The Indigo Trust Provides Support for Question Box

Killak Health Center Launch

Many thanks to The Indigo Trust for their generous grant supporting Question Box. The Trust is providing support to Question Box to scale and develop our operations worldwide. With Indigo's assistance, Question Box is making significant strides forward with our Health portfolio, helping partners provide lifesaving information and service linkages in extremely marginalized communities.

Projects already benefiting include:

  • NUMEM, Pader, Uganda - Utilizing Question Boxes to dispatch ambulances to rural communities in life-threatening cases.
  • Lotus Medical Foundation, Kolhapur, India - Seeding Question Boxes throughout marginalized communities, linking women via a Mother-Baby hotline to counseling, care, and Community Health Worker support.
  • eHealth Africa, Sierra Leone - Installing Question Boxes to link isolated rural communities with the national Ebola 117 hotline, to provide information to keep people safe, and links to area services.

The Indigo Trust is a UK based grant making foundation that funds technology-driven projects to bring about social change, largely in African countries.  The Trust focuses mainly on innovation, transparency and citizen empowerment. Indigo Trust publishes an excellent blog on ICT and development, and we encourage visiting and signing up to receive updates.

We are very grateful for The Indigo Trust's continued support of Question Box, as well as for the support they provide to our many colleague organizations in the field, and look forward to reporting on what they have made possible in field deployments to help the most marginalized communities worldwide!

Updates from Pader - Question Box installed

NUMEM Clinic's first Question Box is live and installed in Pader, Uganda! The carpenter has built a shelter, power is connected, and call service is working! The Question Boxes are being installed at government health clinics, used to answer health questions and to call for an ambulance during an emergency. NUMEM Clinicians and District Government health personnel are sharing the job of answering calls, making it a joint, collaborative initiative.




Question Box welcomes new Chief Medical Officer!

Question Box welcomes Dr. Monica Kumar to the Board of Directors, where she is serving in the capacity of Chief Medical Officer. Monica has worked in various international settings, including working with medics from different ethnic states within Burma to increase access to quality health care for eastern Burma’s isolated and displaced populations, creating/teaching an ultrasound curriculum to medics at the Mae Tao Clinic, supervising residents in Guyana, and assisting in operations in a rural hospital in Ghana.  She has lectured at many conferences around the world including in India, Ethiopia, Guyana, Italy, and Thai-Burmese border.  She received her BA and MD from Brown University and completed her residency in emergency medicine at LAC+USC.  Afterword, she went on to complete a fellowship in international emergency medicine at the LAC+USC, earning a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (DTMH) at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and an RDMS (an ultrasound certification).

We are honored to have Monica join us on the Board, and look forward to her expert advisory support of Question Box medical programs!

Question Boxes Launching in Pader in July!

UPDATE from Northern Uganda Medical Mission: It's official! NUMEM Health Centre will introduce our Rural Emergency Medical Communication System this July, sharing our goal of universal and quality health care access with community members. We are now in possession of eight top of the line Question Boxes that we will be installing throughout the district, and are in the process of purchasing a motorbike we will use to reach patients who live in the hard-to-reach areas. By the end of June we will have connected to a closed caller group through AirTel, and have begun surveying community members to gauge community need. We are so excited about launching the system and improving access to health care in Pader!

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Screen shot 2014-06-06 at 6.01.06 PM
QB 2
QB 2

Question Boxes heading to Pader, Uganda!

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Screen shot 2014-03-18 at 9.45.17 PM

Hello friends of Question Box. We've got some big news - EIGHT new Question Boxes, built by our partner manufacturing facility in Taiwan, are right now making their way to Pader, Uganda! They are going to a great grassroots organization - the Northern Uganda Medical Mission. NUMEM is founded by local clinicians from Pader, who have founded a medical facility in the area. The Question Boxes will link directly to the clinicians during office hours, allowing people in 8 villages access to a medical specialist right away when something is of concern. Additionally, the Question Boxes will serve as a 24/7 ambulance dispatch, for the only ambulance in the District! The nearest hospital is 2-3 hours away, and this service will ensure that people in need can get transport in time. If you'd like to support or learn more about the project, please connect with us, or with NUMEM.

NEW VIDEO - Question Boxes in Pader, Uganda

We are working with a great local group, Northern Uganda Medical Mission - to bring 8 Question Boxes to villages in Pader, Uganda. Take a look at the great video NUMEM made, explaining why this new medical hotline is important, and how the introduction of Question Boxes will link communities to medical care:

Berkeley Innovation Group working on open source Question Box Hardware

UC Berkeley
UC Berkeley

A team of students at UC Berkeley in the Berkeley Innovation Group are developing blueprints for an open source Question Box! "Our current goal is that by the end of the semester (December 14th), we will publish a construction manual that anyone can use to build their own Question Box. It’s not yet clear exactly what form this document would be, or even whether it would be a typical document at all; but if rural villages in Africa, India, or Asia can use our creation to build a Question Box and connect their members to the world, we’ll consider it a success."

Follow their blog and progress at

Open Question - Navigating the technical white water rapids

Indigo Logo
Indigo Logo

The Indigo Trust just published our recent account detailing the wild and wooly journey we have taken to develop our newest offering, Open Question. This journey was generously sponsored by The Indigo Trust, and we got there thanks to our incredible and dedicated programming team, who went through incredible challenges to get us to the finish line.

Open Question – Persevering Through Technical White Water Rapids

Posted on

August 23, 2012



By Scott Fairbanks and Rose Shuman – Question Box

Our organization, Question Box, spent years creating and running local hotlines in rural, developing world communities. In 2010, the Question Box team agreed upon a major shift in direction. To achieve a real shift in development practice we needed move away from being implementers, and towards being a tool-provider. That way, we could spread and scale the promise of low-cost hotlines by taking what we had learned and creating a way for NGOs to build and manage their own hotlines.

Open Question, our software concept, was a keystone to building a hotline toolkit. Open Question is a software program that helps community organizations record data from incoming hotline calls, efficiently search for answers, and track call times, caller demographics, and answers to survey questions. The spec demanded a simple desktop interface that could work on offline, outdated computers in developing countries. Meaning, it had to be compatible with the likes of a Pentium II PC with 128 MB of RAM running Windows XP.

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From our partner, The Zimbabwean

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Picture 45

Please help us win News Challenge!The Zimbabwean has entered the 2012 African News Challenge in partnership with Question Box – but we need all our readers to help us win. We propose to harness the unique power of Question Box technology to engage our existing network of journalists and readers in opening up new avenues of discussion and news gathering inside Zimbabwe.

In our own country as well as in much of Africa, media access is not free, nor is it a two-way discussion. Our submission can change that – but we need your help! The more popular our entry, the better our chances of winning the money we need to get it off the ground. If our supporters take 15 seconds of their time to leave a "heart" and comment on our entry, we stand a much better chance of being able to make a real difference.

So, please visit the link below and leave a comment and a "heart", and then forward this message on to all your friends. We're really grateful for the support you've shown us so far; we know that with your help we can continue to help promote freedom and justice in Zimbabwe.

Our submission:

Wilf Mbanga

Editor The Zimbabwean

Question Box auf Deutsch


Question Box was recently featured in Betterplace Lab's Trendreport. " Sie können nicht lesen? Sie leben in einem Slum oder auf dem Acker ohne Internetzugang? Sie sprechen kein Englisch oder Deutsch? Aber sie müssen unbedingt was wissen? Fragen Sie die Question Box, eine Sprechanlage, bei der man auf Knopfdruck mit jemandem verbunden wird, der im Internet recherchiert. Etwa wann der nächste Bus in die Großstadt fährt. Auf welche aktuellen Preise für Weizen sie sich beim nächsten Verkaufsgespräch beziehen können. Wie das Wetter morgen wird, falls sie sähen wollen."

Read the entire article - auf Deutsch!

Question Box at UNESCO World Press Freedom Day

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wpfdlogov2 with text

Question Box was a featured technology presented at UNESCO World Press Freedom Day in Tunis, Tunisa May 3-5, 2012. In developing, emerging, and conflict/post-conflict countries, we demonstrated how Question Boxes can connect the local media to citizens safely and efficiently. Question Boxes are useful both to get tips and reporting from citizens on the ground, and to give citizens a point of access to learn the latest news updates live.

Check out our slide presentation below! If you are a news media outlet, please get in touch if you would like to use Question Box for citizen outreach.

UNESCO World Press Freedom Day Question Box Tunisia May 2012

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Open Mind


Thanks to


for sponsoring our participation.

Presenting next week at UNESCO World Press Freedom Day

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Picture 3

Question Box will be represented on a panel at UNESCO World Press Freedom Day in Tunis, Tunisia on May 4th. Presenters will share "Innovations in Gathering and Sharing News."

At Question Box, we've always seen a natural fit between media and the Question Box approach, both as way for the media to get information from citizens, and for citizens to get information from the media. We will post our slideshow after the presentation. If you are going to be at the conference, please get in touch!

Question Box featured by Christian Science Monitor Change Agent blog

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Picture 2

Question Box helps people Google can't reach

Millions of people in the developing world lack internet access and the ability to 'Google' an answer to their questions. Question Box provides a simple solution.

Originally published by Yadira Gutierrez, Mercy Corps Global Envision / February 14, 2012

For millions in the developing world who can’t just “Google it,” a box is providing the answers.

To begin, users push a green "talk" button on the metal intercom box and ask a question in their local language. An operator in a larger town with more Internet bandwidth will look up their questions online and relay the answers to the caller. The red button ends the call.

The Question Box was created by Open Mind, a nonprofit founded by Rose Shuman in partnership with the Grameen Foundation.

Internet access is not given a second thought in the developed world, but for billions around the globe, the Internet is far out of reach.

IN PICTURES: Top 10 countries that say Internet access is a basic right

"Question Boxes leap over illiteracy, computer illiteracy, lack of networks, and language barriers," according to Shuman and fellow organizers. "They provide immediate, relevant information to people using their preferred mode of communication: speaking and listening."

Read full article here

Fast Company Co.EXIST features Question Box!

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Picture 12

Question Box Answers Questions In Remote Villages That Can’t Just Google It

By Michael J. Coren

January 4, 2012

Without an Internet connection or robust smartphones, many people around the world don’t have access to instantaneous information. Question Box--a mobile phone connected to an operator--can help villagers from settling bar bets to answering serious questions about health and farming.

Ask, and you shall receive. When it comes to information in much of the developing world, this simply isn’t true. Connectivity is like air in industrialized nations: We take it for granted that we can go online with a question in mind and search a good portion of human knowledge to find the answer.

But the next time you’re in a bar settling an argument by checking IMDb on your smartphone, think about how people in other parts of the world have to resolve these questions, or even more important ones. Rural areas without decent roads or schools, never mind an Internet connection, have little to link them to the outside world. For these places, there is now Question Box.

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