Government And Local Institutions Need To Get Better At Developing Local Apps

A few days ago, the Ghana Audit Service announced the release of their app called Citizen’s Eye. The objective of the app was to help with accountability and help with improving public services with participation of citizens.

I decided to give it a spin and see if it might be worthwhile.

On first impressions, a couple of things jumped out at me:

  1. The app was outsourced to a South Africa app developer
  2. The app, in its current state, is a bit…..off and cumbersome.

I decided to do a deeper dive into the app and see if it might be too soon to write the app off.

Outsourcing A Local Problem

After a deeper dive, there is definitely a problem with outsourcing your problem to a foreign entity. I don’t know what scope the developer was given, but if they had time to do ground research, they would have come up with a much better solution.

In it’s current state, the app gives users two options to interact:

  • Rate A Service
  • Report An Issue
CitizenEye Home Screen

In rating a service, users are presented with categories:

  • Hospital
  • School
  • Environment
  • Infrastructure
  • Agriculture
It’s a very long list….

After selecting a service, there’s a long process of rating or reporting problems in the local community. The problem with the above screenshot is that it “overloads” the user with too many options.

What happens is that it becomes a steep learning curve which can be a turn off for average users. It’s understandable to want to categorise issues but presenting options all at once to users will not help.

Hasn’t This Been Done Before?

Speaking of research, there’s a problem here which a background study could have unearthed: There’s already an app like this that exists – it’s called “TransGov“.

TransGov was developed by entrepreneurs from the Meltwater Entrepreneurship School of Technology. The app allows citizens to report issues in their community.

So if the general concept of reporting issues through an app already exists, why develop another app when most of the leg work has already been done? It would have been easier to consult with these individuals who made the TransGov app to duplicate their product for the Audit Service.

A simpler process for reporting local issues

Maybe, if more background research was done, the Audit service could have developed a better app.

Slow Adoption, Eventual Death

I don’t see how this app will get adopted by local users. Visually, it’s not impressive. But that’s not the main point. It’s also a bit cumbersome to use.

I hate to sound like a wet blanket, but more research and development needs to be adopted by local institutions before they start developing products like the CitizenEye project.

This is a version 1.0 product and it can be improved but first impressions are important especially when it comes from local institutions and government.

But putting out an outsourced inferior product like this is not a good bet.