Johannesburg’s “pothole app” is one that every African city should have

The Find & Fix app, aka the pothole app, is no doubt one of the best innovations to come out of South Africa in recent years, one that has been described as turning Johannesburg into a ‘smart city.’ Developed in 2014 by Intervate for the Johannesburg Road Agency (JRA) to enhance their ‘reachability’ and customer service, the app allows road users report road-related defects at the click of a button.

According to the JRA, the city’s population is constantly growing and this means that the agency “must always be at the forefront of innovation and community engagement, empowering citizens to be our eyes and ears everywhere to report [mostly] road related issues.” Residents can also log in general issues outside the work scope of JRA on the app, “they [JRA] have connections with other organisations, and are able to push those reports through,” said Lionel Moyal, IT systems expert and head of Intervate.

Snap it. Send it. We’ll fix it.

The app enables road users snap road defects such as potholes, a storm water drain, missing manhole covers, defective traffic signs, weeds growing on the road and other infrastructural faults. Then they can register the location and notify the JRA for urgent attention. Although it’s not designed as an emergency response app, the JRA team might be on location in a space of four hours, depending on the type of defect.

Shortly after its launch, the app scooped three accolades in the Microsoft Partner Network Awards – Microsoft Application Development of the Year Award, Public Sector Industry Award and the prestigious Managing Director’s Award

TheSouthAfrican reports that apps like Find & Fix go a long way in transforming a city into a smart one. “While South Africa may have to wait some time to see these kinds of integrated city-wide systems, the good news is that the first steps on the journey to smart cities are starting to materialise,” explained Intervate’s Lionel Moyal.

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According to him, smart cities can be realized by mass-scale adoption of citizen reporting and engagement tools like the Find & Fix app, a wide array of smart city services across many areas of service delivery and many different departments or city authorities and the availability of big data insights that are processed by sophisticated systems, using machine learning.

Surely, the Find & Fix app is one that every African city should have. Governments and agencies across Africa should take a cue from the Johannesburg Road Agency and create apps that allow for active citizen engagement in reporting issues such as road conditions, community safety, waste management, etc. The app is available to smart phones with the Windows 8, Android, or iOS operating system.

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