During our field visits, we made a stop at the Wayamba Agriculture Exhibition. There we met Tharanga for a quick chat. Amazingly, the Sri Lanka Department of Agriculture has taken some of the lessons from the project run 2012 October Kandy workshop.
Mobitel, a leading incumbent mobile telco, is building a software similar to FrontlineSMS but possibly with additional customized features such as with quick filtering of information. The patrons, namely farmers, will naturally pay 25 cents when they send a text message to DOA seeking advise. Mobitel is investing their resources in developing the software anticipating a return on the SMS traffic from the farmers. Additionally, DOA will purchase a bulk SMS package from Mobitel to deliver messages.
My understanding is that the initial build is to support the Farm Broadcasting Service (FBS). The designers have interacted in a very minor scale with the FBS staff. The top-down approach might be lacking a collaborative community centric agile development approach. Our literature survey supports the idea that rapid piloting to really determine the customer requirements, functional requirements, design parameters, process variables, and constrained, helps remove complexities and develop a robust system.
SSHRC-PDG comes in at the right time with capacity to Rapid Prototype (RaP) some of their requirements. RaP ideology is that prior to a National scale development, the ICT intervention should go through a virtual, then actual rapid protyping phase. We could justify that the Kandy Workshop was somewhat of a virtual prototyping, where as the pilot we run in October onwards would be actual rapid protyping exercises.
It may be worthwhile identifying some of the DOA expectations in relation to advisory services and any synergies with what we are doing. Tharanga, in a subtle way, agreed to help implement a pilot. Thereafter, we can feed some of those pilot findings to the DOA policy-maker, in a friendly way, to help them with taking their vision toward productization and branding.
To that end, Helen's team is challenged with understanding the social practices of the radio listeners and broadcaster. Then supply a set of simple use case scenarios for the SSHRC PDG RaP team to jointly pilot. One such use case may be complementing the “advisory services” interlinking the broadcasters with the farming communities.