Is RapidPro a UNICEF-specific initiative?
No. UNICEF has invested to make RapidPro a public technological good and has been engaged with ensuring that development partners and governments also look into investing in this open source, common software. UNICEF will continue to invest in the growth and evolution of RapidPro as new ways for using mobile services to better the organization’s work emerge.
Can only UNICEF use Rapidpro?
No. Anyone who is interested in RapidPro can use it. RapidPro is free and open source software and is available to the public. While UNICEF RapidPro is able to support UNICEF Country Offices in deploying RapidPro (www.rapidpro.io), external organisations can either host the software themselves - the free and open source software can be found here - or subscribe to a commercial services like TextIt that runs on RapidPro.
Can multiple countries use the same RapidPro workspace?
No. RapidPro workspaces are predicated on it being tied to a single country, and many features are dependent on that assumption including: mapping functionality, language settings, phone number formatting, and SMS character encoding. This “one country for one workspace” limitation applies not only to SMS/Voice channels but also to internet-based channels (with the exception of global accounts like U-Report Global on Twitter and Facebook Messenger).
Deploying RapidPro for UNICEF
How much does RapidPro cost?
The cost of hosting and using RapidPro will vary depending on how it is set up. For UNICEF, RapidPro is hosted centrally in the cloud, with each country office using RapidPro paying for set-up, volume-based hosting, SMS rates, aggregator services, shortcodes, customisations, and dashboards. Since UNICEF’s RapidPro installation is horizontally scalable, country offices only pay for what they use - eliminating the risk of sunk cost investments in hardware and infrastructure.
Update: Under the UNICEF Global LTA, selected vendors provide various hosting service packages for UNICEF Country Offices. Additionally, if national data regulations require that data remain within the country boundaries, select LTA vendors provide on-premises hosting options. Please contact your respective Regional Information and Communications Technology Division (ICTD) Business Analyst for more details.
If a UNICEF country office incurs the one-off set up cost for RapidPro, can it assume that the office can have multiple accounts for all the various sections? (e.g HR, Child Protection, WASH, Nutrition, etc) And what is the maximum number (if any) of accounts one country can have under one country office installation?
It is indeed possible for different sections to have their own account under one country office installation. Each flow has its own data set and there is no limit to the number of flows that can be created within one account. However, beyond the pilot stage we advise each programme to have a dedicated workspace in RapidPro.
How do UNICEF country offices & programs get demo accounts?
Just send an email to email@example.com with a brief description of how you would like to use RapidPro and we'll make sure an account will be created for you.
Non-UNICEF development organizations have to find a commercial hosting service provider of RapidPro (check the MarketPlace) or set it up yourself using the free software here: https://rapidpro.github.io/rapidpro.
How will transition from RapidSMS to RapidPro be managed?
Managing the transition from RapidSMS to RapidPro will be done on a case by case basis. In certain instances the transition might be straightforward while in other cases it might be more complex. Please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to look into your particular case.
Can RapidPro be deployed on a local ministry server? What are the requirements?
Yes. RapidPro and related products can be hosted and deployed locally provided the technical infrastructure is available. More information on the hosting options can be found here.
If you have multiple projects using SMS, do you need a new RapidPro instance for each project or can you manage all the projects in one?
It is possible to share one RapidPro instance across many projects. Separate flows, contact groups, and data can be defined for each project. However, for large scale projects we recommend a designated RapidPro workspace for a more operationally manageable experience.
How could a country office apply for technical assistance to deploy RapidPro?
Support in deploying RapidPro is provided in different ways. Through webinars, country offices can get all the necessary information on RapidPro and how to prepare for deployments. In addition, the UNICEF Global Innovation Centre is able to organize Super User workshops if requested and coordinated with your regional office, bringing together UNICEF staff from around a region of focus for a 2-3 days crash-course on RapidPro. Other support channels include individual conference calls with the country offices and in-country support on an as needed-basis. Be advised that individual support can only be given by the UNICEF Global Innovation Centre if the country office has already identified a specific programmatic need where RapidPro can be used.Update: UNICEF RapidPro workshops and training sessions are coordinated by regional offices and country offices. Please contact your respective regional Information and Communications Technology Division (ICTD) Business Analyst or Technology for Development (T4D) focal points to schedule training sessions. These workshops will focus on using RapidPro within a programmatic context.
Some vendors are also available to provide end-user training services for UNICEF programmes, governments and non-UNICEF programmes. Kindly reference The Marketplace to find available service providers in your region.
Does a country office need to recruit a project manager for RapidPro?
If a country office is interested in deploying RapidPro for multiple programmatic areas, it is highly recommended to hire a project manager to coordinate office-wide efforts. Other tasks will include developing a comprehensive project plan for piloting to scaling, collecting additional customisation requirements, and managing relationships with the vendor.
Data security and protection
How are RapidPro data protected?
User information will never be publicly available and the option exists to hide contact information on RapidPro. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as true data protection, even when data is locally stored and hosted in a country. However, UNICEF RapidPro has worked hard to ensure that the cloud hosting is very secure, and one of the benefits of cloud hosting is automatic data and security upgrades and patches. More information on hosting security can be found here.
UNICEF recommends the cloud hosting option, this is the most cost effective, reliable, and secure option. Technically, the global LTA vendor and hosting provider could access the data, but they are contractually bound by the Data Protection Provision to refrain from viewing or copying any CO data without consent.Update: UNICEF RapidPro is aligned to the the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
How does RapidPro ensure that applications abide by local data privacy laws?
RapidPro is designed to be interoperable with external systems and deployed in any hosted environment. This allows governments and organisations to either deploy RapidPro locally so that data is kept internal, or integrating RapidPro with a preferred system for storing information.
Is it possible to anonymise the phone number of users on RapidPro?
Yes. It is possible to hide the phone numbers of all users from everyone - including those with administrator access to RapidPro. This is, though, an irreversible feature. Thus, once the feature is turned on, there is no way to turn it off.
Contributing to RapidPro
If you're a software developer interested in contributing to this open source software platform, first check out RapidPro's technical documentation: http://rapidpro.github.io/rapidpro/ then check out the following Q&A: