The City of Tshwane municipality has turned to instant messaging as a tool to communicate with residents using its free WiFi network.
The WiFi network is provided by Project Isizwe.
WiFi Chat was launched yesterday during Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa‘s State of the City address, and is aimed at tackling the issue of communication breakdowns between the municipality and its residents, which has often times been very ineffective as there are no proper channels for direct engagement.
“We are proud to announce the Tshwane WiFi Chat,” Ramokgopa said, “A service available over the Tshwane free WiFi network, which allows the City to effect realtime conversations with citizens. This hyperlocalised social network creates secure digimbizo’s further enabling local government participation. The City will be able to create live chat rooms pertaining to any relevant discussion topic, such as Q&A sessions, city updates and debates. This could also include information relating to service delivery and community projects and surveys.”
In a later statement, a City spokesperson added:
“The traditional method of public hearings and sittings is outdated and has lost appeal for younger people… This means that while the youth communicate with friends and colleagues via social media and messaging applications, and through WiFi Chat, the City can now communicate with young citizens through a channel which they are comfortable using.”
The service will feature chat rooms created by the city where residents are able to chat with officials regarding issues such as service delivery, posts comments and access information on new developments or topics, while the city will gather feedback and input from them.
Chat Rooms for individual communities under which multiple chat discussions will be ongoing will also be set up to cater to each community’s specific needs. On these non-municipal boards, users can add media, comments and like or favourite other people’s comments.