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(Redirected from Ken Banks)
Developer(s)Ken Banks
Stable release
Written inJava
PlatformCross-Platform (Linux, Microsoft Windows, macOS)

FrontlineSMS is a free open source software used by a variety of organizations to distribute and collect information via text messaging (SMS). The software works without an internet connection and with a cell phone and computer.


The software was originally developed in 2005 by Ken Banks for conservationists to keep in touch with communities in Kruger National Park in South Africa.[1] The 2.0 release is a deep redesign and is the first version to install a browser-based interface to the Java FrontlineSMS backend.


FrontlineSMS enables users to connect a range of mobile devices to a computer to send and receive SMS text messages. The software works without an internet connection by connecting a device such as a cell phone or GSM modem with a local phone number. FrontlineSMS can send and receive messages, group contacts, respond to messages, and trigger other events. If internet access is available, FrontlineSMS can be connected to online SMS services[2] and set up to feed incoming messages to other web or e-mail services. FrontlineSMS includes different features which enable messages to be filtered by keyword, or allows the submission of Java-based forms with FrontlineSMS Forms.

It has been used to monitor national elections in the Philippines, Afghanistan and Nigeria. For example, in April 2007 it was used by the Network of Mobile Election Monitors (NMEM) to oversee the 2007 Nigerian general election.[3] Volunteers with mobile phones sent back reports from election booths to a central hub in an effort to prevent vote rigging. A similar system was deployed to monitor the 2009 Afghan presidential election,[4] where it was combined with the crisis-mapping tool Ushahidi, to plot the reports on an online map.

After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, FrontlineSMS team members helped establish the 4636 Short Code through other related organizations (Ushahidi, InSTEDD) to allow people on the ground to report emergency information.[5]

FrontlineSMS and its sister organizations are also improving the provision of healthcare in developing countries, where bad roads, long distances, and a shortage of healthcare workers make delivering care difficult. FrontlineSMS:Medic uses the FrontlineSMS software to gather health data and assist in patient follow-up. Community health workers use FrontlineSMS:Medic to transmit information about symptoms and follow up with patients much more quickly and efficiently (by sending a text message rather than driving long distances over bad roads). When FrontlineSMS:Medic was first introduced in one area of Malawi, the local hospital doubled the number of tuberculosis patients treated over six months, while saving 2,100 hours in travel and work time and $3,500 in costs.[6] The tool is now being used in 11 countries, mostly in sub Saharan Africa.[7] In June 2010, FrontlineSMS:Medic team released a public beta of PatientView, which allows hospitals to manage patient information in rural settings where there is no Internet access.[8] The FrontlineSMS:Medic team is also working on a monitoring system to capture symptoms across different languages and spellings and detect disease hotspots, and are working with a researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles to develop an addition that would allow remote diagnosis of malaria and some sexually transmitted diseases, including potentially HIV.[9]


FrontlineSMS is licensed under the LGPL. The licensing is defined on the software's SourceForge page.[10]


  1. ^ "FrontlineSMS".
  2. ^ "High Quality and cheap SMS Gateway -". Retrieved 2021-09-02.
  3. ^ "Texts monitor Nigerian elections". BBC News. 2007-04-20.
  4. ^ Fildes, Jonathan (2009-08-19). "Web tool oversees Afghan election". BBC News.
  5. ^ Bulkley, Kate (2010-06-18). "Mobile technology takes centre stage in disaster relief". The Guardian. London.
  6. ^ Bulkley, Kate (2010-06-18). "Mobile messaging boosts healthcare". The Guardian. London.
  7. ^ "Mobile technology takes centre stage in disaster relief". London.
  8. ^ "PatientView Beta is Here". Archived from the original on 2010-06-27. Retrieved 2010-06-27.
  9. ^ Bulkley, Kate (2010-06-18). "Mobile messaging boosts healthcare". The Guardian. London.
  10. ^ "FrontlineSMS on".

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