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Diversifying the Global Conversation: Amplify Experiments With A New Prototype

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Here on OpenIDEO we are constantly inspired by the diverse conversations that take place around challenges and within our community. The more global our challenges become, the more we hope to enrich the conversation with real users’ voices. One of the main goals of the Amplify program is to expand challenge participation in new ways – such as by exploring what access looks like for communities with no or limited access to the internet. We are incredibly excited to think about what this means for the diversity of our community. 

To continue fulfilling this mission, Marika Shioiri-Clark and Shauna Carey, members of the Amplify Team, have gone back to India to prototype the use of radio and Interactive Voice Response IVR systems to invite a diverse set of users to join in the conversation around our Women’s Safety Challenge. Before they headed off for their trip to Delhi, they shared their goals for this project:

What is the purpose of this prototype?

One of our main goals during the research trip to India was to find ways to include communities with limited or no access to internet for Amplify challenges. We began with the assumption that SMS might be a viable medium to invite a diverse group of users to join in the conversation, but soon discovered that texting was not as widely used in India as we expected. Texting in non-roman characters is difficult on the simple feature phones that many people owned. Literacy rates and limited texting plans also limited the popularity of texting as a communication method. We also learned that many organizations reach out to their beneficiaries via radio and a few have used Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems to establish conversations with the communities they work with.

After the research trip, we decided to partner with Gramvaani, Breakthrough and a community radio staiton called Gurgaon Ki Awaz, three organisations in the Delhi area with experience using IVR, to test out a prototype that allows communities to engage with the OpenIDEO platform in a new way – such as exploring how to eliminate barriers around literacy and internet access. 

What’s exciting is that we aren’t reinventing the wheel – we are learning from technology that is already in use and has been proven successful in certain areas. 


How does the IVR system work? 

We plan to first raise awareness about the Women’s Safety Challenge and invite individuals to call into the IVR system through 30-second advertisements and a live radio show discussing topics related to women’s safety in Delhi. 

The IVR system works mainly via phone calls. There’s a specific phone number that people can call into and when they do, the server will hang up on them and then call back without the user incurring any charges. When the person receives the callback from the IVR server, she or he is invited to listen to a series of ideas from the Women’s Safety Challenge. Participants can also leave comments, which are translated into English and uploaded to a website. In essence this IVR prototype aims to recreate the OpenIDEO platform offline. 

Because this system has the potential to be global in scope, in future prototypes we hope to test it across multiple geographies. The great strength of OpenIDEO is its ability to foster deep collaboration across borders, and we want to replicate a similar spirit with our offline efforts so it feels cohesive – simply an extension of the OpenIDEO experience.


What questions are you hoping to answer with this prototype?

We hope to gain a deeper understanding of how this different medium would work with the OpenIDEO style of collaboration and participation. We’ll interview users to understand how we might strengthen the IVR system as a model for participation. We will be testing its usability, and asking questions such as: Do people understand it? How do things like the voice and accent used to record ideas affect its success? How will our audience respond to different promotional channels and where will this type of technology be most successful? 

This is a really exciting first step towards exploring new ways to bring global participation into the conversation. We will catch up with Marika and Shauna as soon as they get back to learn about their findings – so stay tuned! 

Listen to an archive of our first IVR broadcast, held live on April 23rd in Delhi (broadcast is in Hindi).


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OpenIDEO Experiments , Women's Safety Challenge


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