Mapping with the Power of Crowds.
In South Africa, Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres must be registered with the Department of Social Development (DSD) to qualify for subsidies and support, and to operate legally. ECD centres are not always aware of this requirement or of the benefits of registering with the DSD, particularly in rural and under-resourced communities.
DSD and partner NGOs therefore need to actively seek them out. This challenging task is compounded by the fact that many of these centres operate in homes or backyard shacks making it extremely difficult to identify or locate them, and that new ECD centres are constantly emerging.
To date, locating ECD centres has involved physically driving and walking over large distances, often on poor roads or village tracks – a time consuming and prohibitively expensive approach.
Mapping with the Power of Crowds aimed to find a cost-effective way to locate ECD centres, in order to feed them into the DSD’s registration workflow process and ultimately support and monitor their services.
In partnership with Code for South Africa, a technology lab which uses data to drive social change, Innovation Edge tested the use of crowdsourcing to address this challenge.
Crowdsourcing is a fresh and innovative way of gathering knowledge and information from the public. This project sought to gather information from parents and caregivers about ECD centres and services in their community as a step towards enabling these centres to become registered.
The assumption was that community members were likely to feel incentivised to assist with the registration of the pre-schools attended by their children. A call to action was made via a poster campaign, printed in the vernacular, appealing to parents and caregivers to provide the name and location of their child’s ECD centre in the form of an SMS. Using an existing crowdsourcing technology platform, data verification could be largely automated and ECD centres mapped for follow up.
Crowdsourcing is a powerful means of driving social change, but this project failed to deliver the results we hoped for.
The number of messages received over the six-month campaign period was negligible and feedback from our target audience provided useful insights into the reasons for this.
As one of our first investments, the learnings from this failure were invaluable and helped to shape our current approach to proof of concept, with greater emphasis on project sprints, fast learning cycles and lean iteration.
The project team
Code for South Africa is a civic technology lab using data and technology to change lives, promoting informed decision making for social good.