Using Tech to Listen to the Wisdom of the Crowd

Updated: Oct 13

by dr kate mcalpine

What is the tech that Citizens 4 Change uses to map, track, communicate with, & mobilise citizens who want to do the right thing?


A hybrid platform using off the shelf apps.


We have developed a hybrid system that uses Filemaker, Tableau & Africa’s Talking applications.


The core is the Filemaker database, where we store all contacts with their demographic details; & their survey records.


Rich contact management


We design & schedule SMS & web surveys in the database & match them to the appropriate contacts.

Survey design interface


The surveys are then automatically sent to Africa’s Talking platform & using a shared USSD API are sent to the crowd as SMS messages, via the Tanzanian & Ugandan telecoms.



Responses are drawn down back into the Filemaker database; & then synced using a python script with our Tableau online app. This is where the data analytics are conducted & dashboards built.


The endless possibilities of a dashboard


We close the feedback loop by taking key insights from the analytics, crafting them as SMS surveys in the Filemaker database, sending them back out to the crowd using Africa’s Talking, & publishing them as blog posts, academic & conference papers.


What is the data?


People enrol on the system via household surveys conducted by our partners on the ground, or they self-enrol using our short-code or an online form.


Over the pilot 2.69m SMS weekly surveys will be sent. Every protector receives a


Welcome package that asks them to tell us about themselves (enabling subsequent disaggregation of findings & nuanced targeting of messages).


Safeguarding package where they learn about the impacts of maltreatment on children, sign the code of conduct, participate in a safeguarding capacity analysis.


Key information on keeping safe during Covid-19.


Basic information about child development.


Every protector then receives a monthly survey asking them what they have done to protect children that month; obstacles faced; who helped them & how; & outcomes for the child.

Every quarter they receive a survey that asks them to reflect on their motivation, hopes & aspirations for children in their community.


Depending on their interests each receives a monthly survey that builds their toolbox as a protector & refers them to additional fact based information on the website. Interest specific topics include

  • community based child protection,

  • early childhood,

  • protective behaviours,

  • safe schools,

  • social norms &

  • street connected children.


We are using this platform in our bid to,


Create a big and diverse crowd of citizens who are intrinsically motivated and who cooperate in protecting children from harm.


Tap into the wisdom of the crowd enabling child protectors to protect children better.


Aggregate the knowledge and problem-solving capabilities contained in the crowd of child protectors to inform the wider eco-system of government, development partners and child protection practitioners working to address violence against children.


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