Being based in an Open Source solution, the first approach of the development process was to identify existing solutions that could properly address to the requirements identified during the design phase.
In any case, during the course of the development process, a set of features that were inexistent in Mark-a-Spot were developed by the team with the main purpose of:
• Respecting the requirements identified in the co-design phase;
• Adapting the technology to the local context: adapting the solution to the functioning of the Municipal system and of the SWM service stakeholders, adapting the solution to the technology readiness of people and to the technological means available to the main public.
In this line, the newly developed features were:
• A Front Page interface, with platform usage statistics;
• A Management section, where local power-users will be able to control the platform usage, moderate the community as well as have access to reports of the usage;
• A beta version of a Report section, allowing data visualization of the citizen reports according to the needs identified in the co-design phase;
• A Notification system, that alerts users via SMS and Email about updates in the platform;
• An SMS and Voice Gateway, allowing the interaction with the platform though normal cell phones.
This project’s main contribution to current similar platforms is the adaptation to unique technical and cultural features of the developing world, through the use of SMS technology, easy to use interfaces and the implementation of business process management features that allow issues to be redirected to the appropriate stakeholders.
The new Front Page was designed to:
• Give emphasis to how the platform works;
• Show usage statistics of the Platform, establishing a first step towards the implementation of gamification tools to enhance user participation in the platform.
In order to do so, a set of actions were undertaken:
• Content restructuring with banner and call-outs, how does it work, how to participate and platform statistics
• Loading script that animates the logo while the page is loading using jQuery
One of the main aspects of the Platform future sustainability is the ability of local power users to interact and manage the community, having a specific area to manage citizen reports and to respond to the requests that were created.
These users don’t have, though, access to administrator feature that would allow them to change the look and feel of the platform or to other technical tasks. At this moment, the root user of the platform is reserved for the technical partner of the pilot experimentation.
To implement a specific section for Community and Platform Management, the team created:
• Custom area for “managers” (login required)
• Edit issues page with search and filter capabilities and quick edit feature for each issue listed
• View statistics page with custom dashboard
• Inquiries page with user groups and pre-defined messages and polls that can be sent via SMS
A newly made section to allow local stakeholders to have access to data visualization about the Platform usage, getting a rapid snapshot of the SWM service status was created.
In order to allow users to interact with the platform through SMS, a module called Ntxuva Open311 SMS was created specifically for Drupal. This module translates citizen written text in SMSs into commands that implement actions in the system.
Currently, the module allows users to:
• Report problems in waste containers (by writing a pre-defined code like the one shown in the picture below);
• Request information about a report, by sending the report id.
In an initial module, due to barriers in getting a free toll number and a short code in Mozambique, the SMS module uses a Smartphone with a local mobile phone number to receive SMS and interact with the platform through an online service called Telerivet.
During the last project mission to Maputo, a contact with a local carrier was established in order to unlock the barrier of getting a short code. For the pilot usage there seems to be the possibility of using a toll-free short code which will avoid the necessity of using a Smartphone and Telerivet as a gateway between SMSs and the platform.
VoIP Drupal and Open311 Integration
Apart from integration of SMS messages with Ntxuva, an effort was undertaken to allow users to interact with the Platform through Voice calls: a low cost IVR system that will allow users to report problems in the SWM system and show their voice messages as comments in the web portal.
In order to implement this solution, VoIP Drupal, a solution created by Leo Burd from MIT MediaLab was used. The usage of this tool in the pilot will depend on the capability of implementing a local VoIP line in Mozambique. Contacts with local carriers are being undertaken.
One of the most important aspects to ensure that the Platform has the expected impact in the quality of service in short term is its ability to provide the right information to the right person at the right time through the right mean. In order to do so, all the stakeholders were involved in workshops to co-design the information flows of the platform and how the notification system would provide information to all stakeholders.
Workshops proved to be useful to create a better awareness of the role of an ICT platform in supporting the coordination of the operational response of the WMS among all stakeholders. At this stage, almost all stakeholder preferred to be notified by SMS. In future developments it is expected that email or API integration will be selected by stakeholders like CMM or Enviroserv, which will directly benefit from the having access to the information collected by the system.