Next2 is a “geosocial” network that allows people to automatically connect around location and by common topics of interest or concern. By sending a text message, a Next2 subscriber can signal what they have, want or would like to learn or talk about and Next2 automatically matches and then exchanges text messages between users based on similar location and overlap of sharing “circle” without revealing a user’s mobile phone number.
I believe the Ag. Sector is interested in seeing new ICT solutions (apps) that reduce or remove some of the existing bottlenecks in the process of sharing agricultural content between and among rural farmers, extension service providers, and researchers in the developing world.
So what is unique about the Next2 app? One prospect I noticed about the Next2 solution is its professed capability of connecting people with common interest. In the context of rural agriculture, I foresee the improvement in sharing of local knowledge and innovations among farmers – a kind of horizontal/intra communication among the farmers. Next2 app may contribute to the production and sharing of user-generated agricultural content among farmers. It could also increase the density of communication network between farmers and other stakeholders.
Next2 also professes to take simple feature phones without data connection and through use of SMS puts those phones on the Internet. I wonder if this could be an alternative solution to the use of smartphones in share agricultural data between and among farmers, extension service providers and researchers. By going to a Next2 subscribers web page and clicking on a link you can send the subscriber a message, the message appears on the subscribers mobile phone as a new text message, the subscriber can reply by text message, and the Next2 software routes it back to the sender as SMS or email. Of course, access to the minimum Internet service will be required.
The aims of the Next2 solution are:
- Making the lives of people at the base-of-the-pyramid (BoP) significantly better by enabling them to discover, connect, communicate and thereby mobilize local solutions to local problems,
- Giving under-served and over-looked populations an Internet presence and messaging identity that creates a bridge between them and Internet users,
- Empowering local channel marketing partners to introduce Next2 to the communities they serve to quickly and aggressively drive content creation, content distribution and grow significant value to end-users,
- Building SMS, access phone number(s) across the African continent so subscribers can conduct cross border communication and trade to foster regional markets and economic development in agricultural and other industries,
- Enabling brands, entrepreneurs, businesses, NGOs, government agencies and researchers to reach Next2 users and/or incorporate Next2′s communication platform, features and/or data in their own applications.
The use of the innovation is being considered in Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana for agricultural partners who can create a Nokia App for farmers. The solutions is similar to how FrontlineSMS works but instead of plugging a SIM card into a personal computer, SIM card is rather plugged into a in-country hosting provider that then connects the SIM card to the cloud solution of Next2 on Amazon server. Through that, Next2 is able to use a long-code to provide Next2 solution to all farmers in a given country.
Will be monitoring and looking forward to more analysis on the use of the app from the field as it is piloted.
More information here.