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Smart cities in South Africa verses smart communities

It is projected that by 2050, 80% of South African population will be based in urban areas. This is according to Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Deputy Minister Andries Nel.This influx of people in urban centers comes with both opportunities and challenges.

To accommodate this increasing number of people cities will need to be more efficient in service delivery and more engaging with the citizens.

The idea of Smart cities in South Africa is fast becoming an option for many. This involves the application of top notch technology to connect and enhance most of the basic services like water electricity, transportation, waste management road network , billing services and crime prevention among others.

To fully realize this vision, the discussion should shift from being centered around smart cities to include the concept of smart citizens. The catalyst behind the adoption of any form of technology is always the end user. As more and more users start looking for technology solutions from local governments, cities will have no option but to invest heavily in the development of smart city initiatives.

With their expectations raised high due to digital solutions from the likes of companies paving way for future advances in technology, citizens are now pressing that’s local governments keep trend with these changes. Lengthy wait times on calls, long queues, inaccurate billing and poor services are some among many pressing issues citizens want ironed out.

Today’s citizen wants an omni-channel experience where service delivery issues can be reported and solved from the convenience of a mobile app. They expect the use of social media platforms like Facebook ,and twitter to channel queries directly. With this awakening demand from the millions of South African population that will stimulate the local government to initiate transformative ideologies to meet the needs of the smart citizen

Johannesburg is already having a feel of these upcoming technological fashions. Already a mobile app has been developed for motorists to report faults on the city’s 7000 km road. Incidences like crimes, suspicious activities, power cuts, locating bus routes and schedules as well as see upcoming public events

this apps empower the citizens with the necessary digital tools to interact with the city and generate a culture of shares responsibility and transparency. By keeping an eye on issues like illegal dumping, crimes, burst water pipes and broken traffic lights, the city is able to keep close watch over millions of city people.

A good example is the City of Johannesburg Twitter representative ‘TK’. Over 200,000 foolwers can keep in touch with the city’s day to day happenings straight from the @CityofJoburgZA account.

Local governments will be required to integrate these new digital platforms into their core of their business. A very important step will be the creation of a ‘single view of the citizens’. This will help give the city that visibility of a people of various municipalities and enabling tailored responses to handle any problem

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