FrontlineSMS let users send, receive and manage SMS over a mobile network.

Hi, I've just started using frontline sms, and still trying to get my head around it. I'm based in East Africa and we're trying to roll out some data collection of firewood usage and deforestation in rural areas. Our project doesn't have a huge budget, so we wanted to leverage using the cell phones already owned by our agents to be able to get the data, while giving them data bundles. Sadly most low end phones nokias/alcatels aren't java enabled. Is their a way to still install frontline on them so they can fill the forms? Appreciate the help

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Hi Deepali,


Thanks for getting in touch, and welcome to FrontlineSMS! \o/ The FrontlineForms functionality only works on java enabled phones, I'm afraid. However, there are other ways to collect data using FrontlineSMS software to receive standard SMS data from phones that aren't java enabled. Some FrontlineSMS functionalities exist to make this type of data collection easier. For example, you can arrange incoming messages using keywords to collect data on specific topics. You can also organise the contacts who are helping you to collect data into different contact groups within FrontlineSMS. It is then also possible to export the message data received into a .csv file, and thus analyse the data received.


I hope this information helps you get started with looking at FrontlineSMS as an option for simple data collection. If you have further questions, or any of the above is unclear, please do feel free to ask!




Thanks Flo. Yeah I've explored the other options, but I was hoping to be able to install the forms on the phone to ensure details get properly filled in. Need about 10 parameters from data collectors on a daily basis, so you can imagine how many mistakes will appear with keywords. Especially since we were looking at a community watch model, where rural populations could submit critical information related to deforestation.

Tried to look up if it was possible to install Java/J2me on the phones, but it's not as easy as I hoped. I'm not a programmer/IT person so you'll have to excuse the silliness. 

Guess it's a fine balance between scale, costs and credibility of data. 

Hi Deepali,


Thanks for your follow up comments here. It can certainly be a challenge to get the right balance when designing a data collection programme. Organisations often use FrontlineForms with staff / community members who they have trained (a good recent example is Technoserve using FrontlineForms in Tanzania, featured here on our blog) because you do need java-enabled phones and so a slightly different approach can be required to use of standard FrontlineSMS. 


A full list of phones that are compatible with FrontlineForms are available here on our website, and we're more than happy to help answering any follow up questions you have on different methods of data collection. Please do feel free to stay in touch, and let us know how you get on with this.


All the Best,




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