Frequently
Asked Questions

Overview

What is Aselo?

The Aselo software is an open source, modern, contact center platform that unifies the communications work of crisis response helplines. Aselo will allow people in need, especially children and youth, to reach out to helplines using their preferred communications channels rather than just traditional toll-free helpline numbers. Callers, and texters, will have far more access points to reach the help they need including voice, webchat, SMS, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. Counselors will have a single-pane web interface for all contacts, regardless of channel, including integrated data entry.

What is the connection between Aselo and Child Helpline International?

Aselo was created in partnership with Child Helpline International (CHI) and its more than 160 members in nearly 140 countries. The project was instigated by Jeroo Billimoria, founder of CHI, CEO of the One Family Foundation, and founder of the Catalyst 2030 movement. As part of our partnership, Aselo has implemented the new CHI Data Framework, which makes it easier to aggregate data on the global experience of children. This allows helplines to advocate for the populations they serve and CHI to influence policy and funding. Since the initial development of Aselo, we have broadened its capabilities to meet the needs of crisis response helplines serving vulnerable populations beyond children.

Does Aselo provide counseling services?

No. We provide the software and tools necessary for helplines to be successful, while the helplines themselves handle all conversations and counseling services.

How do helpline staff access Aselo?

Aselo is a Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud-based platform, which means counselors only need an internet connection and a computer to log in. Counselors can use Aselo from the office and can also access Aselo from their home or other remote locations as long as they can access the internet with a laptop. Counselors will have the same interface at home as they do in the office. Aselo does not support counselors using mobile phones or tablets.

In what countries is Aselo available?

Aselo can operate just about everywhere in the world if the technical requirements are met (see below). Text-based social media channels are widely available for Aselo in the great majority of countries. Providing voice and SMS channels involves working with local telecom providers, which occasionally proves challenging. In practice, Tech Matters is not able to provide services to a handful of countries that are under U.S. government sanctions.

How does Aselo handle varying operating requirements of different helplines?

Aselo is designed to be highly customizable to address the varying needs and operating procedures of the different helplines adopting the platform. Organizations can customize the data entry fields they are capturing, dropdown values and validation requirements, the channels they choose to operate, any automated messages that are sent to children, as well as set up custom queuing and skills-based routing specific to their needs. Aselo has also been architected to accommodate easy localization so that counselors are able to have a user interface in their native language.

What are the technical requirements for using Aselo?

Aselo has the following minimum laptop/desktop computer hardware and software requirements:

CPU: 1Ghz
RAM: 1024Mb
Screen resolution: 1024×768
Operating system: Windows 7 and 10, MacOS, or Linux Ubuntu/Mint 64bit
Browser: An up-to-date version of Google Chrome
Bandwidth: Minimum recommended internet bandwidth of 200 kb/s

What does Aselo cost?

Aselo is a cloud-based, open source solution built on top of the Twilio Flex, Okta, and Amazon Web Services platforms. As a nonprofit, Tech Matters does not need to charge a profit, so our cost estimates are based on our actual expected costs to customize and operate Aselo as a cloud solution for each helpline partner.

We provide an in-depth proposal of the cost to customize Aselo to meet the needs of a specific helpline, based on detailed interviews of what that helpline needs. These costs range from USD $3,000 to $20,000, depending on the complexity of the desired setup. In addition, we have a cost model for estimating what the ongoing costs would be for a helpline, based on the number of counselors, the estimated number of hours they will be using Aselo each month, and any telecom costs that are not subsidized by the telecom firms or the government. In addition, we charge a fee for offering continuing technical support on a 24/7 basis for technical emergencies, and during the workdays in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia for regular support.

We are expecting child helplines in high-income countries to pay these costs in full, and we partly subsidize the costs of child helplines in lower-income countries, mainly with donor funding. For helplines who have limited resources, we regularly work together to find donor funding for customization and initial operations.

The Aselo software itself is open source and carries no license fee. This means that as new features are added to Aselo, all Aselo users get these new features for free.

Who is using Aselo right now?

Aselo is currently operational in six countries, with another dozen funded to launch in the rest of 2022 and the first half of 2023. We have planned presence in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Over 80% of our current helpline partners are operating national or provincial child helplines, with the balance comprising adult harm helplines and internet harm hotlines.

How can I get a demo of Aselo?

If you are with a helpline and would like a demonstration of Aselo, please contact us at contact@aselo.org.

Aselo Features

What channels are available?

Aselo is an omnichannel contact center platform that integrates contacts from voice, SMS, webchat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Twitter and shortly Instagram and Line, into one single interface.

What types of call center capabilities are included?

Aselo includes sophisticated call center capabilities including:

  • Extensive queuing controls
  • Skills/attribute-based routing
  • Transferring of both voice and text-based contacts
  • Ability to handle multiple text-based contacts at once
  • Interactive voice and text response
  • Real-time queue monitoring
  • Real-time supervisory monitoring of live voice calls and text-based contacts
  • Voice recording and text transcripts

Does Aselo include any data reporting capabilities?

Aselo provides an extensive suite of reports to help manage your call center, including evaluating your performance and program trends. As part of the solution, helplines have the option to create their own custom metrics, key performance indicators (KPIs), reports, and dashboards. Aselo also provides the ability to export data so that it can be used in the data analysis program of your choice. For child helplines, Aselo defaults to using Child Helpline International’s data framework, although helplines can always customize categories to meet their programmatic needs or donor requirements.

Does Aselo provide case management capabilities?

Aselo provides basic case management capabilities for helplines that want to use this optional module. It allows helplines to group together all information about a particular child including their contacts to the helpline, information about their household, perpetrators, incidents, referrals, relevant documents, and summary information. Aselo provides the ability to track cases through different status phases and specify follow-up dates so that children do not fall through the cracks.

Are contacts to the helpline anonymous in Aselo?

Aselo can be customized so that contacts can be anonymous or not. It is at the discretion of the helpline.

Does Aselo operate with any chatbots?

Aselo currently offers optional and customizable pre-survey and post-survey chatbots to capture information before/after connecting a child with a counselor. These chatbots support multiple languages as required. The questions asked and data collected are customizable by each helpline.

What happens in cases of internet and/or power outages?

When there are national power or internet outages, counselors will not be able to take conversations through Aselo. However, Aselo will work with local telecom providers to plan for inbound telephone call routing with failover solutions (for example, automatically rerouting to a regular desk phone, automatic messaging, voicemail, routing calls to a second call center, and/or to mobile phones).

Aselo also has a manual mode so that any data captured during a power outage can be entered when power or an internet connection is restored. Because Aselo is cloud-based, it is also possible to use it from other locations that have data connections when the main contact center is offline.

How does Aselo deal with reports of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM)?

We support helplines who adopt Aselo with tools to assist with the reporting of CSAM in compliance with local practice and applicable regulation. For example, we have already integrated CSAM reporting directly into the Aselo counselor interface to streamline case reporting to national portals, and we’ve already built a chatbot that can be integrated with national reporting portals to enable the user to automatically report CSAM.

What other features are planned for Aselo?

We have built Aselo in active conversations with our helpline partners who are the main force behind our tech roadmap. We have an extensive list of new features we would like to build into Aselo, all focused on assisting helplines to do a better job for people in need. Donors who would like to fund these new features are encouraged to reach out to contact@aselo.org.

Onboarding, Training, and Support

What level of operational and technical commitment is needed to adopt Aselo?

There is no technical development required from the helpline to deploy Aselo, as the Tech Matters’ team handles configuration and set up. Our team works closely with the helpline to understand and define any customization requirements as well as migrate any existing services to Aselo.

Rolling out a new technology platform for a national helpline is a major project. Considerable attention must be invested in planning for the switchover, as well as change management and training efforts to support helpline staff to get the most out of the new technology capabilities. A critical part of this effort is the initial creation of a staging version of Aselo, customized to the needs of the adopting helpline, for use as a testing and training environment. Only when the helpline team is trained, and verified that they are able to use Aselo as part of their standard operating procedures, will we transition the helpline to using Aselo to handle confidential data of callers and texters. We also work with helpline staff to implement a system switchover plan to ensure data integrity while the helpline team transitions to using Aselo for real call/text data.

Can Aselo support short codes and migrating our existing number(s)?

Generally, Aselo implements short codes for voice numbers, and SMS when possible, in each country where short codes are in use (such as 116 in Africa or 116111 in Europe). We also expect to route the relevant standard inbound numbers for each helpline. These routing efforts require cooperation with the relevant telecommunication companies in each adopting country.

What type of training is available for Aselo?

Counselor training materials are available on how to use Aselo in document and video format. These materials provide step-by-step instructions on how to navigate Aselo and perform the tasks counselors need to do as part of assisting children and collecting the correct data about these interactions. We provide supervisor documentation that covers the features specifically available to management staff of the helpline (e.g., reporting, monitoring, assessments, skills assignment, record editing).

On-site and virtual trainings are both available for helplines adopting Aselo. We try to build at least one on-site visit into the implementation plans for a helpline adopting Aselo.

What level of support is provided?

Technical support is currently available Monday-Friday 15 hours a day at support@aselo.org, thanks to our current team based in the Americas, Europe, and Africa. We also run 24/7 monitoring and alerts systems that notify our team in case of any major incidents or system outages that occur outside of our covered hours.

Data Privacy and Security

How do you secure the data of children and adults?

Tech Matters has implemented security and privacy according to industry best practices, which include such items as:

  • Data encrypted at rest and in transit
  • Multi-factor authentication required for our staff
  • External audits by third-party firms to test Aselo for vulnerabilities
  • Access to caller data by Aselo staff restricted and logged
  • Modern ‘defense-in-depth’ architecture to provide multiple layers of security to protect caller data

Is Aselo GDPR compliant?

Aselo has been designed for GDPR compliance, thanks to assistance from the Brussels office of Morrison & Foerster. Aselo is currently in the process of deploying in multiple European countries, going live in the fall of 2022. Tech Matters acts as a data processor for European helplines, who own their data and have the responsibilities of being the data controller under GDPR. Tech Matters also offers to provide data protection provisions based on the European GDPR to helplines outside Europe.

Data Ownership

Does Child Helpline International, donors, NGOs, companies and/or governments have access to our data without our permission?

Data stored in the Aselo platform is maintained by Tech Matters solely for the benefit of each helpline, which owns their own data. Confidential personal data will not be released to anyone without the helpline’s consent. Notwithstanding this commitment, Tech Matters (and its technology vendors) may be required to comply with valid government legal demands for access. Tech Matters shares aggregate data with its funders as part of its grant reporting obligations.

If we choose to share data with Child Helpline International, does Aselo provide the means to do that?

Tech Matters has designed Aselo to make it very easy for helplines using Aselo to export the reports they need to provide the data requested by CHI. We are happy to help with this process, which should be driven by each helpline.

Where is my data hosted?

Aselo is built on top of Amazon Web Services (AWS) for both the Twilio Flex technology and data storage. All data is currently hosted in data centers in the United States. However, Tech Matters can move the AWS servers used by a specific helpline to other countries where AWS has a presence. For example, Tech Matters has already started implementing Aselo’s main database functionality on AWS servers located in Europe. And, Twilio has committed to offering the option to host its data (directly related to telecommunications) on servers based in the EU before the end of 2022.

Can my data be hosted only in my country?

Since Aselo’s cloud-based design makes extensive use of AWS and Twilio, it is only possible to host data in countries with server availability from AWS (roughly fifty countries) and Twilio (currently only in the U.S., but with plans to support other countries).

Is my data backed up?

Yes. Automatic backup is part of the benefits of using a cloud solution like Aselo.

Management and Direction Questions

Who owns Aselo?

The Aselo software is provided under an open source license, which means that the rights of ownership are generally available to everybody, and every organization, in the world. Tech Matters does not charge for access to the Aselo source code. However, Aselo is built on the Twilio Flex, Okta, and AWS platforms, which do have costs associated with them. The source code of Aselo is published on GitHub, and anyone is free to download and modify Aselo for their own use without the need to get permission or pay a license fee.

Who funds Aselo?

The start-up phase of the Aselo project has been supported by philanthropic donors, including Child Helpline International, the End Violence Fund, Twilio.org, Meta (Facebook), Okta, the Jenesis Group, and Schmidt Futures.

Who operates Aselo?

The Aselo platform is operated today for multiple helplines by Tech Matters, the Aselo developer. That model will spread the effort of 24/7 technical support across multiple countries. However, since all of the Aselo software is provided under an open source license and is free to all, anyone else is also able to operate an online platform using the Aselo software. Operating Aselo does require a moderately high level of technical skills, especially with AWS and Twilio platforms.

What is your contingency plan if Aselo loses funding?

The Aselo software would continue to be available under the open source license, and any other group (or groups) could continue to maintain the software without interruption. Tech Matters has also committed to a smooth transition, including reasonable notice to all users and transfer of the operation of each Aselo platform to a vendor specified by our helpline users, if they have identified a group willing to operate the cloud-based service. However, Tech Matters intends to be operating Aselo over a very long time period (at least ten years) and has an excellent track record of operating nonprofit software projects over the long term.

Aselo Software Licensing

What open source license will be used for Aselo?

The license for the portions of the Aselo software created by Tech Matters is the Affero General Public License, version 3. Aselo may take advantage of software created by other groups, and these components are covered by the licenses chosen by their developers, which may be different.

How do I get access to the Aselo software to do my own software development?

The Aselo software is maintained in a publicly available repository on GitHub.

Can we get access to a demo environment before we decide on whether to implement Aselo?

Our current process is to give one or more in-depth demos to the helpline staff and discuss what the most important functionality is for them, explaining what we can easily do. For existing helplines, we also request a demonstration of their existing call center solution, to find out what is working well and what isn’t. If and when there is a joint decision to adopt Aselo, the next step is to gather the customization requirements to create a staging environment. We build this to the helpline’s specifications for testing and training, as well as correcting any errors.