What does Cell Alert/FrontlineSMS offer?

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I.  What does Cell Alert/FrontlineSMS offer?

Cell Alert/FrontlineSMS empowers people in poor areas by providing alerts on anything they want to track. Whenever our online searches find useful information, we forward alerts alerts through cell phone or email that lets users act in response to humanitarian crises, genocide, economic aid, medical supplies, loans, and agricultural market trends.

II.  Our origins and development

Cell Alertâ„¢ was launched as a non-profit service as a response to difficulties encountered by refugees coming to the Washington D.C. area from many different African countries.

Israel Kloss, Cell Alert's founder,  followed the suffering in Southern Sudan and now in Western Sudan (Darfur) for close to a decade, creating a informational web site and writing about the horrors there.  His engagement moved to a higher level after finding a local group of Sudanese refugees resettled by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees resettlement program.  

To help ease their resettlement, Kloss began using a search program that his business partner developed to locate and facilitate the instant claiming of free used computers that are given away on the Internet. He used the system to gather and distribute about 30 computers  local refugees already.

Cell Alertâ„¢ was born through this action. "At the time I told my business partner about how I was using his program," Kloss recalls, "we immediately saw great potential for it in many different charitable ways. We decided that the tremendous potential of Cell Alertâ„¢ should be available to the world in order to help as many people as possible to share their excess with others or to meet their own needs."

The range of donations located and delivered through Cell Alert expanded after a friend of Kloss's, who works on behalf of a housing project in Southeast Washington D.C., told him that many refugee families were sharing a single dresser for as many as family members.  

Again, Cell Alertâ„¢ proved able to help them.  "Since I had nicely furnished entire parts of my house with high quality free items from the Internet, I decided to buy an inexpensive truck and to pick up some nice furnishing items and bring them to others," said Kloss. "So far, I have taken 5 truckloads of beds, dressers, tables, futons, bookshelves, chairs, and couches. So, if you are in need of something or if you are ready to give back to the many people worse off than you on earth, then Cell Alertâ„¢ is for you."

Cell Alert moved to a new level of development. In 2008, at the NetSquared 2008 Mashup Challenge, Kloss was approached by Peter Deitz of Social Actions, double winners of two challenges last year. "We caught his vision for Social Actions and wanted to help," he recalls.  "For instance, if you only want to receive alerts when the keyword "education" pops up on Social Actions, this is the tool for you!"

This led to the creation of Social Actions Alerts — a system that monitors all postings available at socialactions.com . Social Actions Alerts filters and targets of your causes and interests by keyword sent direct to your email and cell phone.

During subsequent field tests in El Salvador and Pakistan, CellAlert gained a further capability, with FrontlineSMS, to route alerts through cell phone SMS messages as well as email. Local allies testing the integrated service confirmed its ability to  --

  • Deliver market prices of agriculture products to farmers outside internet access; and

  • Deliver regional job alerts to Pakistini subscribers.

Based on these successes, Cell Alert/FrontlineSMS in recent months has added new allies and partners.  Openworld, Inc., a nonprofit organization that offers microscholarships and "seeds of change" resources through the Internet, has joined to bring Cell Alert/FrontlineSMS solutions to entrepreneurial schools in Africa and Asia. TxtEagle.com has confirmed its willingness to deliver targeted alerts to networks of freelancers interested in microjobs in online markets.  The Internet Bar Organization is also interested in seeing notices of online mediation and alternative dispute resolution brought via Call Alert/FrontlineSMS to grassroots organizations in conflict-riven areas of the world.

III. How you can beta test Cell Alert/FrontlineSMS

Cell Alert has  chance to experience how easy it is to help yourself and others when you use Cell Alertâ„¢ to do it! We hope you will share Cell Alertâ„¢ with your friends, family and coworkers and please tell us how you use it and how we can make it better (click HERE to give feedback).

We hope Cell Alertâ„¢ helps you find what you need and serves you in reaching out with a kind gesture of goodwill to others.

Nonprofit organizations anywhere in the world are welcome to beta test our service.  You can do this with a simple signup process.

1.  Go to http://cellalert.org/user/register and use the login of betatester and password betatester01. When asked, please enter an email that you regularly use (we promise you will only get 5 alerts per day unless you specify more).  We'll then send you a confirmation with the information you need to log in.

2.  Once you've received the confirming email, click on the link to go to our web site.  Enter the log-in information on the left side of web page.

3.  Now — define your alerts!  If you want to track information on available grants for nonprofits, you can do so by --

-  Under "Tools for Non-Profits", select "Grant Alerts"
-  Type in "Non-profit grant" to be sure you will get a number of alerts in the first 24 hour period. (Note: you can later change the keyword to narrow the daily search in whatever way will be most useful.)
-  Look for your first alert(s) within 1-24 hours.

(For more information, see http://cellalert.org/node/110 )

IV.      Blog Update

The Cell Alert team has some exciting new developments!

1) Cell Alert is currently working with Usahidi to integrate with our source code with the Ushahidi project in order to enable bi-directional SMS keyword-matching responses and notifications, expanding on their current crisis crowdsourcing services.

2) We've joined the Swift App (www.swiftapp.org <http://www.swiftapp.org> ) development team to expand on its crisis meme API and information overload filtering collaboration between developers from Ushahidi.com, Meedan.net, Instedd.org, Google.org, Younoodle.com, Mapufacture.com and other developers of emerging "Semantic Web."

2a) When the Mumbai bombing happened, Twitter lit up with memes (an idea or value or pattern of behavior that is passed from one person to another by non-genetic means)   and viral re-tweets (signified by the letters RT followed by an @ symbol (a twitter representation of the source of a meme) and then the twitter handle (e. g. RT @cellalert: We're headed to San Jose!).

Those Tweets (120 character small comments by people worldwide) gave essential cues to the nature of the bombing, impending threats, recovering locations, emergency response methods, etc. And there arose an organic leadership of authoritative trusted sources called "digital curators" (see http://www.micropersuasion.com/2008/02/the-digital-cur.html).   Those "digital curators" arose organically and became followed based on their authoritative body of knowledge about the situation in Mumbai and about the city itself and the people affected.

The resulting instant information distribution began to be tracked and noticed by the founders of SwiftApp.org and their vision for an organic, trust-based crisis information vetting and alert tool came together.  

V.  Contact information

Cell Alert welcomes local and global partners to bring the system to its next stage of development.  Please email israel@cellalert.net  -- we look forward to working with you!