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Frontline SMS is a FOSS tool which enables you to turn a laptop and mobile phone into a communications hub. With versions for Windows, Mac and Linux, you can use any computer to create messages offline that can then be sent via SMS to groups of people (such as library users).
The system can be used for automated processes (such as reminding library users when they have an overdue item) or for specific tasks (such as asking for feedback on a proposed new layout).
All you need to get started is a modem, which can be purchased for less than US$20. Because it operates over the mobile network, internet access is not needed, for the sender or receiver.
There is a Translation Manager feature which enables you to easily translate the software into your own language. Of course the SMS messages you send can be in any language, regardless of which language you are using for the operating system.
There are features such as automatic procedure triggering by keyword - i.e. when a SMS is received it can go direct into a database, onto a website, trigger an auto-reply email or add the user to a group.
On 24th April 2012 EIFL FOSS hosted a webinar on Frontline SMS. Presentations were given by Laura Walker Hudson of Frontline SMS' team in Nairobi, and Evgeniy Shestopal of Lugansk Gorky Library in Ukraine.
You can access the recording of the session here (if your connection is too intermittent to view the recording online, we can provide it to you as a Zip file to download and view offline - just contact simon.ball [at] eifl.net)
You can download Laura's presentation here
You can download Evgeniy's presentation here
More technical details on the EIFL FOSS Tools Page