Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Apr 29, 2016 in Mobile Technologies, What's new | 1 comment

Benchmarking: Short codes, Aggregators and Gateways – SMS Platforms unveiled

Benchmarking: Short codes, Aggregators and Gateways – SMS Platforms unveiled

Whilst smart phones and instant messaging are certainly on the rise, they do depend on a reliable 3G network which is still not a given in many countries, especially not in rural areas. Consequently, in many regions SMS is still the most reliable mode of communication for beneficiaries or key informants working remotely. The Public Health Section of UNHCR, especially interested in understanding the platforms’ potential for health related communication and case management, commissioned CartONG to conduct a study. This was completed in form of an in-depth benchmarking of SMS platforms following a set of parameters set as required:

  • Must support one-to-many messaging as well as one-to-one messaging
  • Must support two-way-communication
  • Must be able to send text messages in more than one alphabet
  • Must be able to send text messages to at least 40 countries
  • The platform must be a self-managed solution, i.e. program staff can send and receive messages and surveys themselves, without having to go through a service provider
  • No software development skills or similarly advanced IT skills are necessary to use/install the platform.

Other than generic Mobile Data Collection (MDC) platforms, hosted in the cloud or setup on a computer and routed through a local network, SMS platforms and tools often do depend on the local setting and its available phone providers and a lot more time needs to be spent on researching the possibilities providers’ in-country offer before as opposed to the options provided by web based aggregators using international numbers. In most cases, a system cannot be set up within a few days if those questions have not been considered before.

The typical platform architecture looks like the one below:


The full report, written by Timo Lüge and including background as well as the snapshot profiles, can be downloaded here.

1 Comment

  1. Absolutely spot on about how critical SMS remains around the world. Very helpful review overall, thanks! Any review of zero-rating, reverse-billing, or airtime incentive capabilities? Absolutely critical for any SMS program, in my experience at GeoPoll ( where we integrate directly with the MNOs themselves.


  1. SMS Platforms Compared | Social Media for Good - […] is the most appropriate. To help UNHCR make these decisions for their health-related activities, CartONG contacted me some months…

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

🚚 📦 We're moving!

[French below]

The content of the CartoBlog was transferred to the Information Management Resource Portal in May 2021:

Please note that the CartoBlog will be decommissioned in early 2022. From now on, we warmly encourage you to consult the tutorials, benchmarking studies and other resources directly onto the new portal.

Thank you!

🚚 📦 On déménage !

Le contenu du CartoBlog a été transféré sur l’IM Resource Portal en mai 2021 :

Veuillez noter que le CartoBlog sera désactivé au début de l’année 2022. Nous vous invitons, dès à présent, à prendre l’habitude de consulter les tutoriels, benchmarkings et autres ressources directement sur le nouveau portail.

Merci !