SMSsync Advances Emailing in African Regions with no Internet

Ushahidi’s SMSsync is fast changing the communication trends in Kenya’s thriving workplaces and societies with no Internet access, says Henry Addo.

Addo, a Ghanaian Software Engineer and Ushahidi’s developer says the system can be used to send SMS as Email thus providing African farmers and traders who have no access to the Internet to communicate with their counterparts elsewhere.

SMSSync has since found application in live radio talk show programs, he adds.

The SMS to HTP, a utility designed to enable sending SMS from phone to Internet, has become a reality in a country of more than 40 million people with 16 million using mobile phones. It was initially designed for use as Ushahidi App for android, for sending reports to Ushahidi website via SMS places without Internet by turning Android phones into SMS Web gateways, according to Eric Hersman, SMSsync founder.

“We wanted make it easy for people without access to computers to easily send SMS messages to Ushahidi. But after sometime we realized SMSsync had a lot of value for other use cases beyond Ushahidi,” Hersman said.

At present, the app has been translated into five languages and is in use on a number of platforms including SMS-to-Twitter app and Facebook to SMS. It in addition offers back notifications on phones without Internet capability, adds Addo.

To start the SMSSync Gateway, a specific callback URL must be completed with filename where all incoming SMS will be transmitted to. It is secured by a secret key at the callback URL and sticks on the specified type of text in the keywords. The gateway shows the sender number, the SMS body, the unique SMS ID, and the phone number of the recipient and the exact time it was sent. Texts are filtered by keywords and transmitted into a configured URL via HTTP POST request.

Ushahidi though not the first one of its kind, complements Bernsoft interactive, originally designed to enable listeners to interact and poll in live radio shows in Kenya. KalSMS is another utility that runs on Android. It is designed to support polling, MMS support and multipart SMS.

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