Freedom Fone version 1.6 is now available. This version builds on existing core features and adds some useful new functionality.
A language switcher now makes it easy to translate the user interface into English, Swahili or Spanish. In September, when we have our localization interface in place, we will invite volunteers to translate the GUI into additional languages. It is now really simple to export audio files, including voice messages received through the leave-a-message component. Another valuable simplification, addresses the need for callers to be able to leave a voice message by simply ending their call. The original functionality, which required callers to explicitly save their voice messages by pressing a designated number, is still available for organisations that wish to use it. System reporting has been improved with the inclusion of a report that details the duration of each call to the service. This version is being ported to Ubuntu 10.04 and will be released as Version 1.6.5 LTS in September. This will be the stable long term support version for the current feature set. Additional functionality will be incorporated into Version 2.0 due in October 2010. There’s lots more to come, but you should definitely get going with Version 1.6 NOW!
Tariro on Top continues to be one of Kubatana’s most successful deployments of Freedom Fone to date. The call-in audio soap opera, deals with sexual harassment in the workplace in an entertaining yet informative manner. In just over a month there have been 1752 calls from 1102 unique numbers, with an average of 46 calls per day. 70% of these calls were made from mobile phones and the remainder from landlines. Tariro on Top, the first episode in the edutainment series, comprises of five 2 minute episodes. The average call length into the service has been over 2 minutes, with most callers listening to at least the first full episode. In Zimbabwe, where mobile calls cost US$0.25 a minute and where unemployment hovers around 94%, this is a significant achievement for a cost-to-caller service of this kind. In terms of marketing, the SMS campaigns advertising the service created dramatic spikes in call volumes. Interestingly, the distribution of free, postage paid postcards seemed to attract more determined callers who appeared to navigate through the voice menus more thoroughly. If you are in Zimbabwe, try out Tariro whilst it’s still live by calling 0913 444 321 up to 8. For international callers, dial +263-913-444321 up to 8. Alternatively review the audio files at http://www.kubatana.net/html/archive/artcul/100628inzwa.asp?inzwa=inzwa§or=ARTCUL
Since the public launch of version 1.5 six months ago, there have been over 230 downloads of the software from the website, hundreds of email enquiries and thousands of visits to the demo site from over 3000 different locations worldwide. The diverse spectrum of individuals and organisations who have downloaded the software cover a wide spectrum of potential usage scenarios: reaching out to ethnic refugees, sending reminders to pregnant mothers, communicating with indigenous arts communities, providing information services for remote musicians, helping victims of xenophobic violence, interacting with parents and school children from disadvantaged communities, providing support to sexual health workers, preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS and audio journalism from the field.