RapidSMS is a SMS-based (text message) framework that manages data collection, complex workflows, and group coordination using basic mobile phones — and can present information on the internet as soon as it is received. So far RapidSMS has been customized and deployed with diverse functionality: remote health diagnostics, nutrition surveillance, supply chain tracking, registering children in public health campaigns, and community discussion.
RapidSMS was designed to be customized for the challenges of governments, multilateral, international- and non-government organizations, and development practitioners: working effectively in spite of geographical remoteness of constituents, limited infrastructure (roads, electricity), and slow data collection (due to paper-based records, slow courier systems, etc).
RapidSMS framework was created by programmers working directly on actual project implementations with end users — not by an isolated software firm working from specifications. The resulting software is practical, flexible, and simple enough to meet real world needs. RapidSMS is not constrained to any particular kind of mobile device: any mobile phone that can send and receive text messages can interact with RapidSMS.
End users never need a specific device or to install any software on their phone. RapidSMS is focused on commonly available, existing infrastructure to allow for replicability and scalability.
RapidSMS code is freely available under the New BSD license: anyone may modify and redistribute the code. Software developers from Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Canada, UK, and USA have contributed to the growing codebase. Nearly 200 software developers and implementers discuss RapidSMS on the RapidSMS mailing-list. The list’s online archives are a great way to become familiar with RapidSMS. More information for software developers can be found on the project wiki and documentation site.