Government must utilise digital age

Digitise government business to deliver fast, efficient services and automate community meetings to get more input into understanding residents’ needs and concerns.

Digitise government business to deliver fast, efficient services and automate community meetings to get more input into understanding residents’ needs and concerns. Picture FILE

These were among many suggestions to come out of discussions by delegates attending an annual two-day information and communications technology (ICT) summit, now in its 13th year, at the international convention centre on Thursday and Friday last week.

This year, the summit addressed ways in which to align municipalities and government departments with the fourth industrial revolution.

Vodacom business managing executive Chris Ross defined the fourth industrial revolution as the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It includes cyber physical systems, the internet of things, cloud computing and cognitive computing.

In terms of its transformation in this digital age, Buffalo City Metro head of ICT Jongi Stuurman said plans were being implemented to make the metro a smart city with wi-fi hotspots across town, from Oxford Street into Duncan Village.

“We are rolling out two projects concurrently: installing fibre cables into Mdantsane, King William’s Town and all the way to Dimbaza, while the other is channelled along the Leaches Bay route.

“The projects are valued at more than R80-million and are due for completion by end of February next year.”

Stuurman said the wi-fi hot spots would be linked to 18 surveillance cameras situated at central points in a bid to create a safer metro.

The executive director for corporate services at Nelson Mandela Bay metro, Vuyo Zitumane, said ICT could play an important role in improving service delivery.

“The government has a role to deliver services to people, but you find that the turnaround time is inefficient.”

Zitumane used the example of Integrated Development Plans which local governments are required to compile to determine the development needs of a municipality.

Drawing up these plans involves public participation, which in theory gives citizens the opportunity to highlight and prioritise their development needs.

But, said Zitumane: “Even when IDP meetings are hosted, they aren’t accurate because less than a third of a community is represented and the people who attend don’t know the right questions to ask, so you don’t get the desired outcomes.

“When there’s no service delivery, ratepayers aren’t happy and are unlikely to pay, never mind the fact that pay-points are not accessible.”

Zitumane proposed municipalities develop software applications to address such issues and fast-track service delivery.

Bhisho legislature speaker Noxolo Kiviet challenged ICT companies to develop legislative drafting systems to assist in streamlining the development of bills and track the status of bills, especially in national parliament.

“We have also taken a step towards the revolution and recently revamped legislation.

“We have done away with the old system of combining debates into a mini booklet at the end of the year. Now everything is online for everyone to see and to give input at any time.” — mbalit@dispatch.co.za

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