Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

In Rural Developing Regions, Free Software Turns Simple Mobile Phones into Tools of Advancement

BY Lisa Goldman | Friday, July 27 2012

How Freedom Fone can help in crisis management (source: Freedom Fone)

A simple open-source telephony platform is bringing communications networks to developing nations where literacy is low and Internet access limited. Freedom Fone is free software that enables organizations to create voice-activated communications networks. In regions where simple mobile phones are more common than toilets, let alone Internet access, Freedom Fone can be used to access, share and report information.

In one compelling example that caught the attention of a World Bank blogger, it allowed women in the Congo "...to anonymously access pre-recorded information regarding sexual assaults such as their legal rights and health with a function to request call back." Reproductive health activists from Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya are now discussing how to implement Freedom Fone in their countries.

The homepage provides cogent examples, presented in comics-style graphics, of how Freedom Fone can be applied variously in the categories of radio, crisis, elections, health, journalism, business and agriculture. In "crisis," for example, a man calls a number to report that his village has been flooded and that he is moving his family to a specific destination; the service will then use the information received from this man to update future callers about the situation in his region. Similarly, in "journalism," the graphic shows a citizen journalist phoning his report in to a radio station.

This is a thought-provoking example of how simple, inexpensive communications technology can vault over the obstacles of illiteracy and lack of infrastructure to improve lives and promote human rights.

News Briefs

RSS Feed wednesday >

First POST: Responding

The aftermath of Ferguson continues to reverberate; how one Senate campaign took advantage of Facebook's micro-targeting tools; the new Congress' tech agenda; and much, much more GO

tuesday >

First POST: Sad Reality

How social media changed the course of the Ferguson story; Ready for Hillary's 3-million-member email list; why Mark Cuban opposes net neutrality rules; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: All Against All

Why Uber isn't "the future" of cities; why journalists lost control of journalism; how Sean Parker is spending his political money; and much, much more. GO

friday >

First POST: Power Frames

The differences between "old power" and "new power"; Uber as a new/old power hybrid; debating Clay Shirky's feminist cred; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Creeping

Senator Al Franken's tough questions for Uber's CEO; how the NSA could make its phone metadata program permanent; global privacy groups launch a personal spyware catcher called Detekt; and much, much more. GO

Recreation.gov and other Govt Projects Move Toward Embracing New Digital Approach

A draft request for proposals for the revamping of Recreation.gov will include a requirement that reservation availability data be publicly accessible and that all proposals detail how they will enable third-party sales, as two members of the United States Digital Services have joined the government team overseeing the RFP, meeting some key demands of civic technologists and consumer oriented technology companies. GO

More