How SMS technology has changed the world for thousands of people in India’s rural areas

Nowadays, we can not imagine how life looks like without access to internet and telecom. Using the internet and telecom is learned to use by our parents, teachers and by finding out ourselves. For instance, it’s a common practice that we transfer money to one another through an app on our phone and that we check the weather before we leave the house.

 In countries such as India and especially the rural area’s of India, mobile telephony and the internet are not so widespread and access to it is very limited. More than half of the Indians does posses a cell phone and only uses the basic functions such as texting and calling. Technology has advanced so quickly, but for this part of the population the means are not available to take advantage it. Reasons for this may be that the costs are to high, cell towers do not reach so far, there is not enough electricity to charge the devices or simply because of the lack of knowing how to use a mobile phone.

 What we can see arising these days is the emergence of functions that the western world is currently using, applied to the technology of ten years ago. The applications are very widespread, from giving farmers farming advice to notifying the labor force of job opportunities and even educating citizens and sharing views on topics is done via calls and texts.

 One of my favorite applications is one giving mothers access to healthcare aid and information. Through Interactive Voice Response (the technology behind the annoying choice menu’s, when you try to contact your bank, for example), women can consult doctors that can give them the appropriate aid and advice. Through cell phones, it is also possible to find the exact location of these women, so that if necessary help can be guided to the right direction. The system also provides benefits to the government itself, as the mothers have the ability to register themselves and their newborns, providing them with additional demographic information. The government will also be able to track the births, the deaths and their possible causes, to improve their services.

It is nice to see how innovations can still occur in technologies that are basically worn out by the western world. And I am very curious what will follow next. Which technology – written of by the western world – can improve the lives in the rural areas in India?

PS: Did you know that merely one third of the Indian population in the rural areas has access to a toilet as opposed to more than the half of these citizens possessing a cell phone.




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