KEY INDIVIDUAL(s)

Caroline Khene

WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM
THIS CASE STUDY

Policy / decision-makers
Practitioners / professionals
Technical people
Civic Tech initiatives

KEY CATEGORIES

Accountability

Municipality

Citizen Reporting

CONTACT CTIN

CASE STUDY

Improving Makana Municipality’s communication and responsiveness

TYPE OF ORGANISATION RESPONSIBLE FOR THE INITIATIVE

NAME

EMAIL

WEBSITE

MobiSAM

N/A

STATUS

COUNTRY

FOUNDING DATE

Live

South Africa

2011

BRIEF OVERVIEW OF CASE STUDY

MobiSAM (Mobile Social Accountability Monitoring) began as an idea between friends discussing their water problems at the height of Grahamstown’s water outages. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a more effective way in which Makana could update its citizens on scheduled and unscheduled outages and wouldn’t it be even greater if there was a way resident could effectively report problems directly to Makana?

Taking cues from these initial discussions among concerned and connected citizens, MobiSAM was officially formed as a way of improving Makana Municipality’s communication and responsiveness around Grahamstown’s water services through the use of mobile phones.

The application aimed to provide an avenue to report water-related problems directly to the municipality for users registered with the application in addition to receiving updates directly from the Municipality. The MobiSAM application also included a mobile polling application that allowed individuals to voice their opinion, rank their most pressing needs as well as the quality of current service delivery in their neighbourhood.

Between 2011 and 2014, MobiSAM managed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Makana, register a number of users as well collate the intelligence gathered from residents by way of mobile polls.

MobiSAM aims to support citizen engagement and government responsiveness, through providing platforms (not only technology-related) that citizens can use to engage in social accountability practices. MobiSAM plays a strategic role, as it brings together individual and collective action with real-time access to mechanisms to report issues to all key stakeholders.

The platform also leverages SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook and intermediaries to receive and record citizens’ report

What was the problem & What was the approach taken to it?

The Problem:

Lack of accountability and transparency on the part of the municipality of to delivery services to citizens.

The Approach:

The MobiSAM technology incorporates both a reporting interface for citizens (via a mobile application (feature phone or smartphone), website, and SMS), and also a Ticketing function (mainly used by the municipality to address internal communication challenges) used for:

Direct citizen reporting (water, sanitation, roads, electricity, stray animals, and finance-related)
Collating and visualizing reported problems through heat maps and graphs per ward area.
Monitoring reports by all registered users (citizens, civil society, media, municipalities) to facilitate evidence-based engagement
Communication enabling the municipality to send SMSs to update citizens on the progress of their reports, provide information regarding planned/unplanned outages and push out service delivery polls to assess the situation in different wards or citizen satisfaction in addressing an issue.

LESSONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
  • It is not only about the technology but about how the challenges are framed in order to lobby with civil society
  • It is critical to find ways to navigate the various government departments and their levels of responsiveness
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NOTE: The case studies submitted will be used in content creation, we will write articles on your work that engages with our readers. The case studies will also be compiled and added to our CTIN database of civic tech case studies and shared through our various channels.