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[liberationtech] Interested in helping a FrontlineSMS/Android project?

Ken Banks, ken.banks at
Wed Oct 29 13:27:34 PDT 2008

Hi all


I'm sending this around to people who might be interested in getting
involved with this. I think the impact could be huge, and the ask is quite


Feel free to discard if it's not something that resonates! For your
information, the PC version of FrontlineSMS is being used for human rights
work in places such as Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Zimbabwe, and
is slated to help monitor a number of elections in West Africa in the coming
months. Since this is a Stanford project, some of you may have ideas of
where the students could find $75,000!


Many thanks.





I have been approached by students at Stanford University's Computer Science
(CS) Department to see if I can help with a project attempting to port
FrontlineSMS <>  onto Google's Android platform.
This is an idea which has been around for a while, fuelled by the excitement
of the potential of a messaging hub on a phone. According to the students:


This project would create a cheaper, more flexible, and more adaptable
platform for managing SMS by virtually eliminating the need for computers,
and even Internet, in the field. Large chunks of crowd-sourced data could be
aggregated in a server in the urban areas, and uploaded onto the web for
dissemination and/or further parsing. Crucially, users would no longer need
computers to set up a mass SMS platform, only an Android-enabled phone and a
phone plan with (unlimited) text messages. The decreased cost of operating
SMS-based networks would have a significant impact on non-profit mobile


The Stanford CS programme is usually geared to working to solve industry
problems, although this team of students want to work on technology and
social change issues. They need to raise $75,000 to make the project happen.
I've sent this around a few Foundations and donors. If you have any ideas or
suggestions, please forward this message on. It goes without saying that
there could be immense potential in a truly mobile messaging hub. If this
works then there's a natural project extension to port this over to J2ME.


I've posted a guest blog from the project at if you'd like more details.



Ken Banks



"Where technology meets anthropology, conservation and development"




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