This is a beta system under active development
Please let us know if you find a bug or have an improvement

The objective of SMS Connect is break through language and technology barriers. It is implemented to to allow people to send a text message (SMS) to a globally activated phone number (+1) 831-531-OPEN and get a response, regardless of the language they speak. Here’s how it works:

  1. The phone number is programmable and global. So it can be reached no matter where the sender is located. There are very few exceptions to it’s access around the world. Those places that cannot reach this number are rapidly diminishing as our technology provider, Twilio, integrates the last few telecom companies that restrict access. Being a programmable number allows us to connect inputs and outputs of this number through APIs. This makes it possible to connect a multitude of machine-based processing techniques, as detailed below.
    Note: Twilio is an Open Forestry sponsor and has donated to this movement.
  2. Once a text is sent to Open Forestry’s phone number, it is registered by Twilio and made available in an API call to Zapier, which polls the API every 5 minutes to get the SMS. Once received, the text in the SMS is translated to English using Ai processes and returned. In addition, this step returns the source language of the message.
    Note: Zapier is an Open Forestry sponsor and has donated to this movement.
  3. A filter is applied to proceed only if the target language is identified. This step is only necessary while in the Beta phase to limit the number of languages to a manageable amount while other features are improved. The system currently continues past this step if the sender’s text is in English, Chinese, or Spanish.
  4. All data received, including the language identified by the sender, their message, and the English translation are stored in a spreadsheet for reference and importing into a database at a later date. While it is not depicted in the process chart on the left, a parallel process is running that logs all raw incoming data to help us debug the system.
  5. A new message is sent to Open Forestry’s Slack channel for incoming SMS messages. The message we see has the senders phone # and language along with English translation of their message. This way we know how to best get back to them.
    Note: You can join us on Slack! It’s a central hub we’re using to coordinate connections. Connect with us for an invitation.
  6. This final filter allows us to create a final go/no-go test before we send a text back to the sender. This step is helpful while testing new language integrations or tracking down bugs.
  7. The last step is an API call back to Twilio. This sends a canned message to the user letting them know that their message was received, in the language they speak. So if a person sends and SMS in Chinese, they will receive a message in Chinese, that states we got their SMS in the language ‘Chinese’, and we will reply as soon as possible.

This system is slated to be improved with better translation Ai, automated customized SMS responses, and someday with Ai answers sent directly to the sender. With your help we can get this and other tools to help break down communication and technology barriers. Please consider donating to Open Forestry, a non-profit movement.