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Open AccessArticle

Monitoring Rural Water Points in Tanzania with Mobile Phones: The Evolution of the SEMA App

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Department of Geo-Information Processing, Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, University of Twente, 7514 AE Enschede, The Netherlands
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Department of Computer Sciences and Engineering, University of Dar es Salaam, 14113 Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Geo-Information Management, Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, University of Twente, 7514 AE Enschede, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2017, 6(10), 316; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijgi6100316
Received: 15 July 2017 / Revised: 4 October 2017 / Accepted: 16 October 2017 / Published: 21 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Geo-Information Tools for Governance)
Development professionals have deployed several mobile phone-based ICT (Information and Communications Technology) platforms in the global South for improving water, health, and education services. In this paper, we focus on a mobile phone-based ICT platform for water services, called Sensors, Empowerment and Accountability in Tanzania (SEMA), developed by our team in the context of an action research project in Tanzania. Water users in villages and district water engineers in local governments may use it to monitor the functionality status of rural water points in the country. We describe the current architecture of the platform’s front-end (the SEMA app) and back-end and elaborate on its deployment in four districts in Tanzania. To conceptualize the evolution of the SEMA app, we use three concepts: transaction-intensiveness, discretion and crowdsourcing. The SEMA app effectively digitized only transaction-intensive tasks in the information flow between water users in villages and district water engineers. Further, it resolved two tensions over time: the tension over what to report (by decreasing the discretion of reporters) and over who should report (by constraining the reporting “crowd”). View Full-Text
Keywords: rural water supply; information infrastructure; key services; ICT4D; mobile phone; dashboard; Tanzania rural water supply; information infrastructure; key services; ICT4D; mobile phone; dashboard; Tanzania
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Lemmens, R.; Lungo, J.; Georgiadou, Y.; Verplanke, J. Monitoring Rural Water Points in Tanzania with Mobile Phones: The Evolution of the SEMA App. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2017, 6, 316.

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