Question Boxes, arrayed in a network across a city, district, or even country, could vastly expand the reach of a program
WHY QUESTION BOX?
“A woman is still 21% less likely to own a mobile phone than a man. This figure increases to 23% if she lives in Africa, 24% if she lives in the Middle East, and 37% if she lives in South Asia” (GSMA: Women & Mobile: A Global Opportunity)
Question Box installations put populations in direct one- and two-way contact with your organization. Our team has experience in building and supporting simple local language community hotlines to increase program reach, reduce costs, and increase connection with outlier populations, who may not have access to mobile phones, or may be illiterate. Question Box is well-regarded within ICT for Development sector for technical and programmatic capabilities that fill a gap to reach, provide services and gain feedback from the most marginalized communities in the developing world
• Reach larger, more diverse demographics
• Reduce costs of travel and reporting
• Run temporary campaigns or permanent feedback installations
• Build interactivity, spread messages and positive brand recognition on the ground
DATA FOR ADVOCACY
“Without high-quality data providing the right information on the right things at the right time; designing, monitoring and evaluating effective policies becomes almost impossible….In a world increasingly awash with data, it is shocking how little is known about some people and some parts of our environment..” “A World that Counts: Mobilising the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development.” UN Data Revolution Group
Calls from Question Box installations provide a new source of data for analysis of conversations happening on the edges of societies, from which early patterns in crisis, health, political and environment can be inferred. With Question Box deployments, valuable call data is generated, mapping language and location of populations in need, and detecting early patterns to mitigate risks and to advocate effectively.
Question Box is complementary to existing ICT innovations, and can integrate into existing programs. It connects marginalized populations who previously could not participate, due to:
- Low or no literacy
- Inexperience with technologies
- Infrequent access to mobile devices
Cost-efficient and scalable, Question Box is compatible with ICTD approaches that include: Geo-Tagged Reporting, Electronic Record Keeping, SMS, IVR, Data Gathering and Surveying.
COMPLEMENTING MOBILE DEVICES
In programs where the following issues occur, a mobile device ICT strategy can benefit from public, communal Question Boxes as part of a comprehensive solution to complex problems:
1. Population frequently changes SIM cards or lets them lapse, putting them out of touch.
“One facility contacted 70 patients using the recorded mobile phone number. Only one patient was contactable; the other 69 numbers were incorrect or no longer belonged to the client.” (USAID – Improving Healthcare for Patients with HIV in Uganda)
2. Population lacks literacy, a prerequisite for SMS engagement. Over 1 billion people are illiterate, especially the vulnerable. Question Boxes use local language voice communication.
“Anecdotal evidence from international development practitioners for years has suggested that voice is the most dependable medium for reaching poor households, even over SMS. While working in areas of Sierra Leone with low literacy rates, for example, Ormel et al. recorded a female client talking about her interaction with the local community health worker: “I do not receive text messages because I do not know how to read. I can only receive calls. I cannot even make the call myself. My brother usually helps me out.” Some studies have provided empirical evidence comparing voice and text messaging. Medhi et al., for example, found that in healthcare applications of mobile-phone networking a live operator delivers results that are up to ten times more accurate than text-based interfaces and that user interfaces requiring text are “unusable by first-time low-literacy users, and error prone for literate but novice users.”
“Tempered Enthusiasm for Digitally Enabled Networks in International Development” Sara Boettiger
3. Using personal mobile device for socially sensitive, health or disease-related topics is undesirable or leads to user safety risk.
4. Cost of minutes: Question Boxes generally are configured so the program pays a low, flat monthly fee to the telecom provider for unlimited minutes, promoting sustainability by ensuring predictable, affordable communications cost.
5. When distributing mobile devices to field staff has feasibility hurdles:
- Cost of personal hardware and distribution
- Cost of SIM cards, minutes, and data
- Cost of technology training
- Maintaining inventory control over the devices and recovering them
- Personal risk of device being stolen; “appropriated” by others; or sold
- Personal cost to charge the device
- Challenges if input language different than primary language
6. Uneven mobile phone ownership, impeding contact with vulnerable groups such as women, the elderly, or children.
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