A Colombian innovation lets rural users without an Internet connection search Google through their landlines.
All too often, we are used to thinking of innovation in communications as exclusively high-tech. However, this is not always the case. Innovation can come from anywhere, including legacy technologies. This was demonstrated recently by Bogotá communications and marketing company MullenLowe SSP3. Recently, MullenLowe was hired by the Columbia Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to solve the problem of internet access in rural areas. Many rural areas in Columbia have no access to the Internet. People living in these areas tend to rely on landlines and legacy phones rather than smartphones, and the government was looking for a cheap and fast solution.
To solve the problem of how to get those people closer to the information they are missing, MullenLowe and the Ministry hit on a low-tech solution, called MyLine. Additionally, to search the Internet without Internet, users simply place a call to a local telephone number. They can do this from any landline or legacy telephone. The number, 6000913, is only available in Columbia. The numbers form the word Google, and when users call it, they are connected to a Google Assistant. Users can then ask the Google Assistant a question. Custom software processes the question and connects with Google systems in the cloud. MyLine receives the response and speaks it back to the caller.
Furthermore, the innovation recently won a Lions Grand Prix award at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The simplicity and novelty of the idea impressed judges at the prestigious award. Sometimes the best ideas do not involve high tech. We have seen this in other innovations. These have included a mobile clinic that brings dental care to patients and a hotel that recycles old linens into new pyjamas for children in need. What low-tech solutions are there to communications problems?