Original mobile technologies

From California Technology Festival Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Led by Josh and Jordan

Mobile in this context

anything a “dumb” phone has

  • calling
  • SMS
  • radio combined with internet

Why Mobile is awesome

  • don’t have to install an app
  • SMS is instant
  • SMS open rate is very high
  • Note that you shouldn’t

Why Mobile sucks

  • costs per message (sometimes
  • interface: text messages are short and have difficult data formatting
  • tools for developing are not up to par with the rest of modern web development

Josh has worked on projects of various sizes

  • sending SMS to thousands of users
  • smaller projects setting up community radio
  • automated SMS services


  • We have a current system. How can we use it better?
  • What is the best way to use mobile for our projects?
  • Who should we target using SMS messaging?
  • What are the most effective kinds of things to share?
  • Never used SMS to reach out to our audiences, but we want to try it, particularly for monolingual Spanish speakers?
  • What does it require in terms of resources and budget?
  • Can we use it to target doners?

Various SMS services

  • Revolution messaging
    • hosting
    • shared shortcode (having your own is really expensive)
    • reasonably priced
  • Mobile commons
    • really big one
    • great product, very expensive
  • Frontline
    • software you can run yourself off a laptop with a tethered phone or GSM modem
    • developed primarily for data collection work in Africa
    • can be an inexpensive way to get started, you can use this and port to a different service later
  • Telerivet, web interface
    • sending out messages at demonstrations
    • getting feedback from guests at an event
    • $30/month for 5000 messages / day and 10,000 contacts
    • have to use your personal phone # or subscribe through a number through them | $0.01 per message inbound and outbound
  • Mozeo
    • inexpensive
  • SMS Blast
    • good for quick, one off messages

It’s a good idea to connect this services with an internet SMS number that lets you send and receive SMS over the internet

APIs to build your own system

  • Tropo, free to develop
  • Twillio
  • Clickitel, expensive but flexible, has a lot of foreign shortcodes


  • a five digit code that sends messages to you
  • usually use a shared code, with a keyword to route the message
  • costs something like $10,000 to set up your own shortcode
  • really helpful for signs and radio adds
  • much easier to remember

Case Study: Presente

  • can text to collect a phone number and collect a list of phone numbers
  • then reply with “Text your email and zip to join”
  • import into CRM system to followup by email
  • can be challenging to differentiate messaging for SMS and emails
  • can use SMS to collect donations, but you have to have your own shortcode
  • you could also text out a link that goes to a mobile optimized web page that collects donations, but requires a smartphone with data plan

CRM Integration

  • build your own custom
  • sometimes can export a csv file and then import it into a CRM
  • some CRMs have SMS integration, but usually with only with one provider

Other projects

  • communicating with doctors for medical advice
  • international development: mobile messages system for women who have stores in a market (like a replacement for email, in a community that didn’t have email)


  • need to be able to parse the information in some way--if you collect multiple pieces of information, it’s all in one message
  • using delimiters (like comma separated information) doesn’t work very well-9 out of 10 people will mess that up
  • keep it simple, collect one or two pieces of information
  • register a lot of different spellings of your keyword, to account for misspellings
  • can use a different keyword to specify language preference (Spanish vs. English, for example)
  • short bursts of messages are better than longer messages with multiple/complicated asks
  • make sure you give people a first message with an opt-out option

Other tools

  • vojo.co
    • mobile mapping and storytelling system
    • can do MMS
    • mobile blogs sent over SMS
  • WhatsApp
  • Snapchat
  • cel.ly
    • social networking over SMS
  • mailchimp
    • gather for collecting data at events (a little bit expensive)


  • Telerivet recommended as a relatively low cost service
  • Frontline is virtually free, and a good way to get started at very low cost

Other uses for mobile

  • walking tours, have a number that you call from each location with a recorded message
  • “people’s Skype” built for occupy--call a number and use multiple crowd members phones to broadcast a message
  • OPD sends out alerts, and you can text back a number, which the OPD will then send the same message to them

Research on teen use

  • Pew Internet Research, a number of years ago, did some research what mobile use is higher in Latino communities, compared to white communities
  • Anecdotal evidence says that current teens use mobile and texting more than ever before, but no hard research numbers


  • a low level mobile system, like sms, for messaging
  • used in a lot of other places in the world to collect multiple points of information
  • uses one connection for multiple messages, rather than several individual messages

Callback systems

  • You text to the shortcode, and then it calls you back
  • Example use is that user is called back, given a recorded message with talking points, and then connected to their congress person to talk about a particular issue
  • EFF and The Day We Fight Back have used this
  • The Day We Fight Back has an open source platform they built on Twillio that you can use, but you have to host it