A new tech enables polling via text messaging

A new Web-based tool, dubbed mSwali, that uses mobile technology has been developed in Kenya to help businesses and researchers conduct surveys as well as collect customer feedback in real-time.

The app that uses SMS surveys to collect information, can collect information from customers to be viewed and analyzed at the same time.

Jeremy Gordon, the founder, said the mobile research tool replaces the traditional paper questionnaire with a digital text format used to pass the questions to the participants, and the responses relayed via a text message.

“This means that even the most basic cell phone can be used,” Jeremy said.

The application will significantly bring down the costs involved in conducting face-to-face questionnaires, since there is no printing and transport costs. This also eliminates instances where respondents shy from responding to sensitive questions as there is no physical contact.

Setting up of mSwali is free of charge while sending a question to a respondent costs KSh10. Respondents are not charged to respond to the questionnaires as the reply cost is already included on the sender’s side.

Responses collected on the tool can be viewed used to produce reports in different formats and can be exported to other advanced data analysis tools like excel and SPSS.

“The average length of an m-survey is about five questions. In the case of longer surveys, respondents are at times promised airtime allowances of say KSh20 to motivate them to take part in the research,” said mSwali’s general manager Rachel Brooks.

The tool has already been used to conduct a survey of about 500 farmers across mSwali’s eight field offices. It has since signed up 15 corporate users, and has been used to send over 15,000 texts for different research purposes, including Grameen Foundation’s poverty survey done recently.

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