Mobile for Advocacy & Social Organizing

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  • Why Mobile? Always on, everywhere. As of June, 91% of US Adults carry a cell phone.
  • 2/3 of which are smart phones, 1/3 of which are 'dumb' phones
  • Phone communication can be broken down into Voice, Text, and Data (Apps and Web)
  • Voice and text are available on even the most basic phone, the primary limitations lie in the service plan of the end-user, and whether or not they have a limited amount of, or opted out of entirely, sending and receiving calls and/or text messages


  • Traditional phone communication, person-to-person conversation

Things to consider:

  • network coverage (if signal is weak the call quality will suffer or the call will drop altogether),
  • if outside of network coverage the call will not be received, service (i.e 'minutes', 'roaming') charges and distance,
  • calls are live (no record of call unless it was recorded, or notes were taken) and can be easily missed,
  • calls must be scheduled to when both people are available at the same time,
  • only capable of one-to-one/party calls, but very resource intensive.


  • More personal, and allows for natural feedback and tone.

Text - Short Message Service (SMS)

Things to consider:

  • Must be opt-in and provide obvious way to opt-out at any time,
  • limited to 160 characters (though if more is required, it can be broken into multiple messages [i.e. include 'Message 1/2'], but this should only be used if absolutely necessary),
  • in the US, people are charged to both send and receive messages (but not the rest of the world),
  • different carriers may have policies regarding international texting


  • Inexpensive,
  • people will always read a text message when received (Don't abuse it! Make it as concise and beneficial to their interests as possible),
  • "Store-and-forward" (if a person is out of coverage, the message will be received as soon as it is possible),
  • Does not require strong or consistent cellphone coverage,
  • both people will have a record,
  • highly scalable,
  • allows one-to-many communication of important information,
  • can be automated to auto-reply,
  • use key words to collect or provide information,
  • create user groups, and
  • more advance web-interaction.

Automated services

  • Many tools are available that do essentially the same thing with varying costs, scalability, requirements, setup, and maintenance
  • FrontlineSMS
    • can use basic phone (and it's cell service) and laptop (no internet required) to send and receive messages and can be set up to automate services using keywords.
  • Frontline SMS for Android
    • The same service ported to be Android-native, meaning all that is required is a phone running Android and cell service (However, this project is out of development and may develop bugs, but in experience it was fairly reliable)
  • TeleRivet
    • Web and Mobile-web based, it can be set up on a computer (with internet) and run from a phone with both cellular coverage and a


  • Jordan used an automated service to record and map event attendance as a way to demonstrate,
  • also used at demonstration to measure commitment of attendees to easily include in future news and updates