RapidSMS draws attention

Posted on Mon, Jan 18, 2010 – 10:13 am at MobileHealthWatch.com | mHealthNews.com

I want to credit Katrin Verclas of MobileActive.org (a global network of people using mobile technology for social impact) and Matt Berg from the Millennium Villages Project for putting the spotlight on RapidSMS, an open source framework developed by the UNICEF Innovation Team of the Youth Section, Division of Communications (New York Headquarters).

The Innovation Team connects youths who have access to information on the Internet to those who do not by combining low-tech hardware with sophisticated open-source software. They collaborate with development professionals, academia, and the private sector to create program initiatives that are educational and inclusive.

RapidSMS is used for data collection, logistics coordination, emergency supply chain tracking, remote health diagnostics and monitoring, and allows mobile phones to interact with the Web via SMS text messages. RapidSMS enables two main functions: mobile data collection (quantitative and qualitative data can be collected via SMS forms) and bulk SMS messaging. RapidSMS is a highly flexible and scalable system was designed to be customized for the specialized needs and constraints of governments, multilateral and non-government organizations, and development practitioners. The RapidSMS platform requires strong technical skills to install and configure.

This scalability takes two forms: Horizontal scalability is the capacity of an application to be replicated outwards. RapidSMS can merge completely different real-time data sets, for example child malnutrition surveillance and ready-to-use therapeutic food supplies. This allows for dynamic and instantaneous monitoring and analysis of complex environments. Vertical-scalability is RapidSMS’s ability to effectively handle vast amounts of data and users, ensuring that projects successfully implemented at a pilot level can easily be grown and redeployed at national and regional levels.

RapidResponse is one m-health platform built on RapidSMS, supported by the UNICEF Innovation Group and developed for the Millennium Villages Project, focused on child malnutrition. It uses SMS text messages to facilitate and coordinate the activities of lay community health care workers in the field. The workers register patients, submit health reports to a central Web dashboard that allows a health team to closely monitor the health of a community, and utilize an automated alert system that helps reduce gaps in treatment.