No Internet? No Problem. Use SMS, Radio, Software, and Creativity

    by Melissa Ulbricht
    October 21, 2011

    In Uganda, where many lack access to the Internet, people can engage with local radio stations to make informed choices and hold their leaders accountable. Using SMS and a new tool, TRAC FM, listeners can respond to poll questions such as: What service delivery should be a priority: health care, education, security, sanitation or transport?

    TRAC FM was the focus of a larger case study we did for the Mobile Media Toolkit. The Mobile Media Toolkit is a project of MobileActive.org. The Toolkit provides how-to guides, wireless tools, and case studies on how mobile phones can (and are) being used for reporting, news broadcasting, and citizen media.

    The TRAC FM software plots SMS responses to questions poised during radio programs. The responses are condensed in data visualizations, including bar graphs, time graphs, and maps, so that radio presenters can get an overview of where reports are coming from and what the issues are.


    But, in Uganda, radio stations generally do not have websites, so sharing the visualizations with their audience requires a little more creativity. What stations do often have is an Internet connection to download audio files they use for advertisements from companies like MTN.

    How data visualizations help

    So radio presenters log into the TRAC FM system through their Internet connection in the studio and share the poll results with listeners during their talk show. The data visualization overviews may offer more substance, as they are the aggregation of an entire audience and not just an individual opinion. The data visualization for the public service delivery question, for example, showed that 65 percent of respondents thought health care was the top priority.


    To learn more about how they did this, read the full case study at the Mobile Media Toolkit.

    The Mobile Media Toolkit is a collection of resources, guides, case studies, and mobile tool reviews to help you make sense of mobile media. From creating and editing audio and video content on your handset, to delivering content to mobile audiences, to engaging with listeners and readers via mobile, it’s a one-stop shop on Making Media Mobile. We launched this summer and have been adding great new content and case studies, in English, Spanish, and Arabic. We now have a few pages available in Russian, too, with more to come.

    Stop on by to see what we’re up to. Find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or reach out to us here to submit your own stories from the field or alert us to great new mobile media tools.

    Tagged: accountability data engagement media mobile mobile media toolkit poll radio SMS software Uganda visualization

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