Turning crowdsourced information into action

As well as being a key part of people's social lives, social media has a role to play in fostering dialogue between people and the institutions providing the information and feedback loop required to better service customers and citizens.

CitiVox's core technology merges mobile communications, mapping and reporting for institutions and governments so that they can better handle citizen requests and aggregate the information into a usable format. By better managing citizen voices, institutions can help enhance citizen voices and the services that institutions offer in order to promote transparency and a higher quality of life.

According to Jorge Soto, co-founder of CitiVox, the technology simply enables this sort of service. “The technology platform is just another tool. The strength relies in the connection between people,” said Soto. He continued, saying “[t]echnology itself is less important than the capacity to deliver available, accessible and understandable information.”

The first deployment of this platform was in Honduras and Mexico alongside local governments in order to identify, track and respond to life quality complaints, crime reporting and election monitoring. In Mexico, a citizen reporting strategy was implemented in an attempt to enhance the government's dialogue with the people of Guerrero state. 

In one example, the Ministry of Public Security in Guerrero set-up an SMS public alert service so that people could get useful information on what impacts their daily life. As the initiative built trust, user numbers grew, building a database of over 60,000 contacts in urban and rural areas. The second step was to start a citizen-government dialogue asking people to report quality of life issues and setting a report management team in the government. 

Aware that people interact daily with a wide variety of devices and technology interfaces, the CitiVox platform can be customised to receive reports from any source - smartphones, SMS, email, Twitter, Facebook, email, websites. 

These reports can be labeled in different customisable categories, geolocated to make them viewable on a map, assigned a status and sent to specific people for further tracking. CitiVox has enabled workflows so that report management can be done within an institution where it is easy to know what the status of the reports are and who is responsible for solving them. Also, report metrics and analytics dashboards have been included to compare essential report characteristics as well as to track internal report solving productivity among staff. 

In San Pedro Sula, Honduras, a similar deployment was made. There, smartphones were given to policemen and trained to report crimes. Despite the digital divide in the region, policemen became familiar with smartphone use and after an adaptation process, mobile crime reporting started to substitute older crime reporting and follow-up processes in the police department. 

The CitiVox platform became the operations hub for both Mexican and Hondurean public officers; once a report from a citizen and police officer was received, it was verified, categorised and assigned to the officer resposible for solving the issue.

The state of Guerrero Public Safety Ministry set new communication and service level standards which required a response within 48 hours to any report filed, and encouraged communication on the report status until its resolution. It was the first time in which people were certain that the government was listening to them and doing something about it. And citizens responded positively; people who received prompt responses after sending reports started to participate more and even started to report on more sensitive issues, such as violent crimes.

In San Pedro Sula, report analytics helped police chiefs to build strategies and understand crime patterns in the city. Crime spots were easily identified so police distribution in the city was adjusted accordingly. Also, after analysing crime reports, the high homicide rates of the city were better understood linking them to armed robberies and an increased gun possession trend.

For more information, please visit: www.citivox.com

TOOLS USED:  CitiVox Citizen Relationship Management platform and SyncSMS or Frontline SMS

REACH: Mexico and Honduras

COST: An implementation for a mid-size organisation (20 users) is around $60,000 USD per year plus $250 per user per month. Costs to citizen users may include SMS usage fees. 

RESOURCES: 1-5 person team in organisation dedicated to report management and follow-up and trainers for 2 weeks

TIME: 3-5 months deployment

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: 4 out of 5; institutional involvement and leadership are the most non-technical challenges that must be considered in this type of projects

Story by Juan Casanueva