The SPIDER ICT4D Cambodia Network project implements by the Open Development Cambodia supported by SPIDER together with the East West Management Institute (EWMI) funded by USAID began to initiate and facilitated ICT4D meetings in social advocacy every 4 months. The discussion-meeting platform has been opening not only to EWMI’s grant partners but to other CSOs/NGOs in order for them to share practical experiences, concerns and discuss how to use ICTs for making a better impact on their social advocacy projects.

In 2019, the last ICT4D in Social Advocacy meeting was held on the 20th of March and also presented the InSTEDD’s Verboice platform and thus, it was suggested/requested by participants to be further coaching/training on the aforementioned technology which is one type of the Interactive Voice Response system. Prior to the technology meeting, there was a follow up by designing pre-test training assessment on their expectations has taken place and submitted to ensure how many of them are interested and willing to use the platform after the training.

Why Verboice?

Verboice is an open-source platform that makes it easy to create and run a project that interacts via voice (IVR). InSTEDD iLab South East Asia has been supporting many partners’ community programs since 2012 utilized the platform. Verboice projects can start small and scale up, making it possible to improve lives even in communities previously closed off by literacy and technological barriers. Verboice is an ideal solution for reaching out to communities whatever their level of literacy or technological sophistication.

As per request, on Thursday 18th of July, 2019 at the InSTEDD office, the ICT4D Cambodia Network in collaboration with InSTEDD iLab SEA conducted the technology meeting further discussed the Verboice platform into development program/project. Thus, the meeting was also provided on how to design and apply IVR open-source platform “Verboice” to our social development organizations in assisting them to be able to use the technology for their community program.

8 organizations attended in the half-day training on Verboice platform and 2 other interested partners have been met individually to introduce the platform after seeing the call for interested organizations to join the technology meeting on the ict4dcambodia.org. These are include Community Empowerment and Development Team (CEDT), Youth Council of Cambodia (YCC), Media One, Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT), VBNK, Health Action Coordinating Committee (HACC), Cambodian Civil Society Partnership (CCSP), NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGOF), Melon Rouge Agency, and Community Development for Peace and Sustainability (CDPS), InSTEDD iLab SEA, and ICT4D Cambodia Network/ODC.

During the meeting, InSTEDD again introduced the Verboice platform, as well as sharing an example of the used case of using the Verboice project from small to large that InSTEDD has been worked with. More important than that, all the attendees have the opportunity to discuss the project they are considering to apply IVR technology and get advice from a technical project manager, InSTEDD. Thus, there were 2 groups divided and practiced in creating the call flow directly on the Verboice platform based on their selected context issues on the ground they are working with. This was a good example that could help them to understand and know-how to design the call flow on the platform.

Challenges of the technology

Separated group for design call flow Verboice
  • Though it is an open-source system (Free of charge to utilize the platform), there is a minimum requirement of having a digital literacy person to understand properly whether or not the system is work and recoding voice messages is taking much time.
  • Verboice is only work out to registering through the mobile operators. It sometimes takes time to register between the host organization and its mobile operators to be compliant with each mobile company in order to get the hotline number to be operated. However, It’s suggested and advised to SMART if there is a concern of any registration to the mobile operators as there is a cooperation between the InSTEDD and SMART.
  • It’s required a (small) monthly fee charged by the mobile operators. The charge is based on the scale of the phone call out and/or into the Verboice platform.
  • It was also a question concerning data security in regards to using the platform whether or not it safe if there is any sensitive project.

Follows up actions

As a result, 2 interested partners have requested a quotation and for further collaboration.

Separated group for design call flow Verboice
  • Melon Rouge Agency is creating an IVR & SMS disseminating plan for the campaign to end violence against children.
  • Community Development for Peace and Sustainability (CDPS) is currently preparing for next (3-5years) proposal strategy and therefore very interested to look for available ICTs to apply to its program to promote fair rice price while most of its target beneficiary are farmers dependent strongly on rice cultivation. There was further in-person meeting to discuss how to move on the next step collaboration as at the moment, CDPS has no extra budget to implement ICTs project. By the way, the network advised arranging 1-day training to CDPS’s IT staff once visit our technology partners so that they could have coached the Verboice how to design and develop. We will do support in terms of technical assistance to make sure that they could actually do it properly and accordingly if there is a will to use it.