WhatsApp can fix potholes
Sometimes public servants just want to serve the public, so we created a way for government officials to solve South Africa’s problems via WhatsApp.
Engineering | Feersum NLU | Design
We don’t always see the incredible work our government does, partly because of clouded judgment, partly because there’s never been a place for us to engage with our politicians. Until now.
Govchat asked us to help them build a multi-channel citizen engagement platform, which would allow South African citizens and government officials to talk to each other and resolve problems in a number of different ways – USSD, a responsive website, and for the first time ever, WhatsApp.
Not just a place to leave problems and hope for the best; a place to gain insight into our communities, solve real problems, and have real conversations with real people.
A two-way street
As an ex-public servant himself, our client – Govchat founder Eldrid Jordaan – constantly challenged us to build a great experience for the public. But communication is a two-way street (hopefully one without any potholes), so the trick was to make it equally useful and pleasant for the ward councillors in a very short timeframe.
Knowing the boundaries, breaking them
A seemingly simple, yet critical part of the project was to make sure we integrated the exact ward boundaries, to make sure service requests reached the people that needed to see it. That meant collaborating with the IEC and their API.
Open minds, open source
With the Govchat product owner collaborating with our engineering and creative teams in an agile/scrum-based way of working, we were free to integrate open-source tech and bring this project to life without surprising anyone.
React, Redux, Material UI, Python, Django, Docker
WhatsApp, IEC, AAT for USSD, RapidPro for workflow management
Rancher, Kubernetes, Google Cloud
The first-ever citizen engagement platform on WhatsApp.
The result is so much more than the multi-channel citizen engagement platform we were after. South Africa is the first government to engage with its citizens using WhatsApp, and ultimately use it to make people’s lives better.
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Praekelt was exceptional in translating our complex process flows into a world-renowned platform that connects citizens and their governments easily and effectively.
- Feersum NLU