Smart village and township trials to come to Limpopo

The Public Sector ICT Forum undertakes to use technologies brought by the fourth industrial revolution to trial smart solutions in remote areas.
The Public Sector ICT Forum undertakes to use technologies brought by the fourth industrial revolution to trial smart solutions in remote areas.

The Limpopo chapter of the Public Sector ICT Forum has resolved to trial a smart township and smart village concept in the province. The ambition is to pioneer the concept in Limpopo and, once successful, to roll it out more widely across the country and internationally.

Sidima Ntsangani, head: applications development, SITA says: "We need to think of our citizens and what their needs are. We're always talking about smart cities, but why aren't we talking more generally about smart townships and villages? We should be exporting our own intellectual property around smart townships to SADC and Brazil." Mandla Mkhwanazi, digital business leader of Transnet and chair of the Public Sector ICT Forum, further expands on the concept. He gave the example of patients in deep rural areas, where transport is a challenge, who sometimes spend an entire day waiting in line to collect their chronic medication, only to be told the medication is finished or hasn't arrived. "You can just imagine the cost implications of travelling back and forth to the clinic or hospital to collect the chronic medication," he says.

The solution, according to Mkhwanazi, is a smart machine that will be mobile-driven to enable citizens to register via a feature phone or smartphone.

"As soon as the date to collect their medication is closer, they will receive an SMS to alert them that their medication is being dispatched to the nearest point of collection, which can be the closest tuckshop, police station, school, shop, filling station or any other collection place chosen by the patient.

"As soon as the medication is delivered, another SMS will be sent to the patient to let him or her know that the medication is ready for collection, with a pin code to use on the dispensing smart machine located at the nearest collection point of choice. This smart solution will save people who are collecting chronic medication time and transport money."

Although timelines for the trial are yet to be determined, Mkhwanazi believes Limpopo is the ideal destination, because in most cases, the focus has been on transforming cities into smart cities, even though the majority of people in SA still live in townships and villages.

In addition to the smart township project, the forum also committed to establish a 4IR working group, which would contribute towards the development of an Industry 4.0 roadmap for Limpopo. Members of the working group will share and present the roadmap and plan to the provincial leadership once all has been put in place.

Mthoko Mncwabe, CIO at Airports Company South Africa and board member of the Public Sector ICT Forum, notes once the roadmap is co-ordinated in Limpopo, the objective is to replicate this and assist with the alignment of the other provinces.

"We're confident that the team will be afforded the opportunity to interact with provincial leadership once the working group is ready."

A third initiative of the working group is to develop an outreach programme to communicate and explain the benefits of the fourth industrial revolution to the wider community.

"It's about time that we practically show values and benefits of these evolving technologies," says Mothibi Ramusi, CIO of National Lotteries Commission and board member of the Public Sector ICT Forum.

"We need to engage with citizens in a language that's understood by them, so we ensure we have their buy-in on the benefits. We also need to engage with the universities to ensure we're developing relevant skills for the fourth industrial revolution."

Members of the working group include professionals from the Public Sector ICT Forum, Limpopo Connexion, University of Limpopo, the office of the Provincial Government IT Officer, Tshwane University of Technology (Limpopo Campus), Mustek, MTN Business and ITWeb Brainstorm.

Baldwin Ramasobane, acting CEO of Limpopo Connexion, says of the initiative: "It's time to prove the forum is not a talk shop; it's time for action. Limpopo has the infrastructure and facilities; we must show by example and lead where possible."

Mkhwanazi concludes by saying the forum is committed to not only deliberate challenges, but to go a step further and take resolutions, which can be implemented and continuously monitored closely by the board. "The PSICTF wants to ensure that it contributes to the social and economic challenges of the country by coming up with concrete solutions which solve our immediate community or country challenges using fourth industrial revolution technologies and trends."

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