Smart Monitoring and Citizen Feedback
Punjab Information Technology Board

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Governments in developing countries often face the major problem of difficulty in monitoring their field-workers and data collection processes. Typically, such governments tend to invest in in large systems which employ data-entry operators who manually digitize field reports in a lengthy, cumbersome and error-prone process. The Punjab Government also faced this challenge; for instance, the government employs nearly a million people yet there was no way to effectively determine whether field workers employed in various public services were carrying out their work in a timely manner and providing reliable and authentic data. This problem was rooted and endemic across all services, including health, education, law & order and agriculture and livestock management. All of this meant that if an epidemic broke out, there was no reliable way to contain it; if public health services were not being provided efficiently, it was impossible to locate the problem and deal with it in a timely and efficient manner; if there was consistent absenteeism among school-teachers in public schools, there was no-one to report it reliably and, by extension, take effective action; if polio vaccinators failed to perform their duties, there was no way to keep track of them; if a citizen had to pay a bribe to obtain her a character certificate, or if the fire brigade or rescue services failed to turn up in response to her call, no-one was going to check up on the matter. The system rumbled on ineffectively, the citizens suffered and all the while, the unreliability of data from field reports meant that the government’s decision-making process was handicapped, which in turn led to poor resource utilization; valuable public money was squandered on the basis of inauthentic, unverifiable data. This situation led to several problems which severely compromised service delivery and the unsuccessful provision of services to citizens. There were no structures in place to solicit citizen-feedback to ensure that service delivery was taking place in a manner satisfactory to citizens. Ordinary citizens of the province suffered greatly in the face of these ineffective governance structures as accessing even the most basic services such as having their domicile made, or acquiring a driver’s licence, was a process fraught with uncertainty, bribery and petty corruption. Even if workers equipped with smartphones for data collection were going out into the field, there was no way to cross-check their activities against citizen feedback. A system needed to be devised which could not only monitor field workers and the data they sent in, but also to cross-verify that data from the citizens. PITB’s intervention involves moving away from the lengthy procedure of data collection and digitizing by equipping government field workers with cheap, widely available smartphones to record their activities and then counter-check service delivery by pro-actively obtaining feedback from citizens through robo-call, SMSs and Unstructured Supplementary Services Data (USSD) protocol.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The initiative began in 2012 when Punjab Information Technology Board, under the Chairmanship of Dr. Umar Saif, developed a technological intervention in response to the severe province-wide outbreak of a Dengue Epidemic in 2011 wherein an estimate of 21, 000 dengue cases were reported, leading to 352 deaths. A chaotic situation existed across the province and it soon became clear that there was no way to localize and track outbreaks and align the government departments’ activities to combat them. PITB responded to this by developing a smartphone application to track anti-dengue activities by the field staff. Each field worker was given a basic Android-based smartphone, and the application enabled the worker to take a picture of a completed task, tag its GPS coordinates (geo-tagging) and upload it to the system’s back-end dashboard. The system time-stamped the incoming pictures and mapped them to the field worker’s phone numbers. This data was then visualised on a Google map, enabling easy and reliable analysis of where and when the prevention activities were performed, or not. Using thousands of Android phones, this system was used by 27 different government departments and hundreds of field workers. By running statistical analyses of data on larvae reports and geo-tagged patient-locations, aligning them to outbreaks in the field and tracking the status of patients suffering from the virus, the application was soon refined to build a state-of-the-art epidemic early warning system. This information was promptly shared with the local government to help it target its activities in the most vulnerable areas and quarantine the virus before a breakout could take place. Additionally, a patient portal was set up to obtain citizens’ feedback and close the loop of the monitoring activities. Following the launch of coordinated anti-dengue activities under this application, there were only 234 confirmed cases of the virus and no reported deaths from dengue in the year 2012. This system was scaled up and by 2014, over one million different activities, including larvaeciding and patient-tagging, had been recorded by it. This ground-breaking initiative has been covered by MIT Technology Review, The Economist and Slate Magazine and the BBC among other notable international journals and news forums The remarkable success of the dengue initiative led PITB to develop and roll out over sixty similar technological interventions to combat governance challenges in other public departments across the province under what is now known as the Smart Monitoring and Citizen Feedback System. This System has recently been highlighted by the World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim, in a speech delivered to the Philippines cabinet in July 2014 as “one of the two global examples of innovative governance reform.” The departments in which this system has been deployed include Health, Education, Law and Order, Water and Sanitation, Livestock, Agriculture, Irrigation, Education, Water and Sanitation and the Police. The Smart Monitoring and Citizen Feedback System is employed extensively by PITB in the World Bank-backed flagship governance innovation initiative; Punjab Public Management Reforms Program (PPMRP). The primary strategy behind this initiative is to equip field-workers with smartphones with which they are required to report their activities on a customized application, which are then verified through pro-actively reaching out to citizens and getting their feedback. 17,000 smartphones have been handed out to field workers under the Smart Monitoring and Citizen Feedback System; all 920 of the Monitoring and Evaluation Agents (MEAs) of the School Education Department are equipped with tablets with which to collect data on public school facilities and carry out on-spot student assessments to measure teaching standards, the activities of all 3000 polio vaccinator across the province are being monitored through smartphones.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
This innovative system has attacked the problem of inauthentic data and poor monitoring at a massive scale by equipping 17,000 field workers with cheap, portable, easy-to-use smartphones across more than 60 technological interventions. But then it goes further by making use of the fact that the country has 76% mobile-phone penetration to pro-actively reach out to citizens through this medium, get their feedback and cross-verify the field data. The Smart Monitoring and Citizen Feedback System is using technology in a unique way to dynamically deal with problems of service delivery that are deeply rooted in the province. Over 85% of the world’s polio cases come from Pakistan; the system has devised an innovative application to track all 3,000 polio vaccinators’ activities and verify them by reaching out to the citizens. Within four months of the application’s launch, vaccinator compliance has increased from 22% to 66% and twice as many children are being vaccinated now. A similar initiative uses a smartphone application to track health workers; as a result child deliveries at Basic Health Units have increased by 100% in two months. Running statistical analyses on the data, coordinated disease surveillance can be done; possible epidemic outbreaks are quarantined and prevented.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The incredible success of the of the Dengue Tracking and Surveillance System in 2012; which brought down the 352 confirmed deaths from dengue 2011 to zero deaths in 2012 with the help of 43, 000 patient-tagging and larvaeciding activities, PITB developed an action plan to launch technological interventions across all public departments of the Government of Punjab at an unprecedented scale. The action plan revolved around the idea of paper-less, real-time monitoring of field activities through smartphones, their cross-verification through pro-actively solicited citizen feedback and data analyses for the surveillance of disease and crime. PITB initially launched pilot projects in a number of departments, including the Water and Sanitation Authority (WASA), the Agriculture Department, the Livestock Department, the Irrigation Department, the Punjab Police, the Traffic Police and the Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC). These pilots helped PITB in gauging the needs of the different department and capturing them in customized smartphone applications and launch tailored trainings for field workers. Alongside, a centralized call-centre was set up to obtain citizen feedback. This call centre has so far conducted over 5 million citizen interactions. These pilots also helped PITB experiment with techniques of gathering data as objectively as possible to ensure that results were as objective as possible; eg. how should questions soliciting citizen feedback be phrased. The pilots were then scaled up and launched across the province; the WASA Complaint Management System, for example, has so far received and resolved over 122, 000 complaints so far. Similarly, the Livestock and Agriculture Extension Services has tracked the activities of 1,300 veterinary and agricultural workers through smartphones, set up 3,500 facilitation centres for farmers, and compiled a database of 1.2 million farmers who can be reached out through SMS or phone-calls for target-awareness campaigns to help enhance yields and prevent disease outbreak. Crime Mapping, another initiative, reports the occurrence of crime across both space and time dimensions in the districts of Lahore and Faisalabad. More than 54,000 crimes have been reported through this application, and the resulting data makes it possible to predict which locations are more prone to which type of crime and at what time. The Police then uses this data for targeted resource-deployment. This approach revolutionized governance across the province by making it proactive and automated. In 2013, PITB’s success caught the attention of the World Bank, and it approached PITB to extend a 5-year budgetary grant to launch its cornerstone technological governance initiative; the Punjab Public Management Reforms Program (PPMRP). PPMRP covers technological interventions in seven key departments: Agriculture, Livestock and Dairy Development, School Education, Health, Excise and Taxation, Irrigation and the Board of Revenue. In 2013 and 2014, PITB launched several key technological initiatives under PPMRP. These include the eVaccs System which tracks the activities of all 3,000 polio vaccinators across the province. Another project is the Program Planning and Implementation Unit (PPMIU) for the School Education Department, which has equipped all 920 Monitoring and Evaluation Agents (MEAs) with tablets equipped with an application to digitally record data across 6 key indicators, including school facilities and teacher absenteeism, for all of the over 54,000 public schools in Punjab. The chronology of the launch of the scaled-up Smart Monitoring applications is as follows: 2012: Dengue Tracking System, Water and Sanitation Authority Case Management System 2013: Disease Surveillance System, Crime Mapping, AgriSmart, Drug Inspection Monitoring and Evaluation, Program Management and Implementation Unit for School Education Department, Traffic Ticketing System, Attendance Monitoring for the Lahore Waste Management Company 2014: eVaccs system for Extended Project on Immunization, Healthwatch, Veterinary Inspection System

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The software designing of all the Smart Monitoring and Citizen Feedback System interventions is done by PITB. Relevant public departments are involved in the implementation of all the interventions. The following list shows which key departments are involved in what major projects: All 36 District Governments: Dengue Tracking System, eVaccs for Extended Program on Immunization, Healthwatch, Crime Mapping CM Secretariat: Health Department: eVaccs for Extended Program on Immunization, Health Watch, Dengue Tracking and Surveillance System School Education Department: Program Management and Implementation Unit, Dengue Tracking and Surveillance System Punjab Police/Law Enforcement Agencies: Crime Mapping Agriculture: Agrismart, Dengue, Dengue Tracking and Surveillance System Livestock: Livestock Extension Services Environment Department: Dengue Tracking and Surveillance System Water and Sanitation Department: WASA Complaint Management System, Dengue Tracking and Surveillance System
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
So far Rs. 600, 000 million has been funded by the Government of Punjab for the Smart Monitoring and Citizen Feedback System through various development schemes. In November 2013, the World Blank pledged funding of Rs. 1.9 billion for technological interventions in seven public departments under the Punjab Public Management and Reforms Project (PPMRP) for a period of five years. Out of the total Rs. 2.5 billion funding the following amounts were allocated with the figures of expenditures so far being made for the financial resources , technical resources and human resources. Financial Resources: Allocated: Rs. 1500 Million Expenditure: Rs. 98 Million Technical Resources: Allocated: Rs. 700 Million Expenditure: Rs. 30 Million Human Resources: Allocated: Rs. 300 Million Expenditure: Rs. 13 Million

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The remarkable results of the earliest technological intervention by PITB, such as the Dengue Tracking and Surveillance System, were foremost in contributing to the continuation and success of the Smart Monitoring and Citizen Feedback System. By combatting the epidemic through a coordinated technological intervention which brought down the Dengue death rate down from 352 in 2011 to zero in 2012, PITB was able to ensure support from the political leadership and the senior bureaucracy for the Smart Monitoring and Citizen Feedback System. The introduction of Smart Monitoring projects also led to visibly improved service delivery. For example, since the launch of Healthwatch, an application used by District Health Supervisory Officers to record indicators in public health facilities, district compliance in all ten districts across all the indicators increased from 55% to 90% in just four months. The Program Management and Implementation Unit for the School Education Department saw compliance levels rise from just 11% to 96% across the whole province in just six months. Such statistics, which are verified from the citizens, vouch for the effectiveness of the initiative. The initiative’s policy of pro-actively pushing citizen to provide feedback to verify field data not only increases the authenticity and effectiveness of the system but also addressed the trust deficit between the government and its citizens. Citizens have become more forthcoming in sharing feedback and using technology to interact with the government. The feedback mechanism has handles over 50,000 citizen interactions daily. The use of real-time data helps predict trends and make possible better and more coordinated resource utilization. Crime Mapping, for example, allows the Punjab Police to map crime hotspots in both spatial and temporal dimensions and devise check-posts, personnel deployment and the use of CCTVs accordingly. Government departments can now align activities and resources more efficiently to their goals and tailor their budgets accordingly. The data gathered by the Smart Monitoring and Citizen Feedback System is used to make quick, evidence-backed decisions. If the school-monitoring system dashboard displays that school facilities in a certain district are not repaired, or that non-teaching staff is not in attendance, the School Education Department is able to immediately contact the District Education Officer and ask for corrective measures to be taken. Since the data is available through an interactive dashboard from the basic tehsil and markaz level right up to the provincial level, it is easy to pinpoint problems at all levels and take decisions accordingly.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The implementation and progress of every project of the Smart Monitoring and Citizen Feedback System is followed through by regular review meetings at multiple tiers with both internal and external stakeholders to ensure that things are running according to plan. Each project has a weekly Cross-Functional Meeting as well as a Development & Operations sync-up meeting. The Project Manager, the Development Team, the Operations Team and all the internal stakeholders are present in these meetings; progress is evaluated according to weekly goals and a weekly report is shared with the Head of Department and the Chairman of PITB. A monthly meeting with a cross-departmental committee is also convened for every project to ensure that inter-departmental coordination is streamlined and that monthly goals are achieved. This meeting includes the Project Manager, the Heads of Department of all relevant departments and a focal person from the department for which the project is developing the technological intervention. The report from this meeting is shared with the Chairman of PITB. At the government level, the senior bureaucracy and the political leadership convene cross-departmental review committees to ensure that projects are being delivered according to proposed timelines. The frequency of these meetings depends on the requirements of the individual projects. Apart from this, the monitoring and evaluation processes for each project may include other review committees tailored to the requirements of the project. The performance for the Disease Surveillance System (DSS), for example, is monitored by three other committees; the Technical Review Committee which meets once a month and includes the Head of Department from PITB, and Additional Secretary from the Health Department and focal person appointed by the World Health Organization. The second is the Inspection Committee, which includes personnel from PITB, WHO and the Health Department, and whose job is to carry out surprise field visits and report their findings through fortnightly. The third is the weekly DSS Cell Meeting, which comprises of appointed persons from WHO, PITB, the Health Department, the University of Faisalabad and King Edward Medical College. These stakeholders meet to monitor weekly data on the 26 communicable diseases covered by DSS and publish a weekly bulletin based on their findings.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The first obstacle faced by this initiative was that of ensuring user-adoption. It was difficult to introduce smartphone-based data collection to a field workforce which was neither highly literate nor technologically proficient. The entertainment charm embedded in the smartphone, alongside trainings at multiple levels and incorporation of worker-feedback in the designing and refinement phases of the application helped immensely in overcoming this. To deal with low-literacy, PITB has actively worked to refine its applications to the point that they contain minimal text; users can now easily navigate through pictorial direction. The refinement process is on-going, the latest smartphones being handed out to field-workers also contain instructional material on the cell-phone and DataPlug, an open-source software platform, updates the users’ applications remotely. Technical challenges faced by the initiative included the task of developing and refining the smartphones applications to make them as basic and user-friendly as possible. The software development team at PITB conducted fieldwork and interacted with users to come up with an interface which is extremely simple and makes sure that navigation and usage is as easy as possible. The system is also continuously refined and updated to smooth-out all technical glitches and loopholes, and ensure that it is fool-proof in terms of the time and location of the data being reported. With hundreds of different applications being used across various government departments to collect enormous amounts of data, these challenges have been successfully overcome. Administrative obstacles were confronted with early on. With huge amounts of data pouring in, it took some time and hard work to define parameters for data analysis so that it could be used for policy-making. By formulating meaningful data analysis tools, having regular meetings with relevant officials and publishing bulletins, PITB has created an efficient system to distil incoming data into policy indicators.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The Smart Monitoring and Citizen Feedback System is working on an unprecedented scale to innovatively tackle problems of poor monitoring, compromised service delivery, petty corruption and alienation across twenty different public departments in the province of Punjab. Having equipped 17, 000 field-workers with smartphones to collect data and reaching out to more than 50,000 citizens daily to verify this data, Smart Monitoring has revolutionized governance by making it automated and proactive. In only two years, the initiative has notably improved service delivery across a number of sectors by making government workers accountable and data verifiable. The Program and Implementation Unit (PMIU) for the School Education Department has equipped all 952 Monitoring and Evaluation Agents (MEAs) with tablets through which they submit data across 6 key indicators, including student teacher attendance and school facilities, on the spot on a monthly visit to all 52, 365 public schools across the province. In only six months of the launch of the project, MEA compliance increased from covering just 11% of the schools to 96%. The data is received in real time and corrective actions are taken immediately. Since the data and its reporting are incorruptible, in a short span of time this initiative has pushed the entire system to become more efficient; attendance of teaching staff has increased to 94% and visits by the District Administrators have gone up from 33% to 95%. The system has also helped solve the endemic problem of public school teachers’ posting records not being corrected; 14, 470 have been corrected so far. Similarly, in the health sector, despite the Extended Immunization Program running in Pakistan for years, the country still accounts for 85% of the world’s polio cases. By launching the eVaccs project, PITB has equipped all 3,000 polio vaccinators across the province with smartphones through which they are required to report their activities. In only three months, vaccinator compliance increased from 22% to 66% and the number of children vaccinated per day has more than doubled, from 12 children per day to 25. Healthwatch, a project launched to track the provision of public medical facilities in ten districts has reported a 100% increase in the number of deliveries that take place in Basic Health Units in only four months by reporting staff attendance and equipment availability. Comparable success can be seen in other projects of the Smart Monitoring and Citizen Feedback System too. The Dengue Tracking and Surveillance System, launched in 2012, helped bring down deaths from the virus from 352 in 2011 to none in 2012 through concentrated preventive-activities; such as fogging, larvaeciding and IRS sprays in locations where larva is spotted and patients are reported. 1,583,922 activities have been reported so far through this application. Crime Mapping, a project launched to report crime in terms of its nature, place and time, has so far entered the data for 54, 693 crimes in two districts. Cluster maps and statistical analysis of this data has enabled the Punjab Police to predict the occurrence of certain types of crime; motorcycle theft, for example, has been seen to occur most often on a certain number of roads late in the evening, and deploy resources accordingly. The initiative’s attempt to pro-actively reaching out to the citizens to verify data reported from the field not only verifies the authenticity of the data but also gives citizens direct access to the government. The feedback system has so far contacted 5, 419, 659 citizens and noted the complaints 111, 984 citizens. Citizens’ complaints are taken note of, the data is analysed and monthly District Scorecards are prepared and sent to the District Cooridination Office of all 36 districts of the province to enable them to gauge the performance of the administrative units of their districts and take corrective actions. The initiative’s widespread impact is remarkable and has been covered widely by international press. The Indian network NDTV covered it in a documentary titled What India can Learn About E-Governance from Pakistan and the World Bank carried a feature on it titled Leveraging Mobile Phones for Innovative Governance Solutions in Pakistan. The impact for all of the projects under the Smart Monitoring Service is measured by analysing the data received from each project and publishing the data.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The Smart Monitoring and Citizen Feedback System’s large impact, remarkable success and wide usage have helped safeguard its sustainability. The initiative began from the development of a single smartphone application and the procurement of 1500 smartphones. In the span of only two years it has expanded to cover over 60 applications and the usage of 17,000 smartphones. The concrete outputs and benefits of the initiative in terms of governance automation, effective monitoring and improved service delivery has ensured that it has found great traction in the public sector of Punjab. All 36 district governments have procured smartphones from their own budgets to enhance the use of Smart Monitoring in their administration. PITB has handled the initiative in such a way as to make sure that the public departments for whom the projects are designed and implemented do not remain dependant on PITB for technical support. DataPlug, an open-source software platform has been created to allow departments and organizations to create their own customized applications through a simple and intuitive drag-and-drop function. DataPlug also enables the remote update of applications so workers and departments no longer have to go anywhere to have their applications updated. This technology-transfer aspect is crucial to the sustainability of the initiative. Pakistan has a 76% mobile-phone penetration and over the last two years, smartphone usage has become widespread in the society. The ease with which government workers and officials adapt to monitoring through smartphones has become a lot greater as a result. PITB’s software development team is also continuously and refining and improving the applications to make them as simple and intuitive-to-use as possible and maximize their functionality and acceptance. Facial-recognition software, for example, has been introduced in a number of applications to make it easier to analyse data which contains pictorial evidence (eg. school attendance). Through extensive training, public departments have now become well-versed in carrying out data-analytics and handling the back-end dashboards of applications. This has helped institutionalize the concept of Smart Monitoring in the government sector; nearly 70% of all the public departments in the province are now involved in Smart Monitoring projects. Although the initiative covers only the province of Punjab, its open-source systems can easily be replicated nationally and internationally. The quick adoption of Smart Monitoring by so many public departments over a short time has ensured that it has financial from the Government of Punjab. Apart from this, international organizations such as the World Bank and the British Department for International Development (DFID) have also extended funding. The World Bank’s key Punjab Public Monitoring and Reform (PPMRP) Project has extended budgetary funding to the initiative for technological innovation across seven public departments for 5 years.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The success of the initiative surpassed expectations. Using a technology as simple, cheap and widely available as a smartphone, a dynamic system has been created to address such deep-rooted problems such as poor monitoring, petty corruption and handicapped service delivery. The fact that the Smart Monitoring and Citizen Feedback System grew rapidly and found such great acceptance in the public sector shows that creative technological interventions can be successful even among a populace that doesn’t seem to be very technologically proficient. The initiative is designed to improve service delivery through effective monitoring which provides verified data. This data is then used to make evidence-backed decisions in public sector. Although this sounds simple, it was far from being so; it took a while to set up a system which could effectively analyse the data. Just using the technology doesn’t solve the problems; you have to create an infrastructure to make meaningful sense of the data so that it can be used to back policy-making. It is also extremely important to consider the human side of any technological intervention; workers have to be trained extensively and software designers must spend time with them in the field to understand their requirements. Additionally, when interacting with citizens, it is important to set up calibrate their expectations; it needs to be conveyed that obtaining citizen feedback doesn’t mean that citizens could use it as a traditional complaint center. The system has been very successful in Punjab; it is simple and the model can be easily replicated both nationally and internationally.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Punjab Information Technology Board
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Sarah Ahmad
Title:   Program Officer  
Telephone/ Fax:   03214017788 /99232123
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   sarah.ahmad@pitb.gov.pk  
Address:   346 - B , Main Ferozpur Road
Postal Code:   54600
City:   Lahore
State/Province:   Punjab
Country:  

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