Frontline SMS is a free open source software developed by the Social Impact Lab to enable SMS management tools that can reach over three billion people through the
phone in their pocket. In just a few years it has quickly become the world’s most popular text messaging software and it is completely free and open source. It can work without an internet connection and with only a cell phone and computer.
The software was originally developed in 2005 for conservationists to keep in touch with communities in Kruger National Park in South Africa. More recently it was used by the Network of Mobile Election Monitors to oversee the Nigerian and Afghan presidential elections, as well as in disaster response in Haiti and the Philippines.
FrontlineSMS and its sister organizations are also improving the provision of healthcare in developing countries, where bad roads, long distances, and a shortage of healthcare workers make delivering care difficult. Community health workers use FrontlineSMS:Medic to transmit information about symptoms and follow up with patients much more quickly and efficiently. When FrontlineSMS:Medic was first introduced in one area of Malawi, the local hospital doubled the number of tuberculosis patients treated over six months, while saving 2,100 hours in travel and work time and $3,500 in costs. The software is now being used in 11 countries, mostly in sub Saharan Africa.