Last week, Google India quietly launched another voiced based product after the much fanfare release of Google Voice worldwide. This new service called Google Noticeboard is intended to improve communication within rural Indian communities where not everybody owns a computer.
Google Noticeboard is like a voicemail application that can be used on shared computers, for instance the only computer on an Indian village. The administrator sets up a “noticeboard” on this shared computer or on an Internet cafe and this applications then acts as public noticeboard, where anyone can record a voice message. Text can also be added, but the emphasis is on voice communication since the target users of this application is expected to have low literacy rates. Using Google Noticeboard, people from the village can check for new group messages on any shared village computer.
Communities with access to shared computers can use the Noticeboard for exchanging messages related to community announcements, social interactions, local buying and selling, and information that is of wider interest to the community. The Noticeboard may also be used for the community to engage in a dialog with benefactors, public servants, and other service providers who are geographically distant. For example, residents of an apartment complex can use the Noticeboard for posting announcements, or NGOs who own and operate computer centers in several villages can use the Noticeboard to enable village residents to communicate amongst themselves.
To use this Noticeboard, all it requires is a Firefox addon that is to be installed and configured on the shared computer or computers. As a part of the configuration, each community Noticeboard is also associated with an email address and a list of contacts.