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Empowering Communities with Voice-enabled Technologies for Crisis Management

by Nuwan Waidyanatha, Senior Research Fellow, LIRNEasia
by

Nuwan Waidyanatha

on 7 December 2014

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Transcript of Empowering Communities with Voice-enabled Technologies for Crisis Management

We asked Sarvodaya Emergency Coordinators how they communicate
Almost none use the WWW (< 2%)
Less than 50% of them use SMS
Voice is the unanimous choice
LIRNEasia conducted six country study on the use of mobile phones by the poor
Empowering Communities with
Voice-enabled Technologies
for Crisis Management
BY

Nuwan Waidyanatha
Senior Research Fellow
A Mobile World
Many communities are still lacking access
to the Internet, they fall short in computer
literacy and are underserved by non-latin
scripting technologies!
Thanks to the growing access to affordable
mobile phones and interactive voice
response technologies they can be part
of the digital habitat.
“We usually interconnect with other
rescue and relief agencies through phones …”

“We request for assistance from the
head office through the phone ...”

“It is easy to call … average citizens
in the village don't use SMS ...”
Sarvodaya Compassion in Action
relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction
over 1 million IDPs
2009 post war Sri Lanka
Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement is Sri Lankas largest community-based grassroots development organization and they respond to all national and local disasters
Sarvodaya Truck loads of Relief
Rescue and Relief operations
over 1 million affected
2011 Floods Sri Lanka
Daily and Weekly reports are exchanged between the field coordinators and the head office on immediate resource needs
Those reports are exchanged through Telephone calls, a few faxes and some are hand delivered
Ideal Technology:
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) integrated with Disaster Information Management System

www.freedomfone.org
Freedom Fone is a two-way IVR
The user simply dials a phone number and navigates the voice menus to "leave-a-message" or listen to "content" in the local dialect
Sahana is a web based localizable software
The numerous modules are designed to manage humanitarian activities
Information is captured and presented in categorical, visual, time-series and geo-spatial forms
Both are
Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)
supported by global communities:
www.freedomfone.org
www.sahanafoundation.org

Working with radio
Now Imagine a crisis
For exemple: radio staion can host the Sahana incident reportinga and missing persons registries for callers to voice their cries; those audio clips can be broadcasted for situational updates or response requests.
Research Design and Evaluation
Colombo
(urban)
Ratnapura
(rural)
Matara (urban)
Principal: Lanka Jathika Sarvodaya Shramadana Sangamaya
Sri Lanka's largest community development organization that responds to humanitarian services (www.sarvodaya.org)

Hazard Information Hub @ Sarvodaya's Community Disaster Management Center, Moratuwa involved: three EM Coordinators and three Operators

Four Districts: Colombo, Matara, Nuwara-eliya, Ratnapura, ~ 10 - 15 CERT members from each district: Divisional/District Coordinators, Staff
Nuwara-eliya
(rural)
Exchange Situational Reports, process them to determine response resources
Following a hazard event activate CERT members and EM Coordinators to respond to the event
REPORTING
ALERTING
Two key communication functions evaluated with respect to community-based emergency response
ITU-T P.800 recommended Mean Opinion Score (MOS)
voice quality test for the Four Districts
51.84%
Circuit (or mechanical) noise degrades the MOS with ~ 50% of the voice samples were bad, poor, and fair
Such "partial", "unclear", or "missing" information can lead to false predictions or actions and inefficiencies
Approximately ~30% of the voice recordings were difficult to decipher (or process)
All telephone generate samples were worse or much worse than the same voice sample recorded on-site with a a digital recording
Given MOS=3.52
Speaker-Independent
Given MOS=3.39
Speaker-dependent
Difficult
13.24%
Speaker-dependent exercise with key words made is easy for the independent evaluators to predict the voice sample content (emulates a trained system)
Speaker-independent, large vocabulary continuous speech, voice samples were hard for the evaluators decipher (i.e. emulates an untrained system)
User variability makes a→ speaker-dependent system unfavorable (i.e. impractical to train each user)
Perhaps a hybrid may be possible
Emulates
ITU-T P.800 recommended Percent Difficult (or Difficulty score) voice quality test for the Four Districts
Difficult
29.44%
telephones generated voice quailty too poor to apply "automatic speech recognition" for automating information exchage between Freedom Fone and Sahana
Objectively assessed complexities of CERT members interacting with the Freedom Fone IVR in listening to Alert content and leaving-a-message of an incident report (n=47 participants); results from the District-wise controlled-exercises
Extremely easy or easy 68.92%
Average number of attempts made by a CERT member in listening to Alert content or leaving-a-meeage of an incident report (n=47 participants); results from the District-wise controlled-exercises
Two or less attempts 86.42%
CERT average response to the "Technology Acceptance Model" ease-of-use and usefulness questionnaire; conducted with n=38 participants from the four Districts
With respect to their attitude towards using the Freedom Fone IVR; all things considered, the IVR was perceived to be:
a good idea
a benificial idea
a wise idea
a positive idea
Easy-to-Use and Useful Freedom Fone IVR was a utility for interlinking Community Emergency Response Teams
www.freedomfone.org
www.sahanafoundation.org
Diffusion of the research results and to lobby for resource invesments in voice-enabled emergency communication technologies was made possible through a grant from the Humanitarian Innovation Fund of the United Kingdom
www.humanitarianinnovation.org

The action research to study the feasibility of the innovation; i.e. the integration of the Freedom Fone IVR with the Sahana IMS, was made possible through a grant from The Kubatana Trust of Zimbabwe www.kubatana.net
Our gratitude to the Lanka Jathika Shramadana Movement CERT members and EM coordinators in the four Districts and the Hazard Information Hub staff for their voluntary efforts in assisting with the innovation pilot study
www.sarvodaya.org

Many thanks to Freedom Fone and Sahana Software Foundation communities for their technical support in operationalizing the ICTs
www.freedomfone.org www.sahanafoundation.org
The Incident Command Center Staff action cycles, when interacting with the disparate Freedom Fone and Sahana systems, were not a smooth transition

The shortcomings of voice-based technologies are not
with the CERT members in the field

It's at the incident command center with the lack
self-intuitive well integrated and streamlined software
tools

Automation of voice-to-text or text-to-voice
transformations are far fetched with the current state of
natural language processing; especially for non-latin
scripting languages

The persistent low quality voice transmissions may
improve with the role out of 3G and 4G cellular networks
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