Freedom Fone

Design your service

Now that you know your audience's needs and you have an idea of where your information sources are coming from, it's time to design the architecture of your service. Freedom Fone software makes available a variety of components to help you interact with your audience. You can build your Freedom Fone Service out of a combination of any number of these components (see sections Real life examples and Other possible scenarios for examples of how others have used these components to create their Freedom Fone Services):

  • Leave-a-message (LAM) - The LAM function is an effective way of establishing two-way communication with your callers. With the Leave-a-message function the caller can leave a question, comment or report in audio form on your Freedom Fone system. Audio messages enable your callers to express themselves more freely and Freedom Fone captures those messages without loss of meaning or character. The content left by your callers can be played and listened to from the Freedom Fone interface. In addition to being a platform for leaving questions, the Leave-a-message service can be useful as an alert platform for callers to alert you to issues that need your attention. Content left by callers can also be re-used, for example you could select 5 stories submitted for a competition using LAM, re-broadcast these and allow the public to vote for their favourites. Voice messages can also be downloaded from Freedom Fone as MP3 files. (For more information see the Leave-a-message chapter in Setting up)
  • Voice Menus - enable you to create an information tree which your callers can navigate through with the aid of dialling keys on a telephone keypad. You can imagine a voice menu as a grouping of similar content which you would like your callers to access. Each content item in your menu will be linked to a unique digit on your telephone keypad. The process of embedding voice menus within existing voice menus, which we call nesting, allows you to extend your information tree and hence provide more content to your callers. It's worth noting that multilingual services can be created by linking voice menus. (For more information see the Voice menus chapter in Setting up)
  • Incoming SMS - allows you to receive ordinary SMS messages and view them in a reader friendly interface. Through the Freedom Fone interface you can then export the SMSs into any content management service of choice. Freedom Fone does not have the functionality for you to send SMSs. There are already several tools available to send SMSs effectively and integration with one of these tools, FrontlineSMS, is on the agenda for 2012.
    (For more information see the Incoming SMS chapter in Setting up)
  • Polls - A simple and fast way to measure opinion on an issue is to conduct SMS-based polls. SMS polls enable your callers to respond to a structured question via an SMS response. As the SMSs arrive on the Freedom Fone system the individual SMSs are tallied and a summarized tabular output is generated. In scenarios which need urgent action but yet rely heavily on evidence-based information to take the first step, SMS polls can be a powerful and effective tool.
    (For more information see the Polls chapter in Setting up)

Sketching it out on paper

One of the best ways to get an idea of how these components fit together as building blocks in your Freedom Fone Service is to draw it out on paper. (For an example of how Voice Menus can be organized into a service see chapter Voice Menus in the Setting up section).

Putting your ideas on paper is helpful because several people can work together, it's easy to illustrate your ideas and can help simplify and clarify the creation of your service.

In our experience, you need an operational staff member or volunteer to maintain the system. Ideally, their roles should be thought of as an outreach officer to your audience.

Resources they will need:

  • Time to manage the Freedom Fone Service
  • Mobile phone credit to coordinate with information sources
  • Email and web access
  • Travel allowances to meet with audience and stakeholders
  • Simple audio recorder
  • Computer access to
    • Edit and produce Voice Menus
    • Check Leave-a-message recordings from callers
    • Check Incoming SMS

For more information see chapter Staffing your Service.

How often to update your information?

See the chapter: Organise your staff.

Plan to refine your service

Your Freedom Fone Service is a continually evolving creation - as your audience grows and changes, so should your service. Conducting surveys with some of the "top callers" who use your service frequently can be an excellent way to get insight into what people like about your service - consider consulting your top callers when you are ready to make some changes to your service. Call data records (CDR) and Freedom Fone's inbuilt System data can provide you with comprehensive statistics that will give you an idea of how people are using your system. See the chapter on Monitoring and Evaluation for further information on this topic.