SMS: the last-resort solution for a complicated life situation

As the joke has it, «Google: I know everything. Facebook: I know everyone. Internet: Without me, you’re nothing. Electricity: Keep talking.”. We can only add: “SMS: If there’s still battery charge left, there’s hope”. We all know that SMS is often a kind of a sure-fire, apparently low-tech, 2G, last-resort solution for a complicated life situation when cozy, comfortable 4G modernity fails. An AK-47 of Telecom tech.

We once mentioned here the mobile browser that works without data coverage, using SMS as a transport instead? That case was based on the premise that SMS can be received virtually anywhere. Here, we have another elegant example of SMS dependability put to work; but this time, it exploits the fact anyone with a mobile device has an ability to send short text messages.

Namely, it is a gloriously simple proof-of-concept called ROME (stands both for “Roam” and “Reach-Me-Everywhere”) that makes its user easily available over a single “In case of emergency, break the glass and push the button” SMS number.

Steve Goodwin, software developer from London, UK, describes the problem he had: “I work in an office without a mobile phone signal, so people needing to contact me in emergencies, during office hours, can't. My friend in the civil service has a similar problem - no personal mobiles are allowed in the various offices. So I wanted a way that friends and family, who have only a phone number, could get a message to me in those situations”. To solve the problem, Steve created ROME, a prototype that bridges what he calls “the inequality of communication channels”.

ROME creates a single SMS emergency contact number, and routes incoming messages to the channel that is most appropriate at the specific time of the day, in accordance to the preferences set in a Google Calendar. An SMS sent to this single emergency contact are forwarded to Slack, email, or even translated into speech and played in an automated phone call to a phone line if the user so prefers. User can subsequently reply from Slack and their reply will be delivered via SMS to the person who pressed this emergency button.

Neat and inspiring.

ROME has been created on Apifonica platform over one weekend during TADHack Global Hackathon. Read more details on ROME at http://marquisdegeek.com/code_tadhack2017 or explore ROME on Github https://github.com/MarquisdeGeek/rome.

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