Nangarhar Media Office: Collecting and Disseminating Information

Dec 21, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Culture and Tech  //  No Comments

Nan­garhar Governor’s Media Office uses sim­ple tech­nol­ogy to gather infor­ma­tion and secu­rity updates and to dis­sem­i­nate that, if/when needed. Nan­garhar province in the east­ern Afghanistan has 22 dis­tricts and every morn­ing, the media office calls the dis­trict gov­er­nors and get updates on secu­rity sit­u­a­tion in their dis­tricts. They use a notepad to jot down any notes dur­ing their tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion with the dis­trict gov­er­nors. They always check with the provin­cial direc­tor of National Secu­rity Direc­torate (NDS) to make sure that the infor­ma­tion and fig­ures are accu­rate.
The office emails their daily provin­cial reports to every­one in the governor’s office but since a lot of the ben­e­fi­cia­ries don’t have access to the Inter­net they have to print the reports and give every employee a hard copy. In addi­tion to that, they also call the local and inter­na­tional jour­nal­ists in the area and brief them with any new inci­dents reports. So that the jour­nal­ists can then fol­low up on those sto­ries. There is a lit­tle phone book that has the phone num­bers of jour­nal­ists in it and they carry it with them around.
Also they call them when there before inau­gu­ra­tion cer­e­monies or other spe­cial events if the jour­nal­ists would want to cover the event and report. The media office call them, usu­ally a day or so ahead of the event.
Nan­garhar media office has a con­fer­ence hall that they use for press con­fer­ences and it also serves as a room for jour­nal­ists to drink tea and work on their reports. There are one or two com­put­ers for the media office use only. Most jour­nal­ists come here with their note­books to write and edit reports and then they dig­i­tize that some­where else later.

My team is help­ing Nan­garhar Media Office with a spe­cial SMS sys­tem that will make their work much eas­ier. We’re work­ing together with Pay­wast, which is a SMS social and busi­ness net­work­ing com­pany in Afghanistan to make SMS groups for the media office. There will be dif­fer­ent groups (for exam­ple, journos’ group or dis­trict gov­er­nors’ group) and each group will have mem­bers and an admin/owner. If the media office, which is the admin of the group send a mes­sage to the jour­nal­ists group, every­one will receive it. Then if the jour­nal­ists want to send a mes­sage back only the admin receives it. So it’s an inter­ac­tive group that takes them one text mes­sage to get a report to every­one in a cer­tain group. The owner of the group (the media office in this case) can add/remove mem­bers from the group. Once the group is up and work­ing they no longer have to carry that phone book with them. They can send/receive mes­sages from their web inter­face or right from mobile phone.
Inno­va­tion and Sup­port to Emer­gen­cies, Dis­eases and Dis­as­ters (InSTEDD) uses a sim­i­lar tech­nol­ogy called GeoChat for real-time group com­mu­ni­ca­tion. GeoChat is an open source group com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy that lets team mem­bers inter­act and main­tain shared geospa­tial aware­ness of who is doing what where — over any device, on any plat­form, over any network.