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TRAC FM: Citizens keeping an eye through radio and SMS

Interactive radio talk-shows are the most popular platforms for political debate in Uganda. Twaweza partner TRAC FM builds on the success of these shows and involves citizens in high frequency monitoring of public services, such as reporting on teacher absenteeism, availability of text books, drug stock outs, waiting time at clinics, teacher payments, election proceedings, functionality of water points, potholes etc. TRAC FM combines Radio, Mobile, Print, graphic design and online media to create a new and popular approach to public monitoring of service delivery.

Together with local media partners, TRAC FM identifies pressing and popular inconveniences, often related to public services. The user-friendly TRAC FM software is used by radio presenters to hold surveys during their talk-show to which listeners can react via SMS (free of charge). During these popular radio debates, listeners are presented with a specific question which allows them to report on a failing public service, give their opinion on pressing public matters or elect worst or best service provider within a certain sector. Incoming text messages are collected by TRAC and instantly processed and visualized in an innovative way. The visualization is relayed to the FM stations where the radio talk-show host interprets, presents and feeds the data back into the public online debate. The data gathered during the radio-polls are processed into attractive infographics (Graphs, Maps and other visualization) and used in background stories in Print Media. With the support of Twaweza, TRAC FM was able to develop its ideas, design and test the software, with May 2011 as the set date to go live in partnership with Nation Media Group.

In 2014 after working with Trac FM, Twaweza commissioned an independent study to monitor the delivery, coverage and quality of the service they offer to radio stations.

Read more: Mobile technology

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