Connecting townships, villages with smart tech
The Public Sector ICT (PSICT) Forum will hold its "Smart Cities, Township and Villages: Connecting the Future" event, in Polokwane, on 14 May.
The forum will explore how SA can develop and grow its villages and townships using smart city technology.
Township and villages tend to be highly underserviced, lacking basic services, like running water and adequate sanitation. In the case of villages situated far away from the major hubs, it can be difficult for these communities to have access to basic healthcare and there tends to be fewer job opportunities.
The PSICT Forum decided to shed light on these issues and look for solutions to improve the lives of people living in townships and rural areas. The idea of implementing smart solutions in these areas is to ensure these communities become self-sufficient.
There are many challenges when implementing smart city initiatives. Some key concerns are complex technologies and project security. New policies and regulations need to be established and government departments need to have the necessary framework in place for these projects.
According to Lumko Mtimde, CEO of Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA), the biggest challenges for initiating smart villages and townships are access to reliable electricity, availability of broadband infrastructure, access to affordable fast-speed connectivity and the cost of data.
One thing that cannot be neglected when implementing smart technologies is community engagement and support. This will ensure the project runs smoothly and will be sustainable, thus adopting a "for the people, by the people" approach.
Mtimde notes the support for these types of projects can be wide-ranging, including training and skills development, change management and protection of infrastructure.
He says USAASA provides support and payments of subsidies through its Universal Service and Access Fund for the assistance of broadcasting, electronic communications network services and electronic communications services.
"USAASA also subsidies any electronic communications network service licences for the purpose of financing the construction or extension of electronic communications networks in underserviced areas, as defined in terms of the Electronic Communications Act." Mtimde continues.
The event aims to shed some light on how to modify smart city technology and apply it to our most underserved communities, to help them become more self-sustainable. It will cover key topics like methods of modifying smart city technologies to suit the needs of townships and villages, and how to bring connectivity to townships and villages that do not have the necessary infrastructure in place.