After fully equipping the Eastern Cape’s OR Tambo District Municipality with internet connectivity, Vodacom has launched a SmartCitizen app to aid service delivery and encourage an active citizenry.
Thetha Nathi, which means “Talk to us”, was officially launched at the SALGA Municipal Innovative Infrastructure Conference, held at Emperor’s Palace from 13 to 15 June 2018, and is the first app of its kind to be launched in the country.
In conjunction with a specialist call centre to support the app’s deployment, residents of the OR Tambo District Municipality in Umtata in the Eastern Cape will now be able to engage local government around issues relating to municipal service delivery, including the ability to report service issues and monitor their resolution in real time.
The app erases the need to wait in queues at the municipal offices in order to report service delivery issues like electricity outages, blocked drains, burst pipes, missing manhole covers and refuse issues. Residents can keep track of reported issues via the app, will receive notifications on progress, and will also be able to find local government facilities and engage ward councillors directly.
The app also features an accompanying web-based management and reporting portal that the municipality uses to receive incident reports, allocate them for resolution, track the time taken to fix issues that have been reported, set and review the status of incidents, and pull management reports.
At the launch of the Thetha Nathi app, Vodacom’s Executive Head of Department Business Solutions Architecture and Systems Integration, Dr Ronn Mulea underlined the importance of broadband infrastructure in local communities to improve the efficiency of service delivery.
“Optimal communication channels are integral to improving service delivery – channels unlike those that exist in our current government municipalities – which is why we need to improve on the existing infrastructure,” said Dr Mulea.
“The key to overcoming the hurdles that stand in the way of our country’s progression lies in linking citizens to connectivity solutions.”
There are plans to expand Thetha Nathi to other municipalities in the country, but residents of the OR Tambo District Municipality can access this service by downloading the app for Android and Apple devices, or by making use of the USSD service by dialing *134*606# from their mobile phones. The Thetha Nathi app is has a variety of language options, including Xhosa and English.