One area of expertise in VPUU is the use of information and communication technologies for development, or ICT4D, through which we enable learning, communication and the exchange of knowledge, as well as the collection, storage and interpretation of information.
ICT4D holds a lot of promise in a country like South Africa, where chronic socio-economic inequality has caused a severe infrastructural and digital divide between the well-off and the poor. In this context, ICT4D has the power to change the way that social issues are identified and inform how solutions are conceptualised, designed and implemented, thus increasing the speed, efficiency and efficacy of basic service delivery.
VPUU uses ICT4D to further its vision of improving quality of life in low income areas, building community social capital and empowering people through technological innovation to identify their own needs for basic services. Many ICT4D projects and interventions are created and managed using open source tools and software and designed for local community use and engagement.
VPUU currently runs several successful ICT4D-related projects and has more in the pipeline. We have successfully established two Community Registration Offices (CRO), one in Lotus Park in Gugulethu and one in Monwabisi Park in Khayelitsha. Among other things, these enable sustained enumeration of informal households which is used for securing tenure rights in these areas.
Also under ICT4D is the Cityspec App, a mobile inspection tool which is used to improve delivery of essential services such as taps, toilets and street lights in low income areas.
Another crucial function of VPUU’s ICT4D is conducting and facilitating surveys, including baseline surveys, household surveys and safety surveys. For this, VPUU trains up community fieldworkers in map reading and the use of open source mobile applications for mapping and data capturing. The insights generated from these surveys illustrate visible improvements in targeted areas and as well as going on to inform social developmental interventions.