MIT’s Center for Future Civic Media has done a variety of breakthrough civic systems with phones. Examples range from Leo Burd’s What’s Up platform to the Call4Action class and its cool student projects.
We at C4 love these projects, but working with phones has always been a bear. A lot of programming is necessary. In many cases, people start with the phone and end up building custom infrastructure that begin to represent an actual content management system. Projects like Ushahidi or our earlier txtMob are really just simple CMSs with a few custom features for texting inputs.
So Leo Burd has been working on making the Drupal CMS more friendly for the billions of people around the world who only have access to basic telephony rather than smart phones and the web. Leo is launching the first release of the voice over Internet protocol Drupal platform at DrupalCon next week.
Here’s what Leo wrote about this exciting project:
VoIP Drupal is an innovative framework that brings the power of voice and Internet-telephony to Drupal sites.
VoIP Drupal can be used to build hybrid applications that combine regular touchtone phones, web, SMS, Twitter, IM and other communication tools in a variety of ways, including:
* Click-to-call functions
* Voice- and SMS-based Go Out to Vote campaigns
* 2-1-1 and 3-1-1 lines
* Phone-based community surveys
* PTA reminders
* Story recording / playback
* Group voicemail
* Geo-based callblasts aimed at specific streets or locations
* And much more!
In technical terms, the goal of VoIP Drupal is to provide a common API and scripting system that interoperate with popular Internet-telephony servers (Asterisk, FreeSwitch, Tropo, Twilio, etc) dramatically reducing the learning and development costs associated with the construction of communication systems that combine voice and text technologies together.
The following VoIP servers are currently supported:
* Tropo, through the voiptropo.module (available soon)
* Twilio, through the voiptwilio.module
This project is under continuous development. If you would like to get involved in the project or ask questions, discussion is taking place on the VoIP Drupal Group. You can find more information in the VoIP Drupal Handbook.
The VoIP Drupal platform has originally been conceived and implemented by C4, with major contributions from Civic Actions.