Date Published: July 26, 2017, 10:09 p.m.
his case study presents the Barrios Activos SMART solution, a tool created by the Argentinan start-up Kit Urbano in 2013. The application allows citizens to report incidents and hazards regarding city services. And it helps the city increase management efficiency by identifying and solving problems quicker. It also describes the specific example of the city of San Luis, Argentina.
Kit Urbano is an Argentinean startup created in 2013 and specialized in creating innovative technological solutions improving the link between the citizen and the public administration. One of its main SMART tools is Barrios Activos (“active neighbourhood”), a collaborative intelligence application that allow citizens to report hazards related to the city’s maintenance (e.g. transportation, cleanliness, security, public services, etc.) in a platform that aggregates and centralizes the information. It enables the administration to visualize the main areas of conflict, and provide feedback to the citizen regarding the resolution of reported incidents.
The Barrios Activos platform offers a new and direct communication channel between the citizen and the local government; promoting civic engagement and active listening from the administration. It also allows the municipality to increase the transparency and efficiency of municipal management and improve the quality of the services thanks to a better resources management. In fact, the municipality may reduce public expenses dedicated to services audit as it creates “Observer citizens” who help the municipality to quickly identify and solve problems. Barrios Activos also contributes to improved decision-making as it generates concrete and reliable information such as real-time statistics, demographic data, citizen satisfaction analysis per topic and geographic location. It allows the local government to adapt its policies and to look for solutions that correspond to citizens’ real needs.
The Barrios Activos solution combines a mobile application for citizens to report hazards and a private Management Dashboard. The latter allows the municipality to establish a direct link with the citizen and monitor the issues reported. Barrios Activos is offered as a SaaS (Software as a Service) cloud based system, a low-cost, easy-to use solution that can be quickly implemented by municipalities; as they only pay for the service and not for the design and maintenance of the infrastructure. The cost of Barrios Activos varies according to the size of the municipality, ranging from 1,000€ per month for cities of less than 20,000 inhabitants, to 6,000€ per month for cities with 1 million inhabitants and above. According to Kit Urbano, the solution is 14 times less expensive than traditional management techniques and 8 times less than a call centre. Kit Urbano offers technical training for the municipality to deploy the tool, toolkits on how to use the platform, support to adapt the visual identity to the city’s image, online and offline kits of communications tool to raise awareness about the platform, technological support services (domain, hosting, technical support, software update, etc.).
Since its creation in 2014, Barrios Activos has been implemented in 9 countries, connecting more than 8,500 municipalities in Latin America and has more than 15.000 active residents reporting incidents. One of the most successful experiences is the city of San Luis, Argentina, with a population of 169,000. The municipality deployed the Barrios Activos solution in 2015. After 20 days for the deployment of the tool including personalizing the tools to the city’s visual identity and training the municipal team, San Luis launched a 2-month communications campaign to ensure citizen endorsement and participation. It combined online tools (social media, website) and offline (flyers in public sites, and letters sent to the 60,000 households of the city). The initiative was a success as more than 10,000 residents regularly use the platform, corresponding to 2% of the city population. In addition, the municipality observed that there was no increase in the total quantity of reports received, but response time were improved as 90% of the incidents were answered (not necessarily solved, but feedback provided) and management cost of reports reduced 63% compared to the previous call centre system.
Key issues to overcome initial challenges and ensure the success of the platform include: