Connecting SMSsync to FrontlineCloud

SMSsync is an Android application that allows your Android phone to exchange text messages with an application like FrontlineCloud. You can learn more about the product, as well as how to download it, by reading Installing SMSsync. You can also find additional assistance at Ushahidi's help site, http://smssync.ushahidi.com/configure/

In order to connect FrontlineCloud to SMSsync, you will need both applications running simultaneously. This is because you need to go through some basic steps to create the connection. After this initial setup, you do not need both applications to be running simultaneously for the connection to work properly.

Once you've downloaded and installed SMSsync, log into FrontlineCloud and navigate to connections from the settings menu (indicated by the settings cog on the top right of your workspace and click on the 'Connect to mobile network' button.

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A list of all the available connections will appear as below. 

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Click on SMSsync and enter the details in the form that opens next as shown and save.

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First, enter a Secret Key into FrontlineCloud. This is effectively a password of your choosing that allows your Android to verify your connection to FrontlineCloud. Please note that this is case sensitive! Remember your Secret Key for later.

Timeout We suggest simply entering 60 mins as a the default timeout period.
The timeout feature allows you to set the number of minutes your Android will attempt to sync messages before failing.  In other words, once SMSsync and FrontlineCloud are connected, your Android will attempt to forward and receive messages to and from FrontlineCloud. If for some reason SMSsync cannot contact FrontlineCloud (for instance, if our servers were down), the Android phone will eventually "timeout" and stop trying to send or receive those messages. You can set a time period for how long the Android attempts to establish a connection. 

Your new connection will now appear on your Connections page. This is your Sync URL, and you will need it to finalize a connection to your Android phone. The Sync URL is highlighted in red below.

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Now, on your Android phone, open up SMSsync. Tap on the "Sync URL" tab. Then you can click the "+" symbol to add a new connection. You should get a screen that looks like this:

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The first field, "Enter Title for the Sync URL," can be anything you want. For example, "Demo FrontlineCloud Account."

Next, enter the Secret Key you created in FrontlineCloud. Please note that this is case sensitive and must exactly match the one in FrontlineCloud.

You can ignore the keywords feature for now; FrontlineCloud will help you manage Keywords.

Finally, you need to enter the URL (web address) you saved from earlier in this process.

Note: the default URL in SMSSync begins with http:// -- but the URL from FrontlineCloud begins with https://  - this additional 's' is necessary for the sync process to work and is easy to overlook.

Your completed form will look something like this:

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Tap "ok" to save the new entry.

Next, you will see a screen in which you can select an account for SMSsync to connect with. Select the account you just created. In our example, it is "Demo FrontlineCloud Account." Then select "Start SMSsync service."

Your screen will look something like this:

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 Ok, you're nearly finished.

Finally, you need to enable "Auto Sync" and "Task Checking" within the SMSsync app settings. By default, SMSSync only checks for outgoing messages when delivering incoming ones. This means your messages from FrontlineCloud could be stuck in 'pending' for a long time with the default settings. Enabling these settings in the SMSsync app allows SMSsync to check for outgoing messages even when no incoming messages have yet arrived, as well as sync with FrontlineCloud on a regular basis.

In order to do this, first click on "Settings" within the app.

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Scroll down and click "Enable Auto Sync" and "Enable Task Checking." The first allows the Android to regularly send incoming messages to FrontlineCloud. The second allows the Android to check with FrontlineCloud to see if there are any messages pending.

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You can also set the Frequency for each task. We recommend somewhere between 1 and 30 minutes between each task depending on how quickly you need your messages sent and received, and your required battery life.

Note: the more frequently SMSsync checks for messages, the faster it will drain your battery. We recommend leaving your Android connected to a good power supply if you need it to connect to FrontlineCloud regularly.

 

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You're finished! You can try sending a test message to make sure everything works properly.

Troubleshooting tips

If your SMSsync connection seems to stop sending and receiving messages, try the following steps, pausing after each one to test whether it has been fixed. One way to tell is to go to the Logs section of the in-app menu and enable them. If the logs indicate that the message syncing task is completed when you sync or re-enable the connection, then it should be working. Here are the steps you can try.

  1. Disable and enable the connection on both phone and Cloud.
  2. Disable and re-enable the data connection on the phone.
  3. Restart the phone.
  4. Finally, if none of these steps have worked, try deleting SMSsync and reinstalling it from the Google Play store. You will need to reenter your settings.
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