Date Published: Aug. 1, 2017, 10:38 p.m.
his case study presents the experience of the city of Seberang Perai, in Malaysia and how the municipality implemented a smart monitoring system through which citizens and municipal officials can report incidents and monitor the quality of public services.
Seberang Perai is a Malaysian city covering an area of 738 sq. km with a population of 897,600 inhabitants.The municipal Council of Seberang Perai or Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai (MPSP) has competences over urban planning, licensing, town beautification, health services, cleanliness, controlling contagious diseases, construction and regulating road system, managing traffic system, regulating drainage system, and providing and maintaining public amenities. Local revenue comes from rates, licensing fees and various municipal charges and compounds. Local tax revenues represented 72% of MPSP’s total revenue in 2015.
Originally, MPSP received citizen complaints through a myriad of system such letters, emails, phone calls but also meetings, mass media and the internet. With these conventional methods, response and feedback were slow and communication unilateral. To improve communication with residents and the governments’ responsiveness MPSP developed in 2013 the “SMART Monitoring System” (SMS). The SMS facilitates two-way communication between the public and the municipality. The two main functions of the SMS are i) to manage citizens’ complaints and enhance communication with MPSP to provide feedback on issues related to urban services; ii) to monitor progress of development project on sites and to ensure that the developers comply with the approved plans. Main topics addressed by the SMART tool related to floods; urban planning enforcement; illegal waste dumping and environmental issues.
The SMS integrates data and information from social networks (MPSP Watch Facebook) and the “Citizen Action Technology” (CAT) application. To submit a complaint, users take pictures with their mobile phones and describe the problem. In the application, complaints are registered according to categories and location. A reference number is automatically given to ensure that the report is received by MPSP and addressed quickly. A team dedicated to the follow-up makes sure that the complaints in the Smart Monitoring System are channelled to relevant departments for action. The response time is 1 to 3 days. Feedback is visible on the websites. This system also allows the Municipal President to monitor the progress of the work carried out to rectify the problems. According to Dato’Maimunah Mohd Sharif ,President of MPSP “the community becomes the eyes and ears of MPSP and anyone among them are welcomed to transmit information directly through the use of these applications.”
Since the launching of the application, 11,456 complaints have been received, with 100% of the complaints solved. The user-friendly app has 14,103 followers. It brings the following benefits to Seberang Perai’s management team and citizens:
According to the MPSP, there are key issues that local governments must pay attention to when implementing similar initiatives, including: