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MobiSAM, an important initiative - VCDate Released: Fri, 6 September 2013 14:15 +0200
Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Saleem Badat has endorsed the launch of MobiSAM, a new initiative between Rhodes University and Makana Municipality to look at ways of reporting the lack of effective provision of basic services such as water, energy and the like.
The MobiSAM system is an easy and accessible option which seeks to investigate how mobile phone technology can be used to improve citizen participation in local government.
The project has been driven by Associate Professor in the Computer Science Department, Hannah Thinyane.
Dr Badat supports MobiSAM and is excited about the opportunity to work with Makana Municipality on service delivery matters.
“We are happy that one of our academic staff members is coming up with a practical solution to the challenges that iRhini/Grahamstown community is facing such as water challenges,” says Dr Badat.
“We hope that this initiative will go a long way to improve communications between various stakeholders in iRhini/Grahamstown,” added Dr Badat.
“We all know there are problems with things like water in Grahamstown,” Prof Thinyane said. “MobiSAM gives us the ability to help solve these problems by reporting them quickly and easily.”
The municipality is enthusiastic about the opportunities provided by this new technology. According to Municipal Spokesperson, Mr Mncedisi Boma, “This is a very good initiative that will create an interactive system between Makana Municipality and the community.”
“It will be easier for residents to report their problems directly and get instant help from us which is something that never happened before,” he added.
The technology allows residents to report on matters related to the provision of services directly to the Municipality and receive responses via SMS or email. The project goes even further than this by exploring other avenues in improving citizen/government dialogue.
“The MobiSAM platform provides mechanisms to support some levels of dialogue, but sometimes you need more space than just a response to a question or an SMS,” she said. “The project therefore includes working with media houses (such as Grocott's Mail) and providing training on how to monitor service delivery at local government level.”
MobiSAM also facilitates important data collection with outages being tracked as a by-product of reports that are made. “This can be used for two important tasks by different groups of people: Makana can use it to help them with planning activities such as budgets for future work and citizens can use the information to support evidence based engagement with the municipality,” she explained.
Rhodes University and Makana Municipality are working together to look at ways of reporting problems with the provision of basic services and will be using the MobiSAM system as an easy and accessible option.
Mr Boma said that the municipality will be using Community Development Workers who are being trained in the technology to assist people with registering on their mobile phones. Those who are able to register on their own are also encouraged to do so.
If you have access to the internet on your phone (facebook, mxit, whatsapp...), then you can use MobiSAM. To be involved, register on MobiSAM using your cell phone or computer. . Open your internet browser and go to www.mobisam.net to register. Once you have registered you are able to participate and talk to your municipality.