Updated Mar 28, 2019

Nathalie Dijkman

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SEMA aims to improve transparency and accountability of public services in East Africa, by gathering real-time citizen feedback data and presenting this in monthly actionable and easy-to-understand formats to civil servants and policy makers.

SEMA improves the functioning of the public offices by giving citizens a voice to provide feedback; and providing this feedback in an effective way to local offices and headquarters. We gather data through three technologies: 1. Locally-produced, low-cost, high-visibility feedback devices. At every office where SEMA is installed, citizens can press a smiley face: angry, all the way to thrilled...
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SEMA improves the functioning of the public offices by giving citizens a voice to provide feedback; and providing this feedback in an effective way to local offices and headquarters. We gather data through three technologies: 1. Locally-produced, low-cost, high-visibility feedback devices. At every office where SEMA is installed, citizens can press a smiley face: angry, all the way to thrilled (5 point scale). Our pilot shows approximately 150 citizens per office, per month, will give feedback by pressing a button. Quantitative data allows us to see trends per office, per shift, per day, and more. 2. On-site in-person interviews. To match the device data, we gather qualitative data. In order to accomplish this at a low cost, we recruit and manage a network of Ugandan students, providing them economic opportunities and training them on data collection. 3. An automated, toll-free phone line. SEMA operates Interactive Voice Response line where citizens can record their message. The collected citizen feedback data is translated into monthly customized reports for each office. These are digestible one-pagers that show the ‘score’ of that office (compared to other offices), and is complemented with average waiting times, corruption rates and one concrete suggestion for improvement. SEMA has tested how producing and presenting our citizen feedback reports can translate to actual improvements at public offices (see our data-to-action report attached on this profile).
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Stage 4: Transition to Scale

SEMA has piloted three technologies with the Justice Law and Order Sector and the Kampala Capital City Authority at five big police stations and three municipality offices, with over 16.800 citizens giving feedback on the quality of the services.

Focus Areas:

Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance, Public-Private Partnerships and Data Collection/Needs Assessments

Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance, Public-Private Partnerships and Data Collection/Needs AssessmentsSEE LESS

Implemented In:

Uganda

UgandaSEE LESS

16,800
Lives Impacted to Date
1
Country Implemented In
2
Customers
4
Employees
$67,000
Funds Raised to Date

Problem

Millions of citizens in East Africa rely on public services that are inefficient, ineffective and corrupt. Since citizens don’t have an independent and easy platform to raise their voice, local governments ignore their needs and can’t detect where the problems are. Existing methods for feedback gathering are expensive, take a level of local sensitization that foreign firms cannot provide, and do not report in an effective way to assist governments in making change.

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Solution

SEMA has created a system to give the poorest citizens a voice, while generating critical data for local governments to know how and where to improve their services and reduce corruption. This system consists of hardware IoT feedback terminals, phone IVR surveys, and face-to-face data collection, which is designed in a way to generate a large quantity of real-time data, as well as action-oriented qualitative data on a daily basis. Face-to-face data is generated through a student-led network.

Target Beneficiaries

Each citizen, regardless of poverty level, makes use of public services. SEMA’s system is specifically designed to work for users without smartphones, thereby being available to the poorest in our society. Each of SEMA’s services (in-person interviews, audio phone lines, and push-button systems) also has been designed with the illiterate in mind and for countries with multiple languages. Civil servants benefit from our reports because they get commended for good work, and know where to improve.

Mission and Vision

By 2030, the most utilized public services in East Africa will use a customer feedback tool in order to assess and improve their service delivery. Governments need to measure their performance towards SDG 16, in particular to create accountable institutions at all levels (16.6). Public services need to work for citizens: they need to become user-friendly, and citizens need to feel their opinion matters in making public services better.

Competitive Advantage

Existing alternatives in East Africa to measure performance of public services include suggestion boxes, which are “reportedly not systematically analysed or acted upon"; and performance/household surveys, often only conducted every 3 years and costing millions of dollars. Neither alternative provides real-time or office-specific data. SEMA develops its hardware locally, so we can offer our technology at a cheaper cost than the market rate, while also encouraging local employment and capacities. Our technologies are able to gather a lot of data on a daily basis (approx. 500 citizen feedback points per month per office), and we present it in the form of monthly infographics that any civil servant can understand.

The Team Behind the Innovation

SEMA was founded by Nathalie Dijkman (CEO - consultant on Access to Justice & Innovation for MoJ Uganda), Connor Sattely (CTO - serial civic tech entrepreneur) and Timothy Kakuru (Lawyer and co-founder of BarefootLaw). We also have a full-time local director (Joanitah Nsasiirwe) who builds trust with public offices and manages our student-network. In addition, SEMA has a team of 11 part-time staff, including an IT Officer, Data Analyst, Social-Media, Graphic Designer and seven data collectors.

EXECUTIVE TEAM INCLUDES WOMEN AND YOUTH

Milestone

Mar 2019
Recognition ReceivedPENDING
Feb 2019
New Country Implemented In
Uganda
Dec 2018
Lives Impacted
16,800
Mar 2018
New Product Or Service
We launched our first tools at the Uganda Police Force and Kampala City Authority

Supporting Materials

SEMA-Report-Moving-from-real-time-feedback-to-better-service-delivery-in-East-Africa.pdf