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RapidSMS is a collaborative effort of UNICEF and partners in the Open Mobile Consortium including Frontline SMS and the Ushahidi project, all of which have used mobile technology to gather data from both local populations and development professionals in emergency situations. The collaborative and open-source philosophy behind this development process means that anyone can use and adapt RapidSMS for his or her purposes. In addition, when it is time to scale up the system to monitor supplies and health data in the rest of Africa, there are no licensing fees, and local resources can be leveraged to ensure that the system is adapted appropriately. The award winning project comes out of UNICEF’s new strategy for using mobile and web-based technology to facilitate communication in Africa and around the world. Although “Innovation” is usually equated with “hi-tech,” UNICEF has recognised that sometimes the best innovation involves working with what already is, rather than developing something entirely new. As a result for the past two years, UNICEF and partners have been exploring ways to use existing technology to improve their programmes and provide innovative solutions to organizational needs.

Rapid SMS – Frontline SMS and Ushahidi

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