Finalist – South Africa: Crowdmapping Environmental Health in Hospital Hills, Johannesburg
To collaborate with residents of Hospital Hills, a deprived informal settlement in Johannesburg, to gain a voice to define their environmental health challenges, communicate them to decision-makers and bring about change. Six participants will be trained in citizen reporting skills, provided with necessary equipment and supervised to work with other residents to document concerns in multimedia micro-reports. These will be uploaded and visualised on an online Crowdmap, which will be disseminated widely, but particularly targeting decision-makers with the power to bring about necessary changes.
What locality or neighborhood will your project focus on?
Describe the specific community with whom you will be working.
Community members from Hospital Hills, Johannesburg, South Africa. This is an informal settlement – an unplanned slum of the poorest people living in improvised dwellings. They have little or no access to basic social and civil services including housing, water, sanitation, education, health, recreation and communication. This results in serious environmental health challenges including exposure to food insecurity, disease, toxins, violence and accidents. They lack a voice to change the situation underpinning these challenges. However, in informal settlements that have undergone development, it is the residents who have been responsible for major improvements. This has been achieved by giving them tools to define their needs, communicate with decision-makers and bring about change.
What kinds of news, stories and other content will be created?
The output will be multimedia micro-reports on key environmental health issues in Hospital Hills, crowdsourced from the residents themselves, and visualised on an interactive map and timeline. To achieve this, participants will use smartphones to document environmental health challenges (including health, housing, food security, livelihoods and safety challenges) facing residents. Participants will identify these challenges as they arise and write text micro-reports describing them and tracking any responses made to address them. Participants will record photographs, video and audio to support these reports. The multimedia micro-reports will by uploaded to populate an online public Crowdmap and timeline through the Ushahidi Andriod app.
What technologies and digital tools do you plan to use in the trainings?
Describe the connections that you or your organization have already established that will contribute to the success of the project.
In Hospital Hills we have existing partnerships with: local activists, leaders and community organisations, who are taking action to improve environmental health; and with the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC), who have been undertaking environmental health research in Hospital Hills for over seven years. These partners are key to the success of the project as they will help to provide access to, and support from, the community and its residents to generate content. To ensure the project leads to real improvements, we plan to work with our existing partners to establish new partnerships with local and regional public and private sector service providers, decision-makers and businesses who can take action on the content generated.
How many participants do you think will be involved in your project?
Our partners will help to introduce the project to the community, encourage residents to volunteer, and collaborate to select of one project manager and five project participants. These individuals will be selected from across Hospital Hills and will reflect the age, gender and ethnic diversity of the community. They will be trained and equipped to document and upload multimedia micro-reports on environmental health issues. Each participant will cultivate and train a pool of 10-20 volunteer informants to assist them. Their participation will be sustained through incentives of monthly voice, text and data allowances for personal purposes. The project manager will also be trained to supervise the participants and verify and edit reports and will receive a small honorarium for doing this.
Describe which technologies, tools, and media you will focus on when training participants.
The hardware and software for this project will be Samsung smartphones and tablets running Android and pre-loaded with the Ushahidi mobile app synchronised with an online Crowdmap deployment. Volunteers will be trained to identify relevant environmental health challenges. Participants will be trained to use the smartphones to capture multimedia information and construct micro-reports. They will also be trained to use the Ushahidi mobile app to upload these to the online Crowdmap. The project manager will be trained to supervise the participants and to administrate the Crowdmap deployment. Twenty Four Frames, the trainer, has experience working with communities to use multimedia to define and communicate their concerns. They also has experience using the Crowdmap software.
Describe the facilities where you will hold the workshops.
The training workshops will be held at Lenasia South Civic Centre. The centre is located within walking distance of the South East corner of Hospital Hills. In common with all nearby public buildings, it lacks appropriate technical features beyond chairs and four walls, but the trainer will take a laptop, USB modem and projector to facilitate workshop presentations and smartphones pre-loaded with relevant software to facilitate practicals.
What is your current relationship with the community with whom you plan to work? What makes you the most appropriate individual or organization to implement this project?
Twenty Four Frames, in collaboration with UJ and the SAMRC, recently completed a participatory photography project in Johannesburg. The project trained 21 residents of communities, including Hospital Hills, to document their environmental health experiences with disposable cameras. To raise awareness the photographs were exhibited within and beyond the communities. This new project arose from this experience and the relationship developed with residents of Hospital Hills. They wanted to gather more information to be heard more widely and to generate more change. UJ and the SAMRC already have seven years experience working in Hospital Hills and, with Twenty Four Frames, hope to sustain and expand this project across additional disadvantaged communities in Johannesburg in the future.
What specific challenges do you expect to face when planning and implementing your project?
The key challenges will be: gaining consent, ensuring anonymity, maintaining security, avoiding theft and effective mobile data usage. The training workshop will include in depth sessions on gaining informed consent. Written consent forms will be used and anonymity ensured where necessary. The workshops will also explore issues around security and participants will be encouraged to avoid risk and only gather reports in their local areas, where they are well known. Furthermore, the equipment will be security tagged to minimise the risk of theft. Finally, participants learn data usage strategies, such as writing reports offline and will sign a contract agreeing to prioritise their monthly allowance to upload reports before using it for personal reasons.
How will you measure and evaluate the project’s impact, specifically: your primary participants, the wider regional community, or the global digital community?
Our goals are to support residents to: a) define their environmental health challenges; b) communicate them to decision-makers; and c) address these concerns. Key indicators of success in defining challenges include: i) number of verified reports uploaded; and ii) issues covered by verified reports. Key indicators of success in communicating concerns include: iii) number of views of the Crowdmap deployment; iv) number of comments on the reports; v) issues raised in comments; vi) perceptions of key decision-makers about success (gathered through interviews). Key indicators of success in addressing concerns include: vii) number of resolved issues; vii) comparison of number of resolved vs unresolved issues; and viii) perceptions of residents about success (gathered through interviews).
If your project were to be selected as a Rising Voices grantee, what would be the general timeline of project activities in 2013?
Planning – May 2013
Developing selection criteria, developing training and supervision materials, developing networking plan.
Purchasing equipment, loading software, deploying Crowdmap, trialling system.
Selection of participants – June 2013
Meeting community leaders.
Advertising for participants.
Training workshop – July 2013
Conducting three day training workshop.
Implementation – August 2013 to April 2014
Selecting and training volunteers.
Identifying environmental health challenges.
Uploading to Crowdmap
Supervision – August 2013 to April 2014
Verification of reports.
Supervision of participants
Networking – June 2013 to April 2014
a) Linking target audiences to Crowdmap
Review meeting 1 – October 2013
a) Conducting one day review and training workshop
Review meeting 2 – January 2014
a) Conducting one day review and training workshop
Report writing – April 2014
a) Writing evaluation report
Detail a specific budget of up to $4,000 USD for operating costs.
5 x Samsung Xcover smartphones (includes 24 months x ZAR49 airtime) = $820
5 x 12 months x pay-as-you-go 1gb data = $1000
1 x Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet (includes 24 months x 3gb data) = $1300
Community leader meeting
20 x refreshments = $60
20 x transport allowances = $100
Interviews for participants
20 x refreshments = $60
20 x transport allowances = $100
7 x 3 days x refreshments = $105
6 x stationery = $30
6 x 3 days x workshop allowances = $360
6 x t-shirts/caps/bags = $90
7 x 2 meetings x refreshments = $72
6 x 2 meetings x stationery = $60
6 x 2 meetings x workshop allowances = $240
Honorarium for project manager
1 x 12 months x honorarium = $600
Total budget is $4997.00. Twenty Four Frames will cover one third of total budget ($1666.00) and all costs incurred by Mikey Rosato, the project coordinator and trainer.
Besides the microgrant funding, what other resources and support are you seeking for your project to ensure its success?
Training of participants in citizen media skills will draw on the Rising Voices citizen media guides. Furthermore, a key challenge will be linking with decision-makers and encouraging them to engage with the Crowdmap and provide the resources and support needed to bring about change in relation to the environmental health issues raised. In parallel to our work to achieve this, Rising Voices could help by linking our project to advocates, with networks in South Africa and beyond, that could help to bring the issues raised to the key individuals and organisations who can help to address them.
Twenty Four Frames