Just got word of this from a good friend of mine, Drew Bennett, a Fletcher School alumnus (F’08). Development Seed has been developing some very neat communications solutions. It’s tempting to write about all their creative projects but I’ll try my best to limit myself to one in particular which draws on new open source tools to make decentralized data collection more effective. From the developers themselves:
The release of the SMS Framework 1.0, along with the road map for a 1.1 version, is making Drupal a more attractive platform for organizations that need powerful, decentralized data collection tools. This recent work shows that using Drupal can give you a serious foundation to integrate sms applications and tools with a website. I want to expand on Will’s recent post about building a two way SMS Gateway on a USB drive and show how Drupal can act as a data hub for collecting data and messaging via sms.
We are interested in this because tools that can integrate with sms like this will be especially helpful for international development agencies with on the ground operations. For example, this functionality could allow an election monitoring organization to use sms to track reports from observers at polling stations or help a public heath organization to monitor when patients take medicine via sms messages sent from personal or public cell phones. It could even assist a disaster response organization to track the status of its team on the ground team through their handsets.
This tool could be particularly interesting for field based organizations operating in conflict zones as well. See also the group’s introductory overview of all their other projects here (PDF), which includes some very interesting dynamic mapping platforms.