Magpi iSMS: Crowdsourcing and More!

Heard about iSMS?

If you haven’t heard, Magpi now has a variety of options to let you collect data via SMS, including iSMS (interactive SMS). In a previous post we talked about the basics of iSMS, but since then we’ve been brainstorming about how it can be used.

iSMS is like a conversation that Magpi has with someone, in a series of back-and-forth SMS messages:


An iSMS session can be initiated by a Magpi user, or by anyone else if they know the iSMS details.  And since it’s SMS-based, you don’t need to worry if the person providing the information is using a smartphone or not: iSMS doesn’t require smartphones, or app installations.


When is iSMS useful?

Magpi iSMS is useful for:

  1. Crowdsourcing: getting info from the public
  2. When you can’t or don’t want to use an app

Let’s think of some possibilities for each…


1. Crowdsourcing: getting info from the public

iSMS is a great tool to get feedback from the public.   But, since you don’t know in advance who will respond, you’ll need to find a way to let them know the process for sending their information in.  Typically, this could be a sign in a public place:



but a tweet, blog, or other method works, too.

Tweet about a Magpi poll


2. You can’t, or don’t want to, use an app when you don't want to, or can't, use an app

If the people you’d like to get information from (or provide information to)  can’t or won’t use apps, iSMS gives you the chance to talk to them using the familiar technology of SMS texting.  Imagine you’d like to get people living in a poor neighborhood — or a poor country — to report things in their city that need to be fixed:



What would YOU do with iSMS?

Of course, there are a million other possibilities for iSMS.

  • You could find out who on your staff is planning to attend an event, and if they’re bringing someone.
  • You can learn what public services are being used.
  • You can solicit input on a new project.
  • You can discover what brand of shampoo is most popular.
  • You can ask employees to report instances of problems in the workplace.
  • You can require stock clerks in remote areas to fill out an iSMS form each week to verify supply levels.
  • You can follow up with parents of children who’ve received insecticide-treated bednets to find out if they’re using them.
  • You can let the public vote on a new policy.

We can’t wait to see the creative things you come up with!


For more information on iSMS, check out our support materials:

Introduction to SMS data collection with Magpi

Video: collecting data by SMS with Magpi

Entering data by SMS versus by using the Magpi apps

Video: Intro to interactive SMS (iSMS)

How to create an interactive SMS form with Magpi

How to deploy an Interactive SMS Form with Magpi


Automate Supervision with Magpi

With the power of Magpi and Zapier and Google, you can easily create a system that reviews and reacts to your field data in real-time. Track data collectors' progress and speed, notify supervisors by email or SMS, all with no programming.

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