Local municipalities can, through partnerships with the ICT sector, leapfrog their global counterparts and deliver high-quality services to their constituents through the use of technology.
Speaking at the annual research colloquium hosted by the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), Mickey Mashale, chief sales officer for Vodacom’s Enterprise Business Unit, says Vodacom Business has capabilities beyond fixed and mobile services that could be applied in municipalities in order to help address some of the challenges affecting the communities across the country.

Mashale says: “We see many opportunities for municipalities from the range of services we offer to other organisations, government institutions and in the activities of our global partners. These could help municipalities leapfrog the normal evolution of service delivery to become truly world class. Efficiencies enabled through our solutions can also assist Municipalities in driving revenue-enhancement initiatives.”

For example, Mashale told attendees about the way Yinchuan, the capital of the northern Chinese province of Ningxia Hui, has adopted new technologies to become a showcase of great service delivery.

Yinchuan has partnered with technology providers to fully automate and digitise service delivery to its two million inhabitants. The range of services varies from the important to the truly fantastical, such as offering holographic info-desks and solar-powered waste bins.

“One of the most striking changes in Yinchuan was the use of mobile technology to ease the flow of payment, of people and of information. Today, the municipality uses technologies such as facial recognition, radio-frequency identification (RFID) and mobile phones to streamline everything from purchasing a bus ticket with your face on it to receiving approval for a medical procedure with your mobile phone,” says Mashale.

Mashale explained that Vodacom Business offers many of these mobile-enabled digital services to its more than 8 000 business clients on its national network, which covers 99.8% of South Africa. She explained many of these services were also available to municipalities and other service providers to local government.

“Vodacom Business has implemented unique solutions to its customers, such as real-time stock management platforms and systems to manage comprehensive in-memory computing and realtime analytics such as the likes of SAP HANA.

“Our Internet of Things (IoT) team has further enabled many service providers with the platform to offer their services to clients. In local government, Vodacom Business solutions have enabled municipalities to engage better with citizens and has led to improved service delivery,” says Mashale.

Vodacom recently partnered with municipal managers, academics and other businesses to develop a water management system that can track and manage a municipality’s delivery of clean water in addition to the detection and repair of leaks. In future, the system could even enable municipalities to manage and bill individual water users in different ways, depending on their water consumption.

According to Mashale, Vodacom is in a unique position to partner with all tiers of government to help incubate, develop and manage these digital services.

“With our unmatched reach and access to world-class technology, we could not only act as a provider of enabling technologies to municipalities, but we could act as hub for information sharing by interested parties. Our network is a platform on which we and other businesses will build these world-class services. We look forward to working with SALGA and its members to make this possible.”