NC State University Chancellor’s Innovation Fund is Mobilizing a Bridge Over the Digital Divide

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More than two billion people worldwide who don’t have internet access often miss out on life-changing benefits of being connected, such as automated micro-lending for entrepreneurs, marketplace applications and information services including weather forecasts and market pricing.

To help overcome this digital divide, NC State innovators have developed a new platform that enhances the capabilities of cell phones with text-messaging services, which are common even in disadvantaged areas.

NC State’s enhanced Short Message Service (SMS) platform overcomes a limitation of texting technology: all SMS messages are independent of each other. Human language is used to create meaning from SMS conversations between people, and it is difficult to program computers to accurately communicate with humans over SMS. Solving the problem would enable international aid organizations, social science researchers, microfinance organizations and e-commerce groups to reach unserved people around the world.

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