Student-developed software enhances radio missions

By January 11, 2019

International (MNN) – Trans World Radio broadcasts their radio programs in 190 countries and 230 different languages. Their reach is powerful and can transmit into remote villages, yet TWR’s Alan Lawton, the Director of Mobilization, says the most difficult part about the broadcasts is knowing if the signal is actually being received and if it is, if the signal is clear.

“It’s easy to know that we’re broadcasting it. We know it’s going out, but how is it being received as a signal? Is the signal strong? Is it weak, is it garbled, is it off?” Lawton says.

“Sometimes we just don’t know. Sometimes, we’ll have listeners write us a letter and two or three weeks later, we’ll find out that it wasn’t even on that night or something, which is very discouraging.”

Software to Find Radio

In order to solve this problem, TWR has been developing Software to Find Radio technology, which picks up frequencies on the radio and can record the signal of their broadcasts as well as the signals strength.

“Instantly, TWR [and] all of our partners can know if the signal is being heard, how strong it is, how widely distributed it is. They can download that data right to their desktop if they want to in an Excel spread sheet, and they can know instantly how well that signal is going into a certain village or a certain part of the world.”

With this technology, TWR is able to transmit their broadcasts as well as partner organizations’ programs.

Lawton says this technology is a critical piece in ministry as they disciple to people in their heart languages all around the world, and it also gives TWR the confidence that they are doing their work efficiently and effectively.

Urbana and Students’ Impact

TWR recently worked with computer and programming students attending the Urbana ’18 event to help develop the Software to Find Radio technology.

Urbana has formed an extension of their event called #Hack4Missions. This extension involves 150 ITIS (Internet Technologies and Information Systems) students and split them into nine teams. In these nine teams, students are able to see how their work impacts the mission field by doing hands-on work and development of ministry programs.

“A lot of these students, they don’t know how they can participate in the world of missions. They’re not evangelists, they’re not pastors, they’re not teachers, they don’t have speaking gifts,” Lawton says.

Yet, through the #Hack4Missions event, students can see just how vital their work is and that it is needed.

At Urbana 18, TWR worked with 13 students who were part of the computer science, programming, communications, and project managers programs. They worked together to help kick off the programming of the sustainable Software to Find Radio feedback project.

Lawton says with the progress the team made at Urbana, it will be a, “jumping off point for TWR because we haven’t had the staff or the resources to figure it out… We’re actually hoping that these students can really make great progress in building this software, designing the code, documenting it so that we can just start using it.”

Through the Software to Find Radio project, TWR hopes to see people being discipled in their faith on a deeper level all around the world.

Come alongside TWR by praying for the development of this software. Pray for the engineers and software programmers who will be working on it, pray for those who will be listening to it, and that governments will not intercede. Finally, because there is a great need for technology-minded people in the world of missions, pray for the Lord’s provision of people.

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