May 30, 2016
Category : 3-2-1 On Demand Messaging
Most speakers of Khmer don’t count on their phones for SMS based information in their first language. For the average Cambodian, it’s all about IVR — Interactive Voice Response.
HNI has just launched the 3-2-1 Service in Cambodia, providing public service messages in Khmer that people can access on demand.
Callers can now find trusted information on topics including, Weather, Currency Rates, Market Prices, Reproductive Health, and Emergency Numbers. More topics and messages are planned for the service in the near future, such as Financial Literacy, and Health & Nutrition.
Our partner is Cellcard, a Cambodian-owned and operated telecommunications company with more than 4 million subscribers.
The barriers to text-based public service messages are not necessarily education or literacy. A big impediment are the phones themselves. Many mobile phones in Cambodia can’t send or receive an SMS or USSD message in the Khmer script. And according to a recent report by The Asia Foundation, most Cambodians do not know how to type in Khmer on a basic phone keypad.
Although SMS and USSD channels are available Madagascar, Malawi, and Ghana (and are planned for 10 more countries in the near future), in Cambodia, these channels would not be effective for the target audience.
Instead, for the text-based information we developed a website: kh.321online.org
The site is designed and tested to be useable on the most basic feature phones we could find. These kind of phones come with very simple web browsers pre-installed. And these simple browsers have better odds at displaying Khmer text than SMS or USSD on the same phone.
Cellcard is “zero rating” the data from the website, so even subscribers who don’t have data plans on their phones can access the content for free.
“We at HNI aim to include all the people in need of the 3-2-1 Service independent of their level of technology use” said Sandra Gubler, Director of User Experience for HNI. “The website has been designed in a user-friendly way and works on even the most basic phone with network access. People can even download the information and share it with others when they are offline.”
“[A] substantial portion of the Cambodian population are yet to discover or afford the benefits of an Internet connection,” said Laszlo Barta, Cellcard’s Chief Commercial Officer. “And with education and literacy concentrated more in key urban areas, language is another barrier that most Cambodians need to hurdle. We hope that The 3-2-1 Service will help bridge the gap and will be of use and service to all Cambodians.”
HNI’s content partners for the the 3-2-1 Service in Cambodia are:
- Currency Rates are provided by Microfinance institution Ly Hour
- Crop Market Prices are provided by CEDAC, a public-private, community development finance institution
- Reproductive Health (Birth Spacing and Safe Abortion) content developed by PSK, a Cambodian health and social marketing NGO
“The 3-2-1 Service is an additional channel that will allow Cambodians to access basic but correct information about important health issues such as family planning and safe abortion – and in a way that is convenient and confidential,” said Dr. Kheng Heng, Director of Health Services for PSK.