Internews Center for Innovation & Learning

Internews Center for Innovation & Learning
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Building your own SMS application in minutes

On July 30, we continued our series of Innovation & Learning webinars with Nicolás di Tada, Director of Platform Engineering at InSTEDD, an organization that designs and uses open source technology tools to help partners improve collaboration, information flow and knowledge sharing to better deliver critical services to vulnerable populations. Their interdisciplinary team of public health experts, scientists, and software engineers help build local capacity to solve critical health, safety and sustainable development problems. 

InSTEDD’s work has ranged from implementing an appointment reminder system for HIV/AIDS patients in Cambodia to supplying maternal child health workers with live-saving text messaging information in Mexico. At the policy level, they advise organizations like the UN, WHO, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on the strategic implementation of health information systems and collaboration technology ventures.

Last Wednesday, Nicolás taught a group of Internewsers - many without a technical background, like me! - how to use InSTEDD’s mBuilder to create a powerful, scalable, and flexible SMS application. Using the scenario of a journalist looking to create SMS alerts about breaking news, Nicolás walked us through, step-by-step, the creation of triggers and channels about topics like sports and the economy. Among other cool things, he also showed us how to schedule timed SMS alerts, how to ensure that SMS messages could only be sent or received by verified numbers, and how to set up an application that would work offline or on a local Android phone. While mBuilder is still in development, you can register for an account now and InSTEDD will send you a notification when the tool is ready for use.

The Hangout was our very first hands-on, practical exercise that left many Internewsers feeling empowered with a new skill. We hope you find it as useful as we did!