Gabriela Gutierrez
Greg Borenstein
Paul Paradiso
Zachary Taylor


A tool for rapid surveying of local conditions by text message with incentives for participation.

Design for UNICEF

Sitting in front of our laptops in New York, we take for granted how easy it is to find information about the world around us: information that allows us to respond to crises, direct food and resources, and even know something as basic as which roads are passable and which are not.

In Uganda, or Malawi, or most of Sub-Saharan Africa, this information would be incredibly valuable to organizations providing aid, but in many cases it is inaccessible because it exists only as individual facts dispersed among large populations.

While some of this information could be discovered through conventional surveys, much of it is time sensitive and our ability to respond effectively to crises depends not only on whether data can be collected, but also on whether it can be collected quickly.

Our project aims to collect this information in a timely manner by making use of already existing cell phone networks to turn the untapped collective knowledge of a country into actionable information.

To do this, we will poll users with significant questions via SMS and reward responders with additional cell phone credit, allowing us to ask any question whose answer is more valuable than a couple of text messages. In doing so, we hope to open a new range of possible aid opportunities based on information that was previously unavailable.
UNICEF has already demonstrated a clear and steady commitment to gathering timely information and using that information to shape its policy, for example through the Global Impact and Vulnerability Alert System.

Through our project, we have tried to explore a similar avenue by looking into previously inaccesible dimensions of a small number of people's daily lives.

We believe that the possible uses for inexpensive and rapid surveying comprise a broad and exciting range of possibilities.