IVR Junction: Building Scalable and Distributed Voice Forums in the Developing World

6th USENIX/ACM Workshop on Networked Systems for Developing Regions (NSDR 2012) |

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Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems play an important role in collecting and disseminating information in developing regions. Recently, researchers have used IVR technology to build voice forums, in which callers leave messages that can be heard over the Internet and over the phone. However, despite their appeal, voice forums remain difficult to set up, and difficult to scale due to the overhead of moderating content and the cost of phone calls.

This paper discusses the challenges and opportunities in creating scalable voice forums. We also present a new open-source system, IVR Junction, that leverages existing free services and commercial tools to simplify the process of creating a voice forum. IVR Junction utilizes familiar cloud-based services to provide free content hosting and moderation, as well as a novel mechanism for automatically synchronizing content across geographically-dispersed offices, thereby enabling local access points with decreased calling costs.