Text Messaging Research Supports Outreach Strategy for Victims of Sexual Exploitation

29 January 2014

The Faculty of Extension's MARS Lab (headed by MACT's Dr. Gordon Gow) has been using FrontnlineSMS for a number of community-engaged projects and is currently using it to support CEASE's outreach strategy for victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking in Edmonton. As far as we can tell, this is a first in North America, possibly the world.

FrontlineSMS is an internationally recognized non-profit that provides free and open source software to support community-based text messaging, particularly in developing countries. The software is also well suited to resource-constrained community organizations in the developed world, like many of the smaller nonprofits we have here in Edmonton.

FrontlineSMS recently posted a case study online that reports on work that the Faculty of Extension's MARS Lab has been doing with CEASE Edmonton. The case study provides background information about the project, and extensive detail about the initial three phases of the collaboration between Extension and CEASE.

The MARS Lab is currently conducting a fourth campaign with CEASE, this time involving three of the MACT graduate students as part of a special topics course in communications. The special topics course is a research-intensive study looking at how principles and practices of social marketing can inform campaign design for organizations wishing to incorporate text messaging into their outreach activities.

The MARS Lab is also now working with CEASE to expand the campaign partners to involve other agencies in Alberta and possibly to other cities in the province and across Canada.