From Ken Banks came news today of how mobiles phones and SMS were helping vital information flows in a country under draconian military rule, both within communities in the country as well as with locals and the international community.
Added to the fears that the internet may be taken offline in the weeks ahead (this hasn’t happened in Pakistan yet) and the growing concerns over the clampdown of independent media in Pakistan, a coalition of various non-profit organizations, left-wing political parties, NGOs and human rights organizations, labour and trade-union federations, academics, students, and concerned citizens was formed as an umbrella group to resist the ‘emergency’ in Pakistan. It was decided to deploy SMS to aid efforts in getting factual/accurate information flowing in a two-way manner for the people by the people, from reliable sources embedded in various locations to the masses and those concerned overseas. This information was designed to feed to and from international sources, such as student-organized peace rallies and movements in places like Washington DC and national marches by the ABA (American Bar Association) to the Supreme Court of the US, to events in the UK and elsewhere, as well as collect messages of support from leaders of parties. With the use of print or traditional broadcast media out of the question, the groups turned to text messaging. Not only is SMS accessible by citizens in Pakistan, it also provides a channel to report and provide information to others overseas.
Read the full case study on the Frontline SMS website here.