News from the initiative

User Guide: Data Integrity


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Source: FrontlineSMS (reposting does not imply endorsement by the T/A Initiative)

The FrontlineSMS User Guide on Data Integrity is intended for FrontlineSMS users designing, implementing, and monitoring their programs with data integrity concerns in mind. An increasing number of users transmit sensitive information using SMS, which makes questions of data quality and integrity more important than ever. This guide addresses the resulting data integrity considerations of confidentiality, authenticity, availability, and usability of information transmitted using FrontlineSMS.

Diagram showing the path (and potential vulnerabilities) of an SMS interaction between a Frontline SMS user and a mobile phone, or end user, who both subscribe to the same mobile network operator.

Drawing directly on the experiences of those who have used FrontlineSMS in vulnerable contexts, this guide provides a data integrity framework which can be used to understand the level of risk inherent in SMS-based activity. Our approach is based on identifying ways to mitigate the risks identified from the perspective of the user, in combination with a focus on the quality and usability of information exchanged through a FrontlineSMS hub. FrontlineSMS does not define the exact details of how users should address issues of data integrity when deploying our software, but instead provides suggested guidelines on how users can reduce and mitigate the risks by taking a responsible and informed approach program design and management.

To view the Data Integrity User Guide click here

Data Integrity Guide Case Studies:

  • Plan Benin: This case study examines how Plan Benin used FrontlineSMS for violence reporting, the associated data protection and security vulnerabilities, threats, risks and actions taken to reduce risks.
  • National Democratic Institute: This case study examines how the National Democratic Institute (NDI) worked with and trained partner organizations to use FrontlineSMS for election monitoring and the associated data protection and security vulnerabilities, threats, risks and actions taken to reduce risks.
  • Voix des Kivus: This case study examines how Voix des Kivus used FrontlineSMS for crowdseeding. It also discusses the associated data protection and security concerns, and actions taken by Voix des Kivus to reduce them.


This User Guide on Data Integrity has been produced with generous support from Internews. This User Guide would not have been possible without the time and attention of the mobile for development community and, most importantly, our users. Technical writing was primarily contributed by Kristina Lugo and Carol Waters, with minor contributions from several other authors. Graphic design by Jessica Lo. FrontlineSMS is grateful for the oversight and advice of an advisory group that included staff, community members, partner organizations, and experts in this field.

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