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

Update on a public release of the FamilyFIRST domestic violence sytem

About a year ago, I developed a system around FrontlineSMS called FamilyFIRST. FamilyFIRST was developed to allow domestic violence agencies to provide better services to victims by allowing them to report incidents silently via a simple SMS message. It also allowed victims in crisis to immediately summon the police or make contact with a crisis intervention worker without the need to actually make a phone call.

Since the implementation of the system, I've gotten a lot of interest from people wanting to implement a similar system in their community but the agency I developed the software for has, thus far, refused to cooperate with other agencies in sharing code or even giving any details of the system besides what's published in my brief whitepaper posted here in the "Case Studies" section of the site. So, I've decided to address that problem.

Currently, I'm redeveloping the entire system from scratch along with some enhancements that aren't part of the original system and plan to do a general public release on 1, October. The software will be completely open source, not rely on any third party frameworks, and should work with almost any version of FrontlineSMS.

Features the initial release will have include:
  • The ability to log domestic violence incidents entirely through SMS
  • The ability to attach photos, audio, and video clips to a report for evidence
  • Instant and secure communication with a crisis intervention worker through SMS with log
  • The ability to summon the police silently using an SMS message
  • Automated information delivery for quick retrevial of important information like crisis line numbers, etc
I'm working very hard to make this as broad base of a system as I can and I'm confident that it will be usable by most agencies right out of the box. Of course, since I don't work for a domestic violence agency, there's a lot I can't anticipate and, thus, will rely on the real-world community of crisis workers to provide input on how to make the system better. This will indeed be a true community effort.

I'll be doing another update as I have more news to share but that's it for now. If you know of any features your agency would like to see in the software, feel free to email me at papillion [at] gmail [dot] com and share them. I'll be implementing new features until 20 September afterwhich I will freeze all new code additions as I prepare for the release.

Thanks for all the support and interest in this software. FrontlineSMS is an incredible system and I'm very glad to be a small, small, part of such a vibrant community.

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Comment by MARS Lab (Gordon) on December 14, 2011 at 1:36pm

Hi Anthony, I'd like to know a bit more about the way you've set up the system and what city you are operating from.  I'm with the University of Alberta and we are involved with a community group using SMS for harm reduction with women on the street.   In our case we drafted a Memorandum of Understanding with the community organization to set out terms of reference and responsibilities for the project before the first SMS was even sent.  The MOU is intended to make sure both parties understand their roles and responsibilities.  Also, because this project is part of university research the MOU includes a section that ensures data generated by the pilot study (including FLSMS logs) is accessible to the research team.  I'm also a proponent of free documentation licensing, so any design  features or documentation related to the program and FLSMS must remain free and open.  That prevents any community organization from claiming proprietary rights over it.  A relatively easy way to set up this kind of arrangement is to stipulate that any documentation and related intellectual property from the project fall under a Creative Commons license.      

Comment by Melissa Gopnik on September 13, 2010 at 6:06pm
Hi Anthony,
Great news. We have also now received a small grant to customize for rape crisis work. Looking forward to the discussion on Friday. I filled out the on-line form - will details on listening in be e-mailed out?
Melissa Gopnik
Comment by Anthony Papillion on August 28, 2010 at 3:07am

Congrats on your grant! That's exciting to hear!

Unfortunately, I didn't not get your email. Over the last few weeks, I've had quite a bit of trouble with my email so chances are it got lost somewhere in the void of cyberspace. Can you resent it to me?

Hope all is well and I look forward to hearing from you!

Comment by Survivors Connect on August 27, 2010 at 5:14pm
Hey Anthony! Did you get my emails regarding customizations, I never heard from you? Glad to see you included logs. This is really great news.

We received a small grant to do customization on FLSMS, however all of our team members agree that its better not to recreate the wheel and use resources to use/promote what's out there! We're happy to see you're doing this and if there is anything we can do to help, let me know.
We're interested in applying it to anti-trafficking work, as it is so similar to approaches in combating DV!! Perhaps we can link up in this regard!

Comment by Laura Walker Hudson on August 27, 2010 at 7:25am

This is great to see - I've passed it to my colleagues at the Warwickshire Domestic Violence Support Service - we look forward to seeing the software and having a play with it! Let us know if we can be of any help - that's WDVSS, or the core \o/ team, of course. :)

Comment by kiwanja on August 27, 2010 at 6:12am
Great work, Anthony! Great to have you with us. \o/

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