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Text Messaging

Media (R)evolutions: U-Report mobilizes youth via SMS and social media

Roxanne Bauer's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

In 2011, UNICEF launched an innovative program called “U-report” in Uganda. The goal was to use the ubiquity and connectivity of mobile phones to ask young people what they thought about specific issues affecting their community and then encourage them to participate in community-led development projects. 

The U-report system works by sending polls, asking for feedback and providing information via SMS and social media to volunteers, known as “U-reporters”. Weekly polls are sent out on Wednesday and results are shared on Monday. There is no charge at all for a U-reporter to send any message, which enables greater response rates. U-Report is powered by RapidPro, an open source solution, which different countries can implement.

The information that is collected can also be used by local and national media or sent to key stakeholders to alert them to the challenges their constituents are facing.

Uganda National Pulse, U-Report

Today, there are over 280,000 U-Reporters in Uganda alone and 800,000 in over 14 countries worldwide, including Mexico, Indonesia, and others across Africa. By the end of 2015, U-Report is expected to expand to approximately 20 countries and reach 1 million young people.

Weekly Wire: The Global Forum

Johanna Martinsson's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

International Journal of Communication

Online Civic Cultures? Debating Climate Change Activism on YouTube

"This article explores the potential of video activism on YouTube to form a communicative space for deliberation and dissent. It asks how commenting on activist videos can help sustain civic cultures that allow for both antagonism and inclusive political debate. Drawing on a case study of online debates spurred by the video War on Capitalism, which called for protest against the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference, the article offers an empirical analysis that operationalizes the framework of civic cultures. In so doing, it investigates the ways in which activist videos are received by potentially transnational publics and how online modes of debate engage notions of the public sphere in contemporary online environments." READ MORE


National Geographic

Aid Workers Turn to Text Messaging to Improve Food Aid Delivery to Refugees in the Western Sahara

"Communication between beneficiaries and food aid providers in the Western Sahara refugee camps in Algeria suffers as the number of food distribution points increases. Rosa Akbari worked as an independent researcher funded by a grant from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) to explore better communication tools to be used within the camps. What she found was a society prepped for technological innovation. By using what was already in place – a mobile phone in each household – Rosa capitalized on existing flows of information as they worked without technology and used FrontlineSMS to ease the communication within the camps." READ MORE