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Founded in 1982, Search for Common Ground (SFCG) works to transform the way the world deals with conflict - away from adversarial approaches and towards collaborative problem solving. SFCG works with local partners to find culturally appropriate means to strengthen societies' capacity to deal with conflicts constructively: to understand the differences and act on the commonalities.
With a focus on marginalized groups and rural communities, SFCG in West Africa draws on community radio as a vehicle to achieve these goals. As SFCG’s most numerous partner, community radio stations act as a central component to reaching mass audiences over large geographical areas. Community radio has proven an invaluable tool in addressing issues of conflict, and social issues such as poverty, human rights, and political representation to groups that otherwise remain left out of the larger discussion.
SFCG has established two community radio stations in Liberia, five in Sierra Leone, six in Guinea and five in Cote d’Ivoire. These radios, around the sensitive border areas, act as information providers and early warning mechanisms in places where access to information is the most difficult.
Search for Common Ground in West Africa is currently preparing to install the FrontlineSMS software and provide the necessary equipment for community radio stations within its collaborative network. It is hoped that FrontlineSMS will provide the following benefits to radio station managers:
ONE-WAY COMMUNICATION (listeners --> radio station)
• Provides a communication channel for listeners to contribute news, views, stories and feedback;
• Encourages listeners to interact during programming which provides greater access and insight into the local issues an audience cares about;
• Displays text messages during a program more clearly and are easier to read than on a small phone screen, freeing up air-time and avoiding awkward silences;
• Stores all text messages and calls automatically and permanently so you don’t have to worry about deleting each SMS from the phone to save space;
• Connects listeners with radio stations regardless if they live far away or in a rural location;
• Can be used to poll an audience and have their results automatically sorted for easy calculation.
TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION (radio station --> listeners)
• All caller contact information is automatically stored in a listener database;
• Listener database can be segmented into groups;
• Using a listener database, messages can be instantly sent to any group at any time to:
o Send a simple poll for immediate feedback on an issue
o Transmit important up-to-date information during natural or political emergencies, for search and rescue, family reunification, alerts and early warnings etc.
o Remind listeners to tune-in to a special radio program or attend an event
o Run a lottery where one lucky caller receives a gift, perhaps to build up your contact database, bring in a bigger audience or increase interaction for a specific campaign
• By creating and using groups you can send out targeted information to:
o Women (engaging them using information tailored to their needs)
o Voters (providing polling station information or emergencies to avoid)
o Staff (contacting staff for an emergency, a canceled meeting, etc.)
Tell us about you. (Please also add an image to your profile)
Interested in the intersection of international affairs, human rights, security, journalism and new media.
Have you had any luck tracking down a GSM modem to operate FrontlineSMS through? Were you having a problem tracking down a device, or were the devices not operating with the software?
Your work with SCFG sounds really in line with our own project and as you progress (and hopefully get FrontlineSMS up and running!), it would be great to hear more of your experiences.
I haven't been able to load up the SCFG website (probably a problem with my laptop) but my colleague, Sharath Srinivasan (project leader with Ken Banks), has told me Bill Siemering from DRP is involved. We're working with him and some of DRP's partner stations, like Radio Gbafth in Sierra Leone, to develop FrontineSMS:Radio. Are you also working with Gbafth as part of your project?