poverty – it’s become quite common that we see a mobile phone in every person’s hand, or at least in every family, and this means that we can utilize an additional approach that was simply not possible before: remote data collection.

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The Blind Spot of SMS Projects: Constituent Illiteracy

With the overwhelming optimism around mobile phone-based communication technologies, it is reasonable to ponder: Do literacy levels pose a serious limitation to SMS-based communication campaigns? Imagine the following scenario It is a busy Monday morning. You’re rushing to get breakfast on the table, to pack lunches for your kids, and to get everyone — including yourself — out the door. Your phone pings: You skim the SMS, and think to yourself… I don’t know why I’m getting a message in Spanish, I only read and speak English… Perhaps this afternoon I can ask my Spanish-speaking neighbor what this means?

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Getting More Data for Less Money

Remote Data Collection Comes of Age More data for less money.  That sounds like an unrealistic expectation – but in a recent blog post, we noted that the unprecedented rollout of mobile phones to even the poorest of populations worldwide has dramatically increased the amount of data that can be acquired while simultaneously decreasing data acquisition costs. Yes: we can get more and better data by spending less.  Much less. This is possible because in a pre-mobile-computing world the only way to get information from most developing-country populations was to physically go to them, or have them come to you

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Yes, Farmers Do Use Mobile Phones for Market Prices

Farmers in Malawi had free access to market prices via mobile phones for about three months using HNI’s 3‑2‑1 Service. Usage data was rolling in. And along come two posts on ICT Works that are highly critical of the whole idea that farmers and fishermen can actually benefit from market prices provided by mobile phones. A superficial skim of these posts might lead you to conclude that “Mobile phones are not used for market prices,” or that, “Mobile phones are social tools not information delivery platforms.” But a closer read reveals something more nuanced than that. Each of these articles summarizes the findings of two of recent research reports on ICT4D

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The Low-Tech Way to Reach Everyone on Earth

We often focus on new technologies – developing the newest app or handing every teacher a tablet – as if they are magic bullets to solving the world’s development problems. While it would be great if this were true, if “innovation” was indeed the answer, we know that the reality is not so simple. A recent article in The Guardian cautions practitioners to “avoid the lure of the shiny gadget”, arguing that the best tech doesn’t need to be the newest tech, a lesson that rings true for us at Equal Access. Our experience is in accordance with other practitioners in ICT4D who argue that older technologies cannot be dismissed, and that technology convergence, rather than the latest new ICT, holds greater transformative potential. The Low-Tech Answer: FM Radio and IVR FM radio is still the most pervasive medium of information in the developing world, with usage and access close to 100% in almost every country

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Are Smartphones Making SMS Projects Obsolete?

Are SMS projects still relevant? Are toll-free phone numbers still needed? As more and more people in developing countries have access to cheap smartphones and third generation (3G) network coverage, should we still be utilizing text messaging and voice calls in development programs? Having completed a coordinated program of cross-sectoral mobile phone projects in Papua New Guinea, funded by the Government of Australia, I came up with seven guiding principles for the use of mobile phones in development efforts in Papua New Guinea and similar contexts.

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Open Congress, Just a Call Away (Brought to You by the Sunlight Foundation)

The Sunlight Foundation, always pushing the envelop on tech and open government in the United States and increasingly worldwide, launched a new service today: Call to Congress. The number 1-888-907-6886 (tol-free in the US) allows anyone to learn about how a lawmaker is voting on bills and raising their money for re-election. As the announcement states: “Being connected with your lawmakers’ Capitol Hill offices and getting details on legilsation is now as easy as ordering pizza…”The service is essentially an interactive-voice responce system that allows a user to navigate a menu tree to search a member of Congress by postal code. Lawmakers can add their biography, their top campaign donors, recent votes and allows a caller to be transferred directly to the Reprentative’s office.

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Newest Case Study from the Toolkit: Mobile Media Lessons from Afghanistan

A lot is happening right now with media development in Afghanistan (and no one seems to be writing about it.) For instance, a project between iMedia Associates and Media Support Partnership Afghanistan (MSPA) aims to enhance the interactivity and access of audio news programs via mobile phone. Users call in to a local short code, hang up, then receive a call back and can navigate and listen to top news stories, in Pashto, via an integrated voice response (IVR) system.

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Sewing Seeds with SMS: Assessing Mobile Phones’ Role in Agricultural…

Mobile phones may be one mechanism to increase effectiveness and efficiency for agricultural extension in low-income countries. Agricultural extension, broadly defined as the delivery of information to small-scale farmers, was developed to counteract information asymmetries suffered by farmers with limited access to information sources like landline phones, newspapers, radios and TV programming.

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Equal Access: Creating a Community Feedback Loop with Radio and Mobile…

We spoke with Prairie Summer and Graham Gardner of Equal Access to learn more about that organization’s work integrating educational radio broadcasts with mobile-based tools such as SMS and IVR. As they explain, this combination has enabled them to better tailor their message to their their audience and has allowed for a unique form of interactive communication.

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Design Opportunities and Challenges in Indian Urban Slums – Community…

Here is the original post: Design Opportunities and Challenges in Indian Urban Slums – Community…

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Planning and Implementing a Mobile Interactive Voice System

Long neglected in favor of SMS, mobile apps and the mobile web, voice is enjoying a resurgence in mobile tech for social change projects. There are good reasons for this: Voice is universally available on even the most basic handsets Voice has much greater capacity for information exchange (although not for automated translation) than either SMS or USSD Voice systems don’t require literacy Voice is familiar, and often a trusted channel for communicating confidential information. Voice systems can quite easily be developed in multiple languages, or in local languages not supported on all handsets.

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