Freedom Fone


The Sri Lanka Department of Export Agriculture (DOEA) sponsored two campaigns in the Kurunegala district, with ginger farmers in the north area and pepper farmers in the south area. Both campaigns were intended to improve the efficiency and timeliness of communication between DOEA extension officers and local farmers. Both campaigns used text messaging and both showed that there was interest from farmers in this form of communication, despite challenges with using text messaging on their phones. Many of the older generation farmers said they needed help to use text messaging but found the information useful. They asked for a voice-based system to complement the SMS system.
Use the embedded frame below or click here to view the story. Empowering Communities with Voice-enabled Technologies for Crisis Management on Prezi
VoiceICT4D project page LIRNEasia, through a stakeholder forum, advocated the Sri Lanka Disaster Management Center (DMC) to move towards a multi-agency situational-awareness platform by creating a register of alerting authorities and then sharing it’s call center and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system resources for emergency communication. The “Do you Hear Me” video, communicating the need for voice-enabled Information Communication Technologies (ICTs), to empower community-based emergency coordination, was visited by 496 viewers, of which 48 or them shared their knowledge on the subject. UNISDR debut film festival on DRR, selected our video as as one of the best three in the category of “best human interest story” Peer-reviewed scientific articles presented the realization study evidence emphasizing the practical technical instabilities and deficits in those technologies. The message was news to most researchers and practitioners. IVR-based solutions are gradually gaining momentum.
Date: October 15, 2012 Time: 09:00 AM – 1:00 PM Location: Inservice Training Institute, Gannoruwa, Peradeniya The Department of Agriculture, in conjunction with LIRNEasia, University of Peradeniya Faculty of Agriculture, University of Alberta, and University of Guelph will be hosting a workshop on the use of low cost information and communication technology (ICT) for individuals working across the agricultural sector. The workshop will provide an introduction and basic training on the use of free and open source software to enable community groups and individuals to set up very easily and then use the simple but powerful tools for communication, information collection, knowledge sharing, data visualization, and interactive mapping. The workshop will cover three basic platforms: • FrontlineSMS (text messaging and radio interface) • Ushahidi (interactive mapping) • Freedom Fone (interactive voice response) There is no cost to attend the workshop but seating is limited. Please register your interest in participating through LIRNEasia by contacting : nuwan [at] lirneasia [dot] net Click to download the workshop announcement
People in Sri Lanka felt the tremors from the April 11, 2012 tsunamigenic earthquake. Reports indicate that, before the Government of Sri Lanka could issue any kind of bulletin, within 10-15 minutes of the tremors, people were receiving tweets of the event. Samarajiva wrote – “Tweets kept flying. I and several others active in social media kept emphasizing that only a “watch” existed, that people should be alert and not do anything for now”; see full article in LBO. However, does twitter reach all Sri Lankans?
After watching the video, please take a few minutes to complete this questionnaire (there are only three simple questions to answer). You may scroll to the bottom to access the questionnaire; else click here. Thank you in advance. With the spread of affordable telecom services, most Asians now use their own phones to stay connected. Can talking on the phone help those responding to emergencies to be better organised?
Francis Boon presented the LIRNEasia and Sarvodaya conducted feasibility study at the CDAC Media and Tech workshop in London.
The LIRNEasia and Sarvodaya conducted feasibility study to integrate the Freedom Fone Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System with the Sahana Disaster Management System was presented at the Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC) technology fair. The congregation took place in London, UK, March 22 & 23. Brenda Burrell (Technical Director Freedom Fone), residing in Harare and I in Kunming, were invited with very short notice and couldn’t acquire visas to UK on time. However, our colleague in Oxford Francis Boon (Sahana Software Foundation) was able to fill our shoes given that he was already attending and presenting at the conference. Click to view the slides used to ignite the crisis management relevant message.
“From a global perspective, in our parts of the world people are vocal. We do business with voice. We don’t write big memos, we don’t write big e-mails, you just pick up the phone and you make a call, you talk to the person and you do your business. From that perspective Freedom Fone positions itself naturally in a very good way.” – on YOUTUBE
Everyone is looking for the killer app that can serve the non-digizen (non digital citizens). There is a lot of hype about smart phones but the practical field level thinkers have realized voice is the better solution. CGNet Swara a citizen journalism project, TCS Innovation Lab’s work on the use of speech for querying railway information1, IITM-RTBI’s Agriculture Information exchange, are a few of many Interactive Voice Response (IVR) enabled solutions that are taking shape in the region. Key reasons for the innovations surrounding IVR are to overcome the problems with key pad entry (pressing W thrice for Y) and traditional English based applications. It doesn’t get easier than pressing a few digits to dial a number and speak your mind or listen to a message.
The P.800 Difficult Percentage (or Difficulty Score) is an International Telecommunications Union Standardization sector recommended method for testing transmission quality in one’s own laboratory. We adopted this method in our feasibility study to enable Freedom Fone for emergency data exchange. The project studied the design challenges for exchanging the Freedom Fone interactive voice data with the Sahana Disaster Management System. This entailed taking situational reports supplied by Sarvodaya Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members in audible (or speech) forms and transforming them to text.
The usefulness and ease-of-use of interactive voice, with Freedom Fone, for Sarvodaya Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members to supply incident information was blogged two weeks back. Now the question is “how is all that information put to use in responding to those incidents?”. In here we tell parts of that story. CERT members call one of the four telephone numbers to access Freedom Fone; then press the “reporting” menu item number on their phone keypad to record a “field observation report”.
We conducted controlled-exercises, with Lanka Jathika Sarvodaya Shramadana Sangamaya (Sarvodaya) Hazard Information Hub (HIH) Operators and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members. The HIH data center is in Moratuwa. The study using interactive voice, field tested the technology in  Colombo, Matara, Nuwara-eliya, and Ratnapura Districts. Figure to the left shows an average ease-of-use of 3.95 and usefulness of 4.
We recently conducted a training and an exercise with Sarvodaya Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members in Colombo, Matara, Nuwara-eliya, and Ratnpura Districts. This was an action of the feasibility study to enable Freedom Fone with voice-based emergency data exchange (FF4EDXL). The training involved exposing them to the Freedom Fone interactive voice response system. The exercise involved the participating CERT members using the Freedom Fone system to supply answers to a survey. Each response was recorded as an audio file (MP3) through the telephone call and stored in the FF system.
In our current emergency communication research aiming to enable interoperability between Freedom Fone and the Sahana Disaster Management System for disseminating Common Alerting Protocol messages and receiving Situational Reports over voice channels, we came a cross the situation where the 2N UMTS modem license had silently expired. During our silent-test this weekend, in preparation for a drill this week, we noticed that the license had abruptly expired. Unaware of the licensing dependency, the Sarvodaya Hazard Information Hub staff were scratching their heads trying to figure out what had happened. Even though the problem was identified, given that it is the weekend, getting any immediate support from the vendor is questionable. This project: FF4EDXL follows from LIRNEasia’s HazInfo and Biosurveillance research.
Why voice for Sarvodaya’s emergency communication? The experience from the 2011 Foods in Batticaloa and Ampara districts was that Sarvodaya was able to secure aid from various sources by providing the actual ground situation through their web portal. It had images and information of rescue operations, victims, camps, and the devastation. The images and stories came from Sarvodaya head office staff who were deployed to the area. They used cameras, phones, and the internet to relay the ground situation to the Hazard Information Hub (HIH).