If there is a one-stop magic solution to corruption somewhere out there, goodness knows South Africa definitely needs it. In the meantime and on the more realistic side of things though, two students from New York think they may have found a way to fight shady dealings in the construction sector through a smartphone app.
The New School students Thomas Disley and Lena Simet teamed up to develop the M-App, a real-time tool that monitors and evaluates road construction projects to maximize service delivery and root out corruption.
M-App was birthed through a competition launched by The New School in search of solutions by its students focused on social and environmental challenges on a local or global scale. M-App won first prize in the Poverty Alleviation and Economic Development category, walking away with $5 000 (around R55 ooo) towards their project.
Central management in charge road construction projects can use M-App to oversee remote projects by visualising data collected from on-site staff on an open-source mapping website in real-time. Importantly, workers as well as managers are able to post updates, which then added to a timeline and evolving dataviz which helps make it clear when dodgy practices are taking place.
“Project managers can quickly identify and respond to issues, boosting efficiency through workforce accountability. The solution also mitigates the risk of corruption by increasing transparency in supplier performance by monitoring project expenditures and supply delivery. This both detects and deters future occurrence. All data is geo-tagged and accompanied by photo evidence, preventing the collection of fraudulent data,” Simet and Disley say.
The M-App team has partnered with the World Bank and the Ugandan government to host a pilot project in Uganda the coming months. You can read up some more on how M-App works and the inspiration behind it on FastCoExist.