Call-To-Report Feature via Cloudvox

Submission of reports to the Ushahidi platform to date has been made possible via web, text messages (sms), email and twitter. We are pleased to let you know that you can now add voice reporting to that list. This has been something of a holy grail for us, as we endeavored to answer the ‘how do you voice enable a website?’ question.

All this has been made possible through Cloudvox. Cloudvox is one of the first (if not the first) providers of affordable Asterisk hosting in the cloud. Asterisk is free open source software that turns an ordinary computer into a voice communications server. We’ve had considerable interest in using Asterisk to stream calls into an Ushahidi deployment, but the barriers to entry have been high – especially since we want to make it easy for you to deploy it too. What intrigued me the most about Cloudvox was that it was instant, affordable and most importantly had a good API that we could tap into, to access all the goodness of Asterisk. The icing on the cake was the fact that they make it easy to rent a phone number.

So the next question of course is how this was integrated into Ushahidi. This was achieved via a plugin. We’ll soon be releasing v2.0 of the Ushahidi platform, which includes a new plugin architecture (You can watch the screencast here). Access to the beta version of v2.0 is publicly available too. I wrote a plugin for Ushahidi that integrates cloudvox and allows you to voice enable your Ushahidi deployment in minutes. Here are some of the features:

  • People can call a predefined phone number, which then prompts them for two things: a location and the report.
  • The voice prompts can be edited/created within your Ushahidi admin. These ‘text’ prompts are what the caller hears when they call via text-to-speech.
  • If the robotic text-to-speech prompts don’t sound good, you have the option to upload pre-recorded voice prompts.
  • The recorded location and report sound files are saved separately within your Ushahidi deployment and available for an administrator to listen to when they click on the messages tab.
  • These calls can then be used to create new reports which include the sound files for playback.

To see (or hear) this plugin in action, please go to http://calldemo.ushahididev.com/ or dial +1(678) 809-2225 . You’ll notice a new item in the ‘How To Report’ box on the right:

how_to_report_cloudvox

You can also view a example of a voice report by clicking here. To better understand how all this works, Caleb gives us a video walkthrough:

With regard to Cloudvox, they charge about 3 cents (US) per minute and include 100 minutes free on sign up. Billing is done on pay-as-you-go. To rent a phone number, it costs $3/month for US/Canadian phone numbers and $10/month for phone numbers in other countries.

Resources:

30 Responses to “Call-To-Report Feature via Cloudvox”

  1. Anahi

    AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME!!!!!!!!! that’s all I have to say.

    I love you guys! :)

  2. Jessica Heinzelman

    Holy grail, indeed! Thanks, guys.

  3. Laura Madison

    Amazine! This is just.. wow! David you just blew me away..this is so exciting!

  4. george

    Excellent work David. During a recent US deployment we were using a Google Voice number that would send us emails with the transcribed message and audo file for each call we received.

  5. Very nicely done, David.

    If anyone has integration issues or needs worldwide phone numbers for a Ushahidi installation, feel free to yell our way.

  6. Jamie Lundine

    Great stuff! Is this just for Canada/US? Or will it work overseas (read Kenya)?

  7. where can we access the list of Numbers, By the way i hope u have Nigerian Numbers.. Elections coming up…

  8. Just to be precise, this feature is only possible in the places where Cloudvox can provide you with a number, which is in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States. If you set up this system in a different country people calling you will pay an international phone call.

  9. David Kobia

    I thought I’d add some new information I came across. There are actually two SIP Providers that will provide numbers for a lot of other places (including Kenya) – These numbers can then be used with CloudVox: GagaPhone (http://www.gagaphone.com/), MyDivert (http://www.mydivert.com/)

  10. I’ve got ushahidi setup, this plug-in installed, and the cloudvox number for the region, but I’m trying to figure out one key piece of the configuration that alludes me. What is URL on my Ushahidi that I should put within the cloudvox settings “Send Cloudvox to?” I checked the readme, tried a bunch of the different php pages in the cloudvox plug-in but nothing seems to work. If someone could point me in the right direction it would be much appreciated. I realize this is a blog post and not the support forum, but I haven’t gotten any response on the forum.

  11. Is there any plan of trying to integrate voice to text for creating a report from the users voice message?

  12. Is it too much to ask for Cloudvox to be available in Afghanistan :(

  13. Brian Herbert

    Hello Jenn,

    Cloudvox closed down a while back so it’s no longer available anywhere, unfortunately.

  14. Hey Jenn, I’m working on an IVR – Ushahidi project in Afghanistan. I’d love to share ideas and experiences. Shoot me an email at cneidl@gmail.com if you’re interested.

  15. Any updates on how this is working or where it’s being deployed post CloudVox. I’m excited about what this can do, but before I get my hopes up too much I’d like to confirm that it’s still alive in some shape or form.

  16. Hi, I´m trying to set up cloudvox. Where shoud i get the account for cloudvox, since the site cloudvox.com apparently doesn´t work anymore?

  17. Is it possible to use ushahidi with free freedomfone software instead of cloud based cloudbox?

  18. does this still work? i see cloudvox has been bought out by another company – is there a good alternative? any updates on getting something like this integrated?