Freedom Fone: dialing community media
As mobile phones become more sophisticated, it’s easy to overlook the simplicity, and yet the power, of the most basic type of handset that offers voice calls and text short message service (SMS) for communication.
It’s those basic services that Zimbabwe’s Kubatana Trust had in mind when they developed Freedom Fone to reach communities and audiences that do not have access to the Internet, and where literacy or language presents a barrier to gaining information.
From their website Freedom Fone is described as:
“…easy to build interactive, two way, phone based information services using interactive audio voice menus, voice messages, SMS and polls.”
Importantly, Freedom Fone is developed to be independent of the internet, both for the content provider and the end user.
Farmers in remote areas could for instance call an agriculture information service hosted on the Freedom Fone platform; navigate the interactive voice menu with the phone keypad (say, press 2 for market prices) and listen to the information they need. Or, radio stations could gather audio reports from listeners as voice mail messages or receive SMS answers – making another form of local community media available.
At the recent Global Media Forum in Bonn, Freedom Fone’s Co-Founder and Technical Director, Brenda Burrell, gave a couple presentations of the platform.
One audio example she played particularly stood out – so called “micro audio dramas”: broadcast as a series of short audio clips that people could call a service and listen to on their phone.
Burrell says educational micro dramas were among the most successful of the pilot projects using Freedom Fone.
For international media development agencies, innovative community media projects such as Freedom Fone, CGnet Swara in India, Voices of Africa and NT Mojos in Northern Australia, should also be good motivation to develop specific training programmes to produce audio and video content using mobile phones, or for “broadcast” via mobile phones.
From the Global Media Forum, have a listen to Brenda Burrell explaining more about the development of Freedom Fone, and you also can follow her on Audioboo.
Author: Guy Degen
TagsAudio, community media, community radio, freedom fone, media development, mobile phones, zimbabwe