UCT CS Research Document Archive

USSD: The Third Universal App

Perrier, Trevor, Brian DeRenzi and Richard Anderson (2015) USSD: The Third Universal App. In Proceedings ACM DEV '15, pages 13-21.

Full text available as:
PDF - Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader or other PDF viewer.


In this paper we argue for the use of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) as a platform for universal cell phone applications. We examine over a decade of ICT4D research, analyzing how USSD can extend and complement current uses of IVR and SMS for data collection, messaging, information access, social networking and complex user initiated transactions. Based on these findings we identify situations when a mobile based project should consider using USSD with increasingly common third party gateways over other mediums. This analysis also motivates the design and implementation of an open source library for rapid development of USSD applications. Finally, we explore three USSD use cases, demonstrating how USSD opens up a design space not available with IVR or SMS.

EPrint Type:Conference Paper
Keywords:ict4d, m4d, magriculture, mbanking, mhealth, sms, ussd
ID Code:1049
Deposited By:DeRenzi, Brian
Deposited On:25 January 2016
Alternative Locations:http://bderenzi.com/Papers/perrier-dev2015.pdf, http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?doid=2830629.2830645