SMS Networks n Symmetric Information

Imagine a world where every person is endowed with relevant information of opportunities and economic benefits!  SMS networks between users and organisations allow for the smooth streaming of information. Poverty sticken areas requires information about possible economic opportunities, and as mobile phones become even more affordable, users can tap on to a network and get relevant information seamlessly. An article reveals how this is done in Kalimantan, Indonesia.

In most economic models, we assume that players have perfect information to execute informed decisions. This concept may be converging after all these years!

Frontline SMS is an open source initiative that provides organisations the tools to overcome communication barriers. The ever-growing use of mobile phones in poverty sticken areas will allow local communities and local governments to send out important information to the locals, whether be it good or bad. In fact, in can be a 2-way street and users can send information back to dedicated agencies that collect information!

Collecting Data

Locals can feed back information regarding truancies in the area, to request for emergency services or even feedback on how their business is fairing! Why is this important? The lack of information in many 3rd world countries creates a major data bias for economists when they do their modelling. Hence, this method provides an avenue for a ‘bottom-up’ approach to collect data instead of a government official or private consultant going on the ground to collect the required information. Similar the census that most developed countries do every couple of years to collect important information.

Data Bias

Of course this is not a perfect system. There is a higher inherent risk for data to be biased and fiddled with. In fact, corruption may occur and data can be very mis-leading. However, consider a developed nation and their census, is there not already a risk for users to put down falsified and mis-leading information about themselves when their actions are not transparent? Ideally, the SMS network method may not be the best, but it is a start. -Trail and Error is the key to successful innovation.

Communicating in the Hierarchy

A previous post I wrote illustrates how SMS networks or mobile device information can turn into something more than just the provision for information. Access to information not only provides horizontal networks, but it may provide vertical networks and build awareness internationally. More often than not, we have large international organisations that seek to assit LDCs but do not have the proper contacts and are often ridiculed with middleman corruption. Vice Versa for SMEs and social entrepreneurs getting in contact with larger organisations. Slowly, but surely this gap can close and the world will be one step closer to symmetric information!