Zimbabwe election SMS and other TXT Messages


This weekend President Mugabe is doing everything he can to ensure that he is once again re-elected and it seems that while he is giving cars and houses to doctors along with other good will gestures, the radio stations are being heavily censored. For example, according to Zimbabwe Independant Weekly, last night, all ZBC radio and TV stations stopped normal programming to provide live coverage of Zanu PF’s election manifesto launch that lasted for four hours. Of course the others got no coverage.

Radio stations like SW Radio Africa tried to break through and provide independant coverage by Short Wav Radio and apparently this technology is also being jammed (purportedly and ironically by Chinese technology) so they and other stations are now using SMS technology to bring news headlines to those who want to balance the information flow.

SMS was conceived in the 1980’s primarily as a means to advise people that they had a voice message or had missed a call. The first deployments were in 1993 in Los Angeles, Norway and UK and by 1995 the average usage per GSM subscriber was 0.4 per month!

Today SMS is a way of life and used in so many different ways. Just for me in recent times I have used SMS to comunicate with business clients to confirm appointments and to communicate with coleagues. I have paid for car parking via SMS and this morning sent a woke up message to my daughter in Australia.

I have donated to many charities via SMS, voted for performers on TV and entered competitions by sending an instruction to a Short Code.

On TXT Tunes you can pay to buy and download my songs using SMS.

SMS has had a phenomenal impact on the written language as teenagers created shortcuts in an effort to fit more information into the 160 character messages. Sum adults cn find dis hard to read, but u r not r u? In business I have found this difficult finding young staff who can write a business letter and have found some CV’s on my desk with wrting that automatically precludes potentially very intelligent people from working with me.

In recent times I have been working with projects that allow people to send a SMS request to a GPS locating device, which in turn sends an SMS with spatial co-ordinates to our reverse geocoder that then facilitates sending the nearest street address to the originator again as an SMS message. A next step to this is emergency locator technology for elderly or sick people, where they can send an SMS with the calculated nearest street address to an authority or service if they are in trouble. Car navigation systems will soon be able to do the same when a car has an accident. In New Zealand it is not uncommon for someone to drive down a bank on a winters night and not be able to tell people on their phone where they are. Imagine a system where of airbags are deployed in a car, the bluetooth connection to the driver’s mobile phone automatically sends an SMS with their exact location to the breakdown service.

Watch this space!

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