Bulk messaging, google, group messaging, india, sms, Text Message
Google Labs in India recenty launched SMS Channels, a new, free SMS messaging service for India only that may prove to be incredibly useful for citizen groups and NGOs. The service allows anyone to set up a group of mobile subscribers to message to, or for a group to message each other many-to-many. A user can receive news alerts and blog updates via SMS, for example; or a group can group-text message to each other.
There are many commercial group messaging solutions in India where the primary means of mobile communiations is SMS. However, unlike GupShup, Zook, and MyToday, Google’s SMS channel is two-way allowing for SMS discussions and also enabling subscribers to publish to the channel.
What does this mean for citizen media and NGO groups in India? A quick look at the many SMS groups already formed, shows that national, local news and citizen media organization have been quick to take advantage of Google's SMS Channel. International news outfits such as Reuters, the BBC, and CNN India maintain news channels, and many Indian newspapers, TV stations, and other news outlets are represented as well.
We have seen other interesting examples elsewhere that would be able to use SMS Channels -- Project Zumbido comes to mind, for example. The Projec, a pilot that ended due to the high costs of sending SMS, connected women with HIV/AIDS through SMS group texting for support and advice. Zumbido was hugely successful in demonstrating the huge potential to improve the quality of life of those living with HIV/AIDS by simply connecting those affeced, creating community and an instant support network.
We are looking forward to examples of NGOs using SMS Channels in India and will be watching how Google is rolling out this service in other parts of the world.
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