Using SMS and technology trends to reach rural, underserved communities
Reach via phone
There are thousands of people across the world who are unreachable because of their geographic location, access to employment, and lack of funds. Luckily there is one piece of technology that almost everyone in the world has access to. Irrespective of location, employment status, and funds. That is the humble 160-character SMS. It’s possibly not the most technical solution you might have thought of, but it’s one that certainly gets the job done. We’ll explore how technology trends – particularly text messaging – can be used to impact the lives of these people.
A major issue facing the unreachable is that they are, in fact, unreachable. It isn’t easy to leave their small towns and villages to reach the resources of bigger cities. Visiting doctors and dentists, lawyers, and financial advisers, for example, is just not possible. Also, consider elderly patients with mobility challenges.
Telemedicine makes the difference between talking to a doctor and receiving treatment, or not at all. It’s in these moments that technology trends and emerging technologies, like the kind available via a mobile phone, can be immensely helpful.
Skype consultations and SMS conversations have revolutionized the way people in remote areas can access information which was once completely out of their reach.
People in rural regions often cannot open a bank account. Consider the last time you opened an account. You likely had to provide proof of identification, proof of address, and possibly a minimum balance. Those are just not realistic for the unreachable. This is where using SMS, USSD technology, and mobile phone banking make it much more simple. Because SMS works on just about every mobile phone, no matter how “smart” it is, this becomes a simple way for just about everyone to transact. If you’re a business doing work in underserved areas, it makes sense to offer other non-traditional payment options.
If you’re in the business of providing food packs to these underserved communities, you’ll know that often the biggest challenge is delivering that food. It would be unfortunate for such a seemingly simple step in the process to stymie otherwise good intentions. Think about it. You’ve raised funding and found an affordable provider of the goods needed to create these packs. Transporting them to rural areas can be a massive challenge. Drone technology could be the answer. Drones could also bring medical supplies to these areas. Consider areas with no roads – they’ve either never existed or been destroyed in a natural disaster like an earthquake or a flood. Either way, those communities are cut off and need supplies.
The sharing of documents and information is incredibly important. This is true for Fortune 500 companies in the big city and in small rural villages. Medical and legal documents can be shared across time zones and class divides. Cloud computing makes it possible for these important files to be transferred at the click of a button. Internet connectivity dependent, of course. Innovation is everywhere and no doubt gives businesses the competitive advantage.
Technology trends for emergency relief and rescue
We’ve discussed how valuable drones can be to deliver food and medication to those in need in emergency natural disaster situations. But they’ve proved useful in other, less natural, areas. Consider the recent rescue of a soccer team from a remote cave in Thailand. Thermal cameras and aerial drones all formed part of the rescue team. In addition, radios usually used by firefighters battling massive blazes were brought in to assist with communication issues. Without these new technologies and tools, there’s no doubt that the end to that saga would have been entirely different.
If your interest in some of these technology trends is piqued and you’d like to find out how your business can make use of them, read our recent article about more current and upcoming trends that you should be aware of. Your business might not be involved in a Thai cave rescue, but that doesn’t mean your business’ SMS messages won’t radically impact someone, somewhere. We’re living in a digital world, after all. All of the leading companies are embracing technology to make their and their customers’ lives easier. Embrace tech trends, including the simple, easy-to-use SMS message, and you’ll get to watch your business flourish.