Beginning in February 2013, passengers onFlashCast's smart-buses were prompted to send in SMS contributions with the topic: "A Peaceful, United Kenya".A real-time feed of these messages isinterspersedwith quotations from some of history's most famous advocates for peace.
This is aninitiativefrom FlashCast. We caught up with Flashcasts's Caine Wanjau on why they started this initiative.
Q: What was the main reason for having SMSs streamed live from passengers on buses?
C: To promote peace because people want a peaceful election - we just provided the platform for them. We realised that people were looking for a way through which they could share ideas and encouraging peace messages. Our platform also gives them visibility - when people see others text messages for peace on the screen , others are encouraged to also send in their messages.
The messages that are shown on the screens allow for engagement through the exchange of ideas and thoughts on peace via SMS. We have seen high engagement from passengers on the buses where we have installed these screens. Our partner on this was M.O.A Compliant buses - they let us do an initial pilot on three of their buses, letting us install screens on the buses plying Route 111. (Route 111 is the Ngong Road Route).
Why Ngong Road?
C: Oh, because we have been working out of the iHub, and wanted to easily access the panels incase of anything. We do plan on adding other routes - Westlands and Uthiru, as we improve our platform based on the feedback we've been getting.
Q: How Does It Work?
C: We have installed screens on buses. There's a short code on the screen to which commuters can text. Their text then appears on screen almost immediately. We have a panel on our end through which we moderate the texts. If there is anything which we feel is unsuitable, we block it. The whole process from sending the SMS, to the moderating panel to it appearing on screen is less than a minute.
How Have People Received it?
C: The response has been quite positive, especially in terms of the Peace SMSs that passengers send in. We've seen quite a couple of repeat respondents!
So, next time you're on a bus, which just happens to be on Route 111, and there happens to be a screen - why not send in your peace message?