From January 9 to 15, Southern Sudan held a referendum to decide if the region should become an independent state. Although results have not yet officially been announced, estimates indicate that the referendum will pass with an overwhelming number of pro-independence votes. (Read MediaShift's recent report from Simon Roughneen on the ground in Sudan.)
It's essential to keep citizens informed of new developments during the voting period -- and one of the best ways to reach large numbers of people is through radio. The Sudan Radio Service, which has been operating since 2006, recently began incorporating mobile technology into its work in a two-pronged approach to monitor the reach of their broadcasts and to solicit reader feedback.
Jacob Korenblum of SoukTel, the company that designed both mobile services, explains that the service, which is based out of Nairobi, Kenya, and Juba, Sudan, wanted to make sure that their broadcasts were being heard by their target audience.
"The power of radio is that it can reach millions of people; the challenge of radio is that you don't know if people are listening," he said. "So I think that there was a big need for ways to get feedback from listeners across southern Sudan."
In order to monitor the reliability and clarity of the radio broadcasts, SoukTel designed a survey for field workers in ten different regions where the Sudan Radio Service is heard. Previously, the broadcasts were sent out of Nairobi over shortwave radio frequencies, but the new station in Juba uses an FM signal. The branching survey, available in both English and Arabic, leads the field workers through a series of questions to describe the sound quality of the programs and, if the sound quality is poor, potential reasons for the interrupted service. The information is sent back to the main radio centers where the data is used to track trends in service interruption and to make changes in problem areas. Written in PHP and SQL, the survey is available to field workers entirely through SMS so it works on basic phones.
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_Photo by United Nations Photo, Creative Commons Attribution License_