Niel Patel, the founding member of awaaz.de while studying in college spent first two years in India. Focus was on villages and to find out useful technology to make information services useful to rural people. He realized the need for the content to be localized in topic and language, to overcome literacy barriers, and to work with the lowest-end, simple mobile phone. That’s how Awaaz.De was born in 2010.
In rural areas, there are a small but significant group of people who are knowledgeable about various topics (agriculture, medicine, finance, etc.) who can greatly benefit their communities by sharing what they know; but there are very few platforms that allow them do that. These insights led to his dissertation on a mobile voice-based social platform for small farmers in Gujarat to access and share agricultural advice. It has now grown into revenue-generating company developing voice-based information services reaching tens of thousands of people through hundreds of thousands of phone calls.
After launching Awaaz.De, Neil Patel developed a number of different voice-based information services. Some organizations use Awaaz.De to set up voice-based information portals where they could upload voice content about their organization or initiative, have it organized into custom menus, and people can call a number to browse it. Like a voice analog to a website. Other organizations use Awaaz.De for data collection, deploying voice surveys over regular phone numbers where people enter touchtone and/or voice responses to multiple choice and open-ended questions about their farming practices, labour conditions, whether they are following a medical prescription, or anything else. Others use Awaaz.De for more interactive applications like question and answer services, discussion forums, and voice classified services. But across all these varied uses of Awaaz.De’s platform, there is a common functionality. People use Awaaz.De for a simple function of sending out recorded voice messages to a group of people through regular phone call. It’s like a Voice Twitter. You create a voice message group, and get members to join your group by adding them directly or having them call into your group’s unique phone number and make a join request. You then post voice messages over phone or web that group members receive through regular phone call. The voice broadcasts are interactive; group members receive the phone call voice message, and can send a response (voice or touchtone) right over the same phone call. All the responses are automatically organized and made available for you to access over the phone or web.
It is good to see such a variety of uses of Streams. It can be a useful tool for any individual or organization trying to reach disconnected people in a timely and effective way. And, because it’s voice, it has the added benefit of the human touch.