March 28, 2014
SMS gives a voice to Africa
Response rates for surveys via texting in developing regions typically are well above 20 percent; in the United States, 0.5 to 1 percent is considered good. Tech Page One reports.
When the World Bank surveyed the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2011, it used text messaging. ?A traditional survey would have cost $3.5 million, taken 18 months and reached 2,500 people,? recalls Steve Gutterman, president of GeoPoll, the organization that conducted ?DRC Speaks!?
The 10-question survey about conflict, security and development was GeoPoll?s first survey in the Congo using SMS and feature phones. ?We reached 100,000 people in a single day for a fraction of the cost,? Gutterman says.
Similar results are being repeated throughout the developing world. Although the specifics vary, organizations know that in regions with little infrastructure, virtually no cabled Internet and very real physical dangers, text messaging is the most effective and accurate way to hear from a meaningful cross section of people who often have little voice outside their own communities.
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