Mobilizing the Population

Feature Article | January 23, 2012 by Jennifer Lankheim

You’re walking along a street in your city or town, and you see a piece of dangerous debris in the roadway. Or maybe you spot an overflowing trash can, or some offensive graffiti. You’re a good citizen, but – really – how likely are you to head home, research the appropriate government agency, look up contact details, and then spend time on the phone connecting to the right person to report the issue?

Now, imagine yourself on that same street coming across graffiti, roadway debris, or teeming trash. You snap a picture with your smartphone, and just a few taps later the issue is reported to your local government – complete with the exact location via GPS – and directed to the right department. Later, you can track the case with your mobile phone to monitor how the local authority responds.

You’re a lot more likely to take action in the second scenario, and a new mobile app from SAP makes it possible. SAP Citizen Connect is a self-service channel for citizens to report public issues to local authorities. It connects to SAP CRM and SAP ERP back-ends, enabling municipalities to enhance the value of an existing SAP infrastructure.

“Mobile reporting gives citizens a quick and convenient way to interact with local government,” says Andreas Muno, SAP solution manager for Mobility in the public services sector. “For governments, it offers a contemporary way to engage and connect with citizens; convey a fresh, modern brand; and improve efficiency by reducing call-center workload and streamlining processing.”

Examples of the kind of issues citizens might report via SAP Citizen Connect include graffiti, potholes,  flooded streets, felled power lines, overflowing trash, and  broken playground equipment. GPS built into smartphones automatically transmits a physical location, and built-in cameras allow mobile users to submit photos. When reporting, citizens tag their issue in pre-configured, custom categories for automatic processing in the city’s backend system.

Citizens can then track their issue, which Muno says can help improve government services generally. “In effect, citizens use the app to monitor the city’s performance, which is incentive for municipalities to make their processes more streamlined and cost-effective.”

Meanwhile, SAP Citizen Connect addresses two key trends driving change in citizen-centric service agencies: efficiency (doing more with less) and the demand for municipal services that are intuitive and easy to access. “Citizens expect the level of service they get from interactions with private sector entities like Amazon.com and online banking,” says Muno. “And they expect this better service despite diminished resources and revenue.”

SAP customers running ERP 6 or CRM 7.01 can implement SAP Citizen Connect in a matter of days.   Once deployed, the customized SAP Citizen Connect mobile app can be offered to citizens via the local agency’s web site.

When a citizen initiates and categorizes a report, a case (CRM) or notification (ERP) is created, capturing the data and initiating a workflow. The categories are configurable in the SAP backend, as are the associated workflows.

“It is quite flexible and easy to brand,” says Muno. “An organization can put its own brand on the start page of the app and that makes SAP Citizen Connect a very powerful marketing instrument for dealing with citizens and consumers.”

SAP Citizen Connect is relevant not only to public service agencies and governments, but any business that has facilities and/or physical assets to maintain. Enterprises, for example, might use SAP Citizen Connect to allow employees to quickly report issues on corporate campuses to facility management.

SAP Citizen Connect was released in October 2011. “We based our development on research we conducted in cities that have successfully deployed mobile reporting applications, including San Francisco, Toronto, and Boston,” says Muno.

Anyone can download the SAP Citizen Connect application free from the Apple iTunes store. Of course, unless the mobile app is connected to a backend system, it’s just a “sandbox.” Customers can learn more and download the SAP Citizen Connect application from the SAP EcoHub or ask their sales representative for a live demo.

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