PeaceTXT uses mobile technology to intervene in areas at risk of outbreaks of violence, directly contacting people in these regions with pro-peace SMS messages.
The project, the result of a collaboration between partners across the globe, looks to stop violence before it starts, encouraging people in at-risk areas to think twice about resorting to violence by sending an SMS to their phone, detailing the damage that conflict can inflict and the benefits that arise from keeping the peace.
Run by PopTech, CureViolence, Kenyan NGO Sisi Ni Amani (We Are Peace), Medic Mobile, Ushahidi, Qatar Computing Research Institute and the Praekelt Foundation, the initiative came about based on CureViolence’s findings that outbreaks of violence occur in much the same way as outbreaks of infectious diseases do. CureViolence (formerly CeaseFire) uses this analogy to initiate multiple programs across the world that look to block the transmission of violence and treat those who have been ”infected”.
The project launched in Kenya in late 2011 and was particularly effective in helping to circumvent outbreaks of violence relating to the country’s 2013 presidential elections (head to qz.com for a detailed rundown of messages that were sent prior to and during the elections to prevent small-scale attacks from escalating into something bigger). The partners used Sisi Ni Amani’s local expertise and existing record in mobile messaging to promote peace as a foundation for their work, holding focus groups with locals in order to develop effective and tailored messages and going door-to-door to ask people to subscribe to the free service. To this end, PeaceTXT is able to send timely, targeted SMS messages to individual subscribers that are relevant to the recipient’s location, gender and demographics. By using mobile technology, the project allows the team to directly contact a wide number of people in a matter of seconds, enabling swift intervention in situations where timing can be critical.
Find out more about the project by visiting PopTech’s website or checking out the video below: