RapidSMS is a data tracking tool that collects and collates real-time information using Short Messaging System (SMS) or .Text messaging. for practical analyses, which enables expedited informed decisions, consensus building and response.
RapidSMS uses the familiar mobile telephone.s SMS to send data on various projects from any and every possible location in Nigeria and is capable of simultaneously domiciling this data in a central location (a dedicated and secure website) where project stakeholders, program managers and critical decision makers can access such vital data for action, monitor campaigns in real time, coordinate field activities, and analyze data.
RapidSMS was piloted in the first phase of the 70 million Long Lasting Insecticidal-treated Nets (LLINs) distribution campaign of the National Malaria Control Programme in Kano and Anambra states in 2009, to capture data of commodities from the state stores to the Local Government Area (LGA) and distribution points using logisticians in 21 selected LGAs and 4 pilot LGAs for mobilization and distribution of nets. And in Borno State, RapidSMS was introduced minimally in June 2009, during the Immunization Plus Days (IPD) of the polio eradication initiative of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency in 2 pilot LGAs. It was also used to track and respond to non-compliance with reasons, vaccine shortages, and number of children not-immunized, as well as capturing data of the number of children immunized.
Similarly, RapidSMS has been deployed in Sokoto and Kebbi States during the Maternal, New born and Child Health Weeks - an integrated approach at delivering high impact interventions to mother and child, held in December 2009 capturing Total Net-Cards distributed and redeemed, children immunized for the various antigens, as well as non-compliance scenarios where they arose.
RapidSMS comes bundled with a large collection (and growing) of user contributed applications that provide a lot of the out-of-the box functionality. It is based on open source software, which means it can be customized and improved with time. It is a suite of different products all created from the same underlying pieces of computer code. Each one crafted to solve a specific problem. The underlying code-base being open-source, permits anyone to build their own tools, and is designed to be customized for the varied needs and constraints of UNICEF and the developing world.
With the RapidSMS web interface, multiple users from around the world can simultaneously access the system to view incoming data as it arrives, export new data-sets, and send text messages to users. Being "open-source" software RapidSMS is free to download, use, and modify.
RapidSMS leverages popular programming languages, and thus is easily integrated into existing ICT systems. RapidSMS ensures data collection, logistics coordination and communication allowing any mobile phone to interact with the web via SMS text messages and has addressed the delays caused by the paper-based system. Besides the obvious advantage of speed and quality of data, the system also creates spreadsheets and graphs, allowing for easy interpretation of the data.