Representatives from the IPI and VOICES project partners (Hans Akkermans, Anna Bon and Chris van Aart from VU, and Mary Allen from Sahel Eco), and I have just returned to Bamako after a trip to the cities of Ségou and Tominian, where we visited two of the radio stations with whom we are working.
We had already visited ORTM Radio Ségou and Radio Moutian on the first field trip for VOICES. The goal then had been to find the requirements for what is now the Radio Marché platform. This time, we wanted not only to follow up on Radio Marché but also run the same process of identifying requirements for Foroba Blon (one of the main outcomes of the visit is, in fact, a better spelling of the project name).
First we wanted to find out why Radio Marché isn’t fully used yet, and we identified a combination of technical and administrative causes (full details to be provided later) which we’ve already started sorting out. We can now soon expect to see the first automatically-generated communiqués being broadcast, after which we’ll be focusing on improvements that this visit has also helped us refine (like support for more languages).
The main focus of our visit was Foroba Blon. Just like we had done for VOICES, we sat down with community radio professionals and presented the citizen-journalism platform we’re planning to design. We explained how the voice-based platform could improve the quality of broadcasts through better communication between listeners and presenters. The general idea was very well received, and we had the occasion to focus on many details, features and possible applications which, once we process all the notes we’ve taken, will help us design the platform to suit the needs of most radios.
Ultimately, we want Foroba Blon to be a generic web-voice-radio platform, which will make it simple to integrate applications like Radio Marché, citizen journalism services, or others (e.g., advertising or online archiving). This trip has given us great insight on how it will actually work.