Reflections on Social Innovation Camp Kosovo #3 -
Lesson learned: Poor labels undermine use of tech tools

For the continued improvements and standardization of the monitoring and evaluation of the Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition, a rapid, accurate and low cost RapidSMS tool is being developed to ensure the maximum benefit of provision of life saving interventions for children and adults.

The system uses the RapidSMS server application to send and receive program data via SMS to assure the validity of the data and regular reporting on stocks, program implementation activities and program personnel. The web-based dashboard for the project will allow visualization of data, automated analysis in tables and graphs, data quality review and identification of critical events for immediate response to prevent breakdowns in the program operations.

SAM (Severe Acute Malnutrition) reports dashboard. Source:
SAM (Severe Acute Malnutrition) reports dashboard. Source:

The RapidSMS system consists of either an internet gateway configured to a toll free number and server hosted on an cloud server or on a simple computer with the RapidSMS server application installed connected to a GSM router with a SIM card installed. The system must have 24 hour access to electricity and connection to the internet.

Health center personnel use their personal mobile phones to register and send data so there are no further hardware costs beyond the national level. Health center personnel are trained how to register their mobile phones and to send program data to the RapidSMS server. With each message received, a confirmation or error message will be sent to the sender. Viable data are saved in the database while poor quality data provokes a request for correction. If data are not sent on a regular basis, the health center staff will receive reminders to send data.

The SMSs are sent to the database via a toll free number so no costs will be taken on by the users of the system. UNICEF will ensure the cost of the inbound and outbound SMSs either through a Pro Bono agreement with a cell phone provider or a bulk SMS arrangement with the provider and /or related government body.

The system is designed to recognize critical events and immediately send warnings to those responsible to respond and their supervisors. The system will also produce regular reports to send via email or more appropriate technology to all program supervision staff from the national to district level.

Robert Johnston
Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF New York

You can follow Robert’s Nutrition RapidSMS blog here


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Reflections on Social Innovation Camp Kosovo #3 -
Lesson learned: Poor labels undermine use of tech tools