In 2017 the Leapfrog project collaborated with Square Systems to create and deploy a new form of SMS survey. As part of Glasgow School of Art delivering the Peer-​to-​Peer Remote Communities project, we created a series of tools in collaboration with people living in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to help rural communities to plan really great community events and engage with local people. Working with Square Systems and their feedback management platform, Opinion8, we created a SMS-​based survey system to gather feedback on the tools in remote areas without reliable web connectivity. The survey used an opt-​in model with a prominent invitation on every tool inviting users to send feedback via SMS.

In order for these tools to reach as many people in remote and hard to reach areas, we produced over 150 physical copies of the Make It Happen toolbox, in addition to the digital downloads offered for all Leapfrog’s other tools. The Opinion8 SMS-​based survey gave Leapfrog a unique means to learn how people use these physical toolboxes, complementing the online tracking of tool downloads from our website.

Working directly with Square Systems and their feedback tool Opinion8, Leapfrog researchers at Lancaster University and Glasgow School of Art collaborated to devise, implement and monitor the SMS survey. We are grateful to Square Systems for their support of this initiative, and for investing the time needed to create a new form of survey suited to opt-​in academic research activities. Over the past six months we’ve seen less use of the survey than we would have hoped, but have gained valuable insight into what is possible with SMS-​based surveys, now and in the future. For Leapfrog, this experimental survey has underlined the value of present and personal connections to ensure people share their experiences using Leapfrog tools, combined with the need to provide very low barriers for busy practitioners and community members to participate in research activities.