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Telephone and SMS content and services powered by VOIP Drupal: Factsheet

VOIP Drupal in the Wild

Project for global institution where people can call or SMS with feedback on projects.

Wisconsin Community Calendars

Collaborating with Wisconsin on aggregating local community calendars of events, computer literacy classes to event at church. Low-cost digital sign can be placed in grocery store. Or print flyers, to distribute to people. System also generates a community hotline, so each event added to the system gets a unique ID, which people can use to get more information about that event, or get forwarded to the people organizing the event.

Wisconsin shared community calendar, people add events to Drupal calendar. Each event has its own ID number to call in and get more info, SMS reminders.

Slides on slideshare have images of these projects.

Rev and NannyVan

An organization called Rev, based in New York, works for a domestic workers bill of rights. Car talk radio for child cartakers. Dial in and listen to different episodes, on minimum wages, vacation, how to talk to your employer. Subscribe to SMS to get latest reports. Latest version of initiative is NannyVan, driving around the country. a very good group, building with them a new version of SMS blast module, they have a couple hundred people registered.

Use Cases

Getting updates and general information

People can call to learn latest information. We've been dying to implement that, for each location you dial in, leave information, others can subscribe. Can be used in emergency, and also for day-to-day information. Meeting about school or church or a game canceled.

Crisis situations

When people need to know: What are we supposed to do? Stay home, go somewhere? Where do we get clean water? There we could play about, reactively, where people can call, and get a lot of information without it requiring a lot of manpower on our side, or proactively, if we do need to send a security message, automatically call 6,000 people.

Phone Tours

We built a system for people to organize local neighborhood tours.

Approach to talking to organizations that could use VOIP Drupal

Ask what programs they have that might need.

Good for them to get a sense of what is possible with VOIP Drupal, and then converse with them about uses they come up with.

Power of (localizeable) voice

Voice prompts in own language, in local dialect, in multiple dialects.

Voice is so powerful, enabling people to listen
This boom on mapping, GIS, which is great, but it's not as relevant for local population who already knows where things are.
Map static. When you bring a calendar of events on top of it, you see what's going on.
in front of a building and have no idea what's going on in there. Having a centralized calendar, one that sends SMS messages or can call you and leave a voice message.

Sites to play with VOIP Drupal on

Leo: Let people call the number and play with it on


Slide #6 shows VoipDrupal module stack.

What's involved in implementation, there is always a Drupal site, and it can be accessible via web or only voice, people only call in to listen to latest developments. Depending on the country, it may be harder. Where already supported by VOIP provider, easy, would take like a minute to get a phone line set up. In other locations, different possibilities: Using a local cell phone as an adapter, to receive the calls or text messages, and the service calls the person back. Where a phone not enough, there are GSM adapters that can take up to 60 SIM cards for different cell phone providers, multiple at once, it connects via ethernet to a Drupal site. In many cases different cell phone providers offer different rates, so can program the GSM adapter to call T-Mobile with its T-Mobile SIM card.

With Kookoo could get two numbers for India, but they are paid. "Silver egg account" Noticed Tropo is offering phone numbers in India.

Combined can get phone numbers in 50 countries, send SMS anywhere.

Other projects in slide deck you may want to show: slide 18, Vojo, MIT built on top of VOIP Drupal, allowing people to record stories.

There are sites that only do large campaigns of thousands, VOIP Drupal is bettter for smaller, up to hundreds.

You can use multiple providers with one VoipDrupal, though presently that needs a small change to API to pass a server id in as an argument.

World Bank project in Zambia, Bolivia, other countries is using an Android phone that receives the call, finds the number, and rejects the call before any charges, and our system calls the person back.

Can get a GSM adapter where can put multiple sim cards, so can have [dozens of] cell phone lines going to one server.

You do not even need a computer or server in the country to make local calls. The GSM adapter makes the calls, it just needs to be connected to the internet.

Systems could be very sophisticated: when you use this number, use T-mobile number to call T-mobile number so it's free for instance.

We can build the tools.

Additional Capabilities

Recording right in computer through web site

Record audio with any of these three methods:

  1. Upload audio file.
  2. Press web-based recorder.
  3. Click-to-call field, type in phone number, and system will call you, and you record the audio.

Voice recognition or conversion to text?

Different providers do different capabilities. Can switch different providers easily, we currently support four. Speech translation or transliteration, after some time Twilio will send transliteration in text, English, French, Spanish, German i think.

Tropo offers speech recognition, can say an option rather than press enter.
You need to pass a list of scope that you recognize. Better defined that list, better results.

Drupal is More Than a Web Site

Big deal, Drupal plus VOIP, because we can provide people a web presence, even if they may not have access to the web.

If you want to manage that information, if you want to give people access to it without needing a computer, VOIP Drupal is the way.

Broadcasting directly from CRM, or subscribing to specific events or categories, for text notifications when people add information. No simple way for a PBX to do this, or to create a poll. Allows collecting information from a wide swath of people.

It's all a web site, it's all Drupal, it's just all the information can become accessible to people via voice and SMS.

Audioblog example:

Need to finish call blast module.

A commerce extension and a CRM extension, CiviCRM or Core CRM, are low-hanging fruit.

At one point we were playing with the Conference Organizing Distribution (COD), then everyone in Drupal community would know at least, text message reminder for sessions. We have some examples.

There is a module named VOIP scripts samples, and one is a little shop, press 2 to get hours of operation, press 3 for customer support. Also we have a sample for integration with the Commerce module, not sure if it's still running, for Drupal 6. Call in and get the status of an order with the order ID. Those things are super low-hanging fruit, and they already have an install base.

Leo has experience with a global project starting with text messaging, telling stories, reporting issues. We found text messaging very limited, constrained, hard to type a story in a text message.

Text message good for broadcast, but hard for people to express themselves. That's where voice comes in.

No fully automated voice-to-text working with accents and all, so we just started with full voice.

Provide an extension number to any entity, user or node, in the system. It automatically runs associated script with that entity (bundle) type.


To encrypt a phone call you need a special device on both ends. The connections are secure, to provider.

FreeSwitch is interesting. Privo was built on top of FreeSwitch. They had an open source version, don't promote it much.
"FreeSWITCH Powers Plivo - An OSS Alternative To Twilio" -

Know the guys at Plivo, haven't talked to them for several months, very nice guys, founder. They funded the development of the VOIP Drupal module.

Tropo more expensive for production, free for developers, provide most languages and such.

Twilio has more hype, documentation, and support.

Plivo has open source version, is very reliable.
Plivo good for one line, but a pain when you need to scale.

If Asterisk finishes or has finished their API, could be supported to.

We are in a phase of getting more feedback from the community.

We can set up a web site where people can sign up for Birds of a Feather (BoF) topics and get SMS with when and where the session is.

Do a BoF on call blasts and voice menus.

Leo: SMS the most ubiquitous bi-directional form of communication people have today. And voice is powerful. 5 billion feature phones, and only a billion smart phones.

VoipRTC - phone calls from browser.

Commerce capabilities

Add a phone line to the store, get hours, get order status, or get actual person. Get SMS when order is shipped.

Thanks for looking at VOIP Drupal & Summary

Thank you for taking the time to look at VOIP Drupal. There are many exciting things that can be done in areas where there is very limited connectivity. In countries with crisis, we need rapidly built cell phone networks that are easy for people to access. Of all the things we discussed, the emergency system seems to be the most crucial one that could be enhanced by this technology. This could be implemented on an existing project with minimal resources and in a very short time.

Here is a link to the most recent slides Leo has put together:

The VOIP Drupal Fact Sheet:

Here is some background on the VOIP Drupal suite of modules and more detailed answers to some questions you asked during our call -

A Drupal Website interacts with VOIP Drupal by doing the underlying things it is already good at - managing users, tracking events, providing accountability by showing how many people have interacted with it, along with detailed analytics. The Website also provides an interface for people to read or hear the posted messages, and an interface for administrators to post alerts, or look at data that has been collected.

  • VOIP Drupal provides an information infrastructure that reaches every person in a region irrespective of computer connectivity or even literacy.
  • VOIP Drupal is very different from the tele-center approach that expects people to walk to a place with computers.
  • There would be one number that people can call, and get a lot of information without it requiring a lot of manpower on your side. Pro-actively, if you do need to send a security message, the system can automatically call people.
  • There is no need for a SmartPhone or a data plan. All that is needed is a regular cell phone.
  • Beyond the Website and the phone, low-cost digital signs (think - Times Square) that display content/messages from VOIP Drupal can be placed in grocery stores, on street corners, in civic centers etc..
  • Anyone could use the Drupal Website to print flyers, to distribute to people. VOIP Drupal can also generate a community hotline, so each event added to the system gets a unique ID, which people can use to get more information about that event, or get forwarded to the people organizing the event.
  • You can do all the recording for messages right on the computer, through web site.
  • You can have one phone number, at a very low cost, like $3 a month, then VOIP Drupal handles extensions. VoipNode module provides extensions to Drupal entities, nodes or users.
  • The system can collect information on who called for information about what, this closes the loop and allows you to see where needs are met. This information can be displayed through the existing Drupal interface.
  • To make a phone call, there are no issues, the call is treated as an international call.

There are many ways an end user may interact with the system - all are Drupal permission based:

  1. Upload an audio file.
  2. Select the web-based recorder via a button on the Website.
  3. Click-to-call field, type in your phone number, and the system will call you, and let you record the audio.

Once the call is recorded, it can be displayed on your Website automatically or moderated, as text or an audio file the end user can click to play.

As discussed on our call, in your office for economic affairs that works to promote good governance, which involves a lot of participatory decision-making - VOIP Poll can work well, allowing people to comment and vote on policy immediately.

About Voice recognition and converting messages to text:

Different VOIP providers have different capabilities. Using VOIP Drupal, you can switch to different providers easily, VOIP Drupal currently supports four providers. Speech translation or transliteration, is available using Twilio. They will send transliteration in text, English, French, Spanish and German.

Since there are different Voice Over IP providers, each one supports 20-30 languages, which is fine, but it's still a computerized voice. So we have created the ability for people to override these prompts - in their own languages and dialects. If you don't have a specialized recording, the system falls back to text associated with the recording.

Tropo offers speech recognition also. You do need to create a list of scope that you recognize. The more defined your list is, the better the recognition.


  • Depending on the country, there may be political challenges.
  • India is particularly challenging, because they have specific legislation regarding VOIP. Now we have a module to work with the provider in India.
  • For the system to make hundreds of thousands of calls, that would require some conversations with local VOIP companies for services.

Steps to make it happen -

  1. What is needed?

A Drupal site - it can be accessible via web or only voice, people would only call in to listen to the latest developments, the site does not have to have a visible public face.

  1. How long would it take to set up?

Countries that are already supported by VOIP providers are very easy, it would take only a minute to get a phone line set up. 1-2 hours to have a basic VOIP Drupal installation that people could use to receive or share information via text or audio.

We are available for any questions that you may have.

Thank you for taking a look at VOIP Drupal, our team believes it could rapidly help solve some issues and be a wonderful tool to bring services to many areas of the world.

VoIP Drupal on


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