The United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has launched an open-source platform of applications that can help governments deliver rapid and vital real-time information and connect communities to lifesaving services called RapidPro.
The app, which is already been used in my countries according to UNICEF, was developed by UNICEF’s global Innovations Labs in collaboration with Nyuruka, a Rwandan software development firm, and drawing on eight years of experience with SMS-based applications.
Dr. Sharad Sapra, Director of UNICEF’s global Innovation Center based in Nairobi described the app as an ‘app store for good.’ According to him, “RapidPro is essentially an ‘app store for good.’ It gives governments and development professionals new tools they can customize to connect citizens and critical services – mainstreaming innovation and making it work for the most disadvantaged children.”
Application already available on the RapidPro platform include mHero (Mobile Health Worker Ebola Response and Outreach) – an application used to support efforts to fight the rising Ebola epidemic in Liberia, U-Report, an application that uses simple text messages and basic mobile phones to link people to the resources of the National AIDS Council in Zambia, among others.
According to UNICEF, RapidPro’s applications are produced by UNICEF in partnership with universities and software creators in response to the experience of humanitarian workers on the ground on the bottlenecks which hamper aid delivery. The applications are constantly updated as new challenges emerge.