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The BBC Presents A New Digital Pilot From Kenyan Designers

By BBC World Service International
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Tailored BBC news content for the smartphone and social media generation is now available with the new African-designed pilot: BBC Drop, which can be tried from today - here [BBC.com/drop].

This responsive website is the result of a unique collaboration between digital innovators in Kenya and the BBC. BBC Drop is specially created to work well on smartphones and was designed in Nairobi last year. The idea was born out of a development studio (aka 'hackathon') held by the BBC World Service and BBC digital innovations team, Connected Studio. Teams of African tech experts were invited to think of new ways to reach young Africans through social and digital media (details here) and this selected idea can now be tried and rated by the potential audience themselves on the BBC Taster site.

Dmitry Shishkin, Digital Development Editor for BBC World Service, adds: “This latest innovation highlights the BBC’s strong commitment to serving young digital audiences in Africa – both editorially and technically. Digital revolution in Africa offers media companies great opportunities to grow the reach of their journalism and I am very happy that an African tech start-up is playing a key role in it”.

How does it look?
How does it work?
BBC Drop asks the user for a few favourite topics, or social media preferences, and then continues to learn what they like and dislike from what they swipe on screen. There is also the option of an even more personal news feed which incorporates the user’s own social feeds. The end result is users getting to see content specifically tailored to them and the stuff they are not interested in being filtered out.

What is the best thing about BBC Drop?

It has a vibrant easy-to-use design and has been successfully user-tested in several African countries. The ability to swipe away anything you want to ignore makes it the perfect way to access BBC news for the smart-phone generation.

Who made it?
A Kenyan start-up called Ongair who develop products that make it easier for companies to engage their audiences on instant messaging platforms.

Technical stuff:
The BBC Drop pilot is available on BBC Taster and can be tried out and rated for the next 3 months. It works well on all screens and devices. The site collects news content from across the BBC. The aggregation and tagging is made possible using BBC Juicer, a tool created by BBC News Labs, which takes in news sources from across the globe and automatically tags specific topics.

The launch of the BBC Drop pilot continues the BBC’s investment in digital innovation across Africa and it follows hot on the heels of another successful African –designed digital pilot: BBC Minute CatchUp. This useful news catch-up tool pilot was designed by a South African team of young innovators and has been viewed over 290,000 times since its own pilot began in Nov 2015.

Further highlights have included the launch of the Africa edition of the bbc.com website and the Africa live page on the BBC News website. Both of these have provided African internet users on the continent and in diaspora communities with dedicated digital spaces where they can find more African news stories and features. In addition, the BBC continues to focus on Africa’s massive online audience via many social media outlets, creating clickable and shareable content delivered by the BBC’s reporters across Africa.

The BBC Connected Studio team were in Nigeria at the start of this month, searching for new innovative ideas to reach young digital audiences across the country with the potential to scale across the continent of Africa and beyond. The team were in Lagos to launch the challenge and to inform digital companies and teams across Nigeria on how they can get involved and submit ideas. The BBC is looking to engage with younger audiences and grow their digital reach through mobile phones which are rapidly becoming the main source of consuming news across Africa.

BBC Connected Studio is the initiative tasked with driving digital innovation across the BBC and collaborating with the digital industry to do this. Digital companies in Nigeria can find out more and get involved using this site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/connectedstudio/projects/growing-mobile-audiences-nigeria. The call for idea submissions is open until midnight on 15 February 2016. Ideas will be selected for a funded pilot based on success criteria set out in the invitation to tender document (found via link above).

For more information on the Development studios click here: South Africa and Kenya.

BBC Connected Studio is an open innovation programme that explores new ideas for digital features and formats across BBC Online. It works closely with the wider digital and creative industries, sharing tools, assets and expertise to meet specific digital briefs from teams across the BBC. #BBCConnected

BBC World Service delivers news content around the world in English and 28 other language services, on radio, TV and digital, reaching a weekly audience of 210 million. The BBC attracts a weekly global news audience of 283 million people to its international news services including BBC World Service, BBC World News television channel and bbc.com/news.#BBCWorldService