The story behind the level of preparedness, the kinds of infrastructure being developed, and how this is to be utilised post-2010 by the beneficiaries of these new services can be told in the the tale of three cities.
One is rather well-off; another is developed, but has delivery constraints, and the third is extremely well-off and enthusiastically putting its tremendous resources to the good use of its citizens.
The one common denominator among these centres, however, is the desire to harness this newly-laid infrastructure to improve service delivery across all three levels of government.
And the world-class ICT infrastructure being made available to satisfy Fifa’s needs is central to this culture of improved service delivery as much of this capacity will revert to local and provincial government to give effect to their service mandate.
In this article, we explore the different strategies, priorities and services that the three different local government structures are employing to achieve their e-government aspirations.
While unified in their end-objective, the differing approaches reflect the fortunes and existing infrastructure and needs of these three centres – the City of Tshwane, Mangaung Local Municipality (Bloemfontein) and the Royal Bafokeng Administration.
Starting with the most privileged of the three, the city of Tshwane undoubtedly has the most sophisticated infrastructure and some of the most ambitious plans for its citizens post-2010.
The city’s 2010 IT manager, Neo Motlhabane, explains that wide-ranging improvements to the city’s infrastructure and high-end service delivery mechanisms are planned.
"The city is required to put in legacy IT to support the infrastructure during the games. That is our contribution; it’s minimal work, but a lot of co-ordination takes place between us and Telkom, and also the broadcaster," he explains.
This work revolves around the provision of the fibre infrastructure to meet Fifa’s broadcasting and Internet access requirements, which Telkom is laying on.
It is this valuable backbone that will provide the impetus to roll out city-wide services that extend beyond traditional government services.
"We are putting in a city-wide broadband network whereby the people will be able to connect to the Internet wirelessly throughout the city. We have put fibre throughout the city from Atteridgeville to Mamelodi to Olievenhoutbosch," he says. "From there we will be tapping into new, premium services."
The city will also be utilising this improved communications infrastructure to beef up its emergency, safety and security, and transport management services, both during and beyond the World Cup.
"We are trying to improve access into the city and will be using very complex software systems to direct the public entering our city," says Motlhabane.
The city’s antiquated analogue communication system for the police and emergency systems will also be transformed into a digital Terrestrial Trunked Radio, or Tetra, system that will significantly improve communication between these arms of the city EMS teams.
The last element that is due for an upgrade is the security surveillance system that will be extended to the precinct around the Loftus Versfeld stadium to assist with traffic management and public security.
Security and surveillance systems are also a priority for Mangaung Municipality, with IT manager Sello Radebe saying the authorities will be rolling out CCTV throughout Bloemfontein.
"The focal point is going to be in the CBD, but beyond 2010 we will roll out the CCTV system to all corners of the municipality," he says.
Similar to Tshwane, this same infrastructure will be made available for the provision of vastly improved security and disaster management services.
He notes that rolling out such infrastructure has been facilitated by a recent ruling by the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) that local authorities no longer need a licence to operate such networks.
The Mangaung Municipality will also be tapping into the substantial communications infrastructure being laid down by Telkom at the stadium. Unlike Tshwane, however, whose stadium is privately-owned, Mangaung owns the stadium. This means that the infrastructure will remain available for its own purposes.
"Together with Telkom we have already put in an extensive network core to be used during the Confed Cup and 2010, but beyond that the very same infrastructure is going to be used by the municipality for redundancy," says Radebe. "Fortunately, the stadium is not far from the municipal offices, so the very same network core installed at the stadium will be linked to the one that currently exists at the municipality."
Where priorities differ from Tswhane, though, is that Radebe and his team are working with the Department of Trade and Industry to establish visitor information centres for use during the World Cup which will then be used to deliver citizen information services.
These centres will provide free Internet access during the soccer tournament through which visitors will be able to access information on the city, including accommodation.
"We have also developed a website for tourism on which we will list all B&Bs in the city so people can book at B&Bs at these centres. Beyond 2010 we are going to link that service to the main municipal website whereby you will be able to access the B&Bs even if you are not in Bloemfontein. That is going to stimulate local economic development," he says.
Further plans include establishing a central contact centre at which the municipality’s residents can access municipal services and information.
As opposed to Tshwane’s plans to provide wireless broadband services, Mangaung will be committing resources to establish more youth centres at which they currently have access to free Internet-based services.
"We want to roll that out beyond the youth so that every citizen has access," says Radebe. "That will address e-government by which citizens can access municipal, national and provincial government services."
The final part of Mangaung’s plans relate to utilising the functionality of its website – developed to satisfy Fifa requirements – to market the municipality and promote local economic development.
Potentially the most interesting work is being done by the Royal Bafokeng Administration.
The interest stems partly from the fact that it is a tribal authority, not a local authority. More importantly, it is one of the most wealthy communities in South Africa thanks to the royalties it earns from the platinum mining on its land.
Rabolane Dagada, who is responsible for ICT and Knowledge Management for the Royal Bafokeng Administration, says that while the tribal authority has been rolling out its own infrastructure to serve its community, it is also working with the Rustenburg Municipality to link up with its 2010 plans.
"In the past three years we have successfully implemented an ERP and document management system, and a wireless broadband network that went partially live last year April," he says.
Despite this broadband network being available, Dagada says it is still not sufficient for its needs as it serves about 80 of the community’s schools with bandwidth intensive data, voice and video capabilities.
"So with the fibre we are going to inherit from 2010, we will be able to enhance what we already have. We will also by the end of this year, be laying a few kilometres of our own fibre. So at the end of the day we will connect our fibre to the 2010 one and the wireless broadband network," he says.
This additional capacity will be put to use to provide broadband services to community members, with income generated from this being ploughed back into further infrastructure development.
"What we are intending to do is to lease this infrastructure to a telecommunications company to take it over and run it on our behalf and also sell the excess bandwidth to businesses such as local mines and Sun City."