MobiSAM Citizen Baseline Survey: Leaving no one behind.
Thanks to the participation of 440 residents, MobiSAM successfully completed a baseline survey this past week.
MobiSAM which stands for Mobile Social Accountability Monitoring MobiSAM is a citizen participation tool aimed at increasing communication between Makana Municipality and its citizens. MobiSAM was officially formed in 2011 as a way of improving Makana Municipality’s communication and responsiveness around Grahamstown’s water services through the use of mobile phones.
MobiSAM version 2 will be launching in September this year but as part of improving the underlying way that communication is supported between the municipality and citizens, MobiSAM conducted a citizen survey to understand how Makana residents currently use technology, in which languages and for what purposes.
The survey also aimed to understand how residents currently communicate with the municipality. It also asked about media access, interest in media content, service delivery satisfaction and current levels and methods of participation. At the same time as the citizen survey was underway, MobiSAM was also busy conducting a survey with Makana Municipality staff.
The purpose of the survey
The results from the Municipality survey will be used to strengthen the internal communications within the municipality. Prof Caroline Khene, MobiSAM’s co-director stated “we realize that building internal communications within the municipality is a significant part of improving external communication by the municipality.”
The results from the citizen survey will be used to better understand the socio- economic context in which the mobile application will be operating.
One noticeable factor which is not only relevant to Makana but throughout South Africa is the socio-economic inequalities and their impact on access to information, use of technology and levels of participation which are all key features of the MobiSAM project. In order for the MobiSAM project to be successful, it has to take into account the reality of inequality and ensure that it remains true to its caption that MobiSAM be useful for everyone, everywhere.
Inequalities in information communication and technology
South Africa is facing many developmental challenges, inequality in South Africa is on the increase and so is the disparity in access to information and communications technology (ICT). We live in an increasingly digitalised world and technology is becoming not only a basic part of our lives but it is also increasingly becoming a key part of improving governance, accessing public services and participating in local government affairs.
While technology and the internet is an essential tool which can be used to empower and transform the lives of the poorest in our society, the economically disadvantaged have the lowest level of access to the internet, advanced technologies and the benefits of e-governance.
Some factors that bar people from accessing these include poverty; high device, data, and telecommunications charges; and infrastructure and digital literacy challenges.
Dealing with the challenge
While the launch of MobiSAM is a promising step forward, it is crucial that the project leaves no-one behind. The MobiSAM baseline survey aims to identify from the results, some of the potential barriers to experiencing the benefits of the mobile and e-governance project and to cater for these barriers in its implementation strategy.
Results from the survey will shed light on how large the socio-economic and technological divide is in Makana and some key issues such as service delivery satisfaction, cell phone and social media usage, media access, level of participation and engagement according to key demographics.
Over the following weeks, MobiSAM intends to communicate the survey results through local media platforms, on the MobiSAM Facebook, twitter and Blog. You are invited to engage with the results and join the conversation on how MobiSAM can truly be a project for everyone, everywhere.
Communications and Citizen Engagement Officer