Social media that matters

2011-01-13 00:00

SOCIAL media have become the proverbial soap-box for causes, issues and many things that need a voice. Social-media campaigns spearheaded by individuals often lose momentum because they fail to mobilise people.

The power of platforms like Facebook, Twitter and blogs lies in the fact that they empower individuals to publish, influence and make a cause known. But that’s the ideal world. The reality is that the impact most individuals can make on a regular basis is limited, fragmented and not co-ordinated.

Enter Mobilitate — a platform that allows an individual to coordinate a response using various social-media tools to make a real difference and mobilise their online followers and friends.

It’s a “curated” social-media experience, if you will. The platform works with popular social-media platforms to direct and guide you through a process of mobilising supporters, getting the message right and lobbying the correct authorities.

We are a society of talkers; we love to discuss the problems and theorise about possible solutions. However, mobilising people to work together and build a better society, one that constructively challenges governments and civil servants, is a difficult task.

If you could become part of the solution, would you step up and do what must be done? Would you be able to maintain momentum for a cause you believed in? These are some of the questions that cross our minds when we truly allow ourselves to think about the problems that face our society, like crime and corruption.

Mobilitate enables various communities to organise, communicate and collaborate on the interactive platform to build an effective, transparent and accountable local or national government.

The site was created in late 2010 and is funded by Kaizania, a Pretoria-based company that specialises in helping corporations such as Absa, Capital and Multichoice run more efficiently.

“Mobilitate was created to increase efficiency in our democracy and assist in making South Africa a safer place for its citizens. These are ambitious goals but we are confident we will reach them,” says Lionel Bisschoff, CEO of Kaizania and co-creator of Mobilitate.

The site tackles six broad areas:

• Service Delivery — focuses on municipal issues such as potholes and broken streetlights.

• Communities — individual neighbourhoods and communities are able to discuss local issues.

• Councillors — interact with your community ward councillor, track their progress regarding issues.

• Crimespotter — register to receive free SMS crime alerts and report criminal occurrences within your area.

• Causes — create a cause and generate support for it.

• News — post citizen news stories.

Mobilitate says it does not charge citizens for the service and making money is not its main objective.

“We have a team of 13 dedicated to building a complete platform for transparent governance and crime fighting in South Africa. As long as we can break even by the end of 2011, I am fine investing a few more million into Mobilitate. We will never charge citizens for the service,” says Bisschoff.

The company aims to get government agencies involved so problems can be solved more quickly and hopefully more efficiently.

“We work with a number of municipalities, but not yet in an official capacity. We are already cc’d on internal work-crew e-mails for a number of municipalities, so we have access to information that citizens usually do not,” says Bisschoff.

In only three months the site already has more than 3 531 members. These members have reported about 1 156 problems within their communities of which, according to the site, 210 have been resolved.

It works like an online neighbourhood watch. Community members and their various security agencies as well as police forums register on the site. They are then able to join their community page, activate their cellphones on the site and configure their crime-alert settings.

Once this is done community members can raise alerts on any suspected criminal activities in their area. When an alert is raised Mobilitate sends a crime-alert SMS and e-mail to all community members.

International sites such as the United Kingdom’s FixMyStreet and the Netherlands’ Verbeterdebuurt work in a similar way to Mobilitate.



The company aims to get government agencies involved so problems can be solved more quickly and hopefully more efficiently.

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