When in 2009 Christopher Fabian and Erica Kochi, two employees of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), developed RapidSMS, a platform for data gathering and group communication using the short messaging system (SMS) on mobile phones, their aim was simply to tackle the problem of slow data transmission within the food security surveillance system in Malawi. Four years later, RapidSMS is touching the lives of millions in many African countries, helping to record births and monitor distribution of mosquito nets in Nigeria, monitor neonatal health in Zambia and track food distribution in the Horn of Africa, among other uses.