Over at the Mobile Media Toolkit, we recently have been looking at voice- and radio-based citizen media projects that incorporate mobile phones. In an Idea Lab post last fall, I collected a series of examples that primarily used the voice functionality of mobile phones; however, this new set of projects integrate voice and radio with data-based services like SMS and web. Below are some of the projects we think you should know about.

Projects to Watch

  • Voices of Youth in Nepal is a free text message channel that enables people to interact with a weekly radio program. The radio announcers pick a question every week and listeners can respond using SMS. The SMS posts are then put online, where youth can comment on each other’s responses. Read more about the project on MobileActive.org.
  • Shubhranshu Choudhary and CGNet Swara have set up a citizen journalism service in India for tribal populations. The tribal citizen journalists call and upload content, and then that content is sent as SMS and email messages to a list of subscribers. Read about it here on the ICFJ blog; a MobileActive case study is coming soon.
  • Leo Burd and the VoIP-Drupal project are creating a voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) platform
    that interoperates with existing VoIP PBX implementations (Asterisk,
    FreeSwitch, and others) to provide Drupal users with the ability to,
    among other things: record, send and receive audio messages; create and manage audio groups; add audio events to a shared calendar; and organize phone-based polls.
  • In India, the BBC has started using a commercial service called Bubbly that works like Twitter, but with audio. Users can upload little bursts of audio to the service. The users’ followers are then notified by SMS that an audio posting has been made.

As a result of these and other projects, we published a new how-to for citizen journalists, “Mobile Audio Recording in the Field (and How to Get a Clear Sound from the Streets).” The how-to includes instructions for recording high quality audio on the go, as well as how to self-publish audio content on the web.

We will soon publish a “State of Radio and Mobiles” white paper, as well as an article on how to deploy Interactive Voice Response systems in the near future. Keep on the lookout at MobileActive.org.