Friday, February 13, 2015

Interactive Voice Response for Radio Programs, a training workshop

A workshop was conducted to train the Rangiri media network staff on 02 Jan 2015. They were familiarizing with implementing the low cost IVR (Interactive Voice Response) solution for their Radio & TV programs. The Freedom fone (FF) free and open source telephony platform was used in this workshop.

Kasun Perera, a Software developer at Lanka Software Foundation, was the key resource person who conducted the training sessions at the workshop. He has quite familiar with the FF technology and has used the technology in other research work: use of IVR in crisis response and management. . We presented with an overview of the FF technology and then lead the participants through a hands experience with: installing the Freedomfone, setting up the USB dongle, creating voice menu and set up voice call functionally and SMS functionality separately.

Most interesting aspect was the ability to use USB dongles, for voice and SMS connectivity, with newest FF version 2.S.7. The use of dongles further reduces the cost compared with the relatively expensive Mobigator or OfficeRoute GSM modem. Moreover, FF could connect multiple USB dongles with different SIMs simultaneously with same voice menus and implementation.
Rangiri staff realized the cost benefits and incremental effectiveness they gain from this IVR system and are thrilled to use it firstly with their Radio programming before expanding on to TV. Now that they are trained and are competent with using FF, they will discuss the voice menu and content structure design with their radio programming personnel at Rangiri to roll out their first implementation.
We had previously introduced the FrontlineSMS text messaging technology to Rangiri. They were profoundly using the SMS technology to interact with their listener base. FF also has SMS messaging capabilities with polling function that allows for conducting surveys and simply receiving general text messages. However, it is relatively weaker, compared with FrontlineSMS, as it does not carry the "key word" functionality. Since FF has both voice call and SMS functionality, Rangiri would prefer using the same setup for their SMS & Voice based communication needs. However, we were technically challenged with applying the same key word and filtering with FF received SMS, unlike in FrontLineSMS.

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