Date Published: June 26, 2018, 9:51 a.m.
Tirana Ime” Application offers instant access from mobile phones to all real-time information related to the city’s traffic volume, urban transport networks, touristic attractions, citizen complaint report forms, online parking fee payment service and city-related quick information.
In a time when the city of Tirana is undergoing a comprehensive and rapid transformation from a chaotic post-communist transition to a long-term sustainable city which hosts one third of the population of Albania, providing for an efficient infrastructure of serving citizens’ needs is not only pivotal, but becomes even more challenging. Relying on technology to offer public services might perhaps count as one of the biggest advantages to be of use to local governors nowadays.
“Tirana Ime” app was designed as a platform that meets some of the top concerns of the capital’s citizens. It offers real time information on the city’s traffic volume, all of the urban transportation network as well as some quick information on the municipality and its administrative units.
Besides, the application brought about two major innovations such as the online parking fee payment service through which all citizens can easily pay via an SMS parking fees, which were once dealt with mostly informally and arbitrarily; and also submit in real time complaints about infrastructural problems in their neighborhoods. This has significantly increased the responsiveness of the local government to the citizens and has also served to raise citizens’ awareness on the key role they play for a good governance to continuously function properly.
Nevertheless, despite being easily and freely accessible via Play Store and App Store, there still exists a gap between those who regularly use the app and those who don’t.
The application encompasses the whole territory of the Municipality of Tirana.
The application is of use not only to all of the inhabitants of Tirana, but also to anyone who is visiting the city and wishes to use the app. It serves as a useful and primary orientating platform to tourists as well.
Project negotiations between the Municipality of Tirana and Vodafone Albania started on 05/27/2015.
The project was launched on 02/05/2016.
“Tirana Ime” App was developed from the Municipality of Tirana in cooperation with Vodafone Albania. The first phase, which lasted for approximately two months, consisted in an analysis of the elements required by Municipality of Tirana for this project and on the extent that Vodafone Albania could concretize them. Given that transportation is one of the top concerns of the citizens of Tirana, half of the categories that compose the app were aimed at prioritizing transportation; namely traffic, parking fee payment and public transportation network.
This was followed by the design of the application and its particular features by a team of experts from the Municipality of Tirana and Vodafone Albania within one month. The app was designed with the aim of providing sufficient information while also being easy to use.
After a three-month long period of the implementation phase, which consisted in the testing of the functionality of the app, it took another three months’ time for the data collection and data entry to be finalized.
Finally, special focus was put on the category of citizens’ reports, given its relevance for the relation between the local government and the citizens. A four-month period was needed for the creation of a structure that would manage the flow of reports as well as for the staff training.
The project has been prepared from the Municipality of Tirana in collaboration with Vodafone Albania. All financial costs of the project have been covered by Vodafone Albania.
“Tirana Ime” provides a unique platform easily accessible by all citizens with the sole aim of facilitating the everyday lives of those who live in Albania’s most populous city. The project’s main target are the citizens:
- They can submit their complaints online and check how they are being dealt with in real time. This has significantly increased the local government’s responsiveness and accountability and at the same time has increased citizens’ trust in the local government. This sound relation between the citizen and the governor engenders with time a healthier democratic culture within the community, as a participatory citizenry paves the way to a more efficient management of the city.
- Citizens can easily and shortly pay their parking fees via a simple SMS. This was previously done arbitrarily and informally and left room for abuses and unfair regulations.
- Citizens can check traffic congestion in real time and as such know which routes to avoid.
- Citizens can check and learn all information related to public transportation lines, bike lanes and bus stations, and make use of the transportation network based on their location of preference.
- Citizens, and especially tourists, can learn detailed information about all the touristic attractions of the city.
- Citizens can also find useful contact numbers, such as the municipality’s green line, as well as short information on schools, businesses and the municipality’s administrative units.
- This platform is a great city guide to all tourists visiting Tirana as it can be accessible at any time for free.
One of the main shortcomings of the application is the fact that not all of the citizens use it. It has met quite a wide usage range from citizens who use it daily and regularly and take advantage from the facilities that it offers. However, there exists a gap between regular users and people who do not use the app. It would be useful to further promote the application and let people be aware of its impact.
Secondly, the fact that there is quite a high number of submitted complaints makes their timely follow up challenging. However, “Tirana Ime” team has been successfully dealing with the situation up to date, as there exists a widespread public satisfaction with their responsiveness.
“Tirana Ime” app resulted to be a successful initiative due to its usefulness and to the importance that each of the app categories has in facilitating the everyday lives of the citizens who use the app. Furthermore, the app could be further developed by adding other features such as the GPS based bus tracking system, which would be of interest to a good majority of the citizens. Besides, another category outlining all of the upcoming cultural and social events taking place in the city might be added to the app and serve as a good guide on how citizens might spend their leisure time in Tirana.
What is crucial while developing this type of app, is to provide citizens with what they need the most, i.e.: bringing to the fore those categories of services that would be to the interest of the overwhelming majority and as such would serve as facilitators of their everyday lives.
Description of the app at the official website of the Municipality of Tirana http://www.tirana.al/aplikacioni-tirana-ime/
“Tirana Ime” app was given the Ljubljana Forum Future of Cities Award 2016 http://www.ljubljanaforum.org/2016/