Press Release: 15 September, 2022

Grab a grad aims to solve local government service delivery challenges

Speaking at last week’s Council of Mayors in East London, President Cyril Ramaphosa emphasised the need to strengthen local government. The president noted that “challenges at local government level undermine the country’s social and economic development programmes”. He went on to say that “When local government fails, it is not just service delivery that fails. It isn’t just that our people’s expectations are not met. The failure of local government has a direct and material impact on economic growth and jobs… The failure of local government is essentially the failure of government as a whole”. 

There is no debate that the state of local government in South Africa is alarming. The most recent report by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has highlighted significant systemic problems in local government that has led to a failure to provide basic services such as water, sanitation and refuse removal. They state that, of the 257 #municipalities in South Africa, only 16 (i.e. 6%) could be considered “stable”. They also pointed out that this dysfunction and deteriorating state of service delivery needed to be urgently addressed as it posed a threat to the objectives of the constitution itself.  

One of the key challenges in local government is the effective logging and tracking of incidents. Generally, there are multiple systems in different locations across the municipality that are used. Often, even within departments, different systems are used across different locations. Lack of central logging and monitoring of service delivery issues leads to poor service delivery. There is a common management adage that states “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” – and this is very clear in local government.  

Youth-based technology start-up Grab A Grad aims to solve the problems of local government. Grab A Grad has partnered with specialists in local government to develop a range of solutions that address the challenges experienced in this sector. One such solution is the development of a Municipal Incident Management System. This system allows for: centralised logging of service delivery issues, the allocation of the issues to resolution teams of municipal employees or contractors, and the tracking of the incident across the entire lifespan of the issue until resolution. The system is fully smart phone enabled and tracks the GPS location of the resolution team, checks whether the location of the team and the incident match, and allows for photo and video evidence from the field to be uploaded. All activities and messages related to the call are timestamped and logged, providing the full lifecycle history at any moment in time.  

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Dashboard of all service requests logged

Via this system, full visibility of all incidents logged across the municipality is provided. Metrics like number of incidents open, allocated, or resolved are all built into the system. The system includes automatic reminders of issues – incidents can be automatically escalated to management based on certain thresholds. Time to resolution is also tracked and this can be drilled down to service type (e.g. road infrastructure or electricity) or service team. This system empowers Mayors, politicians, Municipal Managers and senior management to measure performance at a granular level and implement effective consequence management and accountability which is severely needed to address the service delivery issues currently present at a local government level. 

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A live view of all incidents across Cape Town Metro and Stellenbosch Municipality

The most important aspect of this system is that it is built using the capability in Microsoft Office 365 and leverages the fact that the majority of South African municipalities currently already buy Microsoft Office. Therefore, usage of the system incurs no additional licencing cost. The system leverages the existing investment of the municipality. Because the system is built in Office 365, it is also completely cloud based and therefore reduces the dependency on the municipal ICT infrastructure (a lot of which is sub-optimal). Microsoft 365 provides an enterprise grade environment used by the largest corporations in the world, and this is the environment the solution is built in. 

This approach provides municipalities with a cost effective, incredibly powerful, fully managed digital platform equipped with industry leading collaboration tools and leveraging the full capability of the Microsoft Cloud, along with the associated security and robustness required for Office, Exchange, SharePoint, and Teams. No additional software, hardware, or services are required. In addition to these benefits, the solution is also mobile ready, meaning that staff can access these applications from wherever they are, on whatever device they require – at no additional cost. The solution is scalable and extendable by design – and as it has been developed by South African youth, can be easily modified to meet whatever additional requirements the municipalities require.  

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