A Better Life Under Table Mountain

Kapstadt (Foto: Shutterstock)
Cape Town (Photo: Shutterstock)

Even Cape Town’s unpleasant side has a certain class. “Could you spare a few coins? I haven’t had anything to eat for two days,” a young man says to me. He reveals his name as Andy, and his exquisite politeness con­trasts shar­ply with the filthy clothes he is wea­ring. This gaunt figure stands be­fore me and begs for a little money so he can buy a few slices of dried bread.

Andy has ap­proached me in Long Street, just a few yards from the ele­gant luxury hotel Pepper Club. In this quar­ter right in the heart of the city, where busi­nesspeople rub shoul­ders with up-and-coming artists, the home­less, and back­packers, the con­tra­dic­tions of Cape Town real­ly are tang­ible. At the same time, you can feel the city’s vi­ta­lity here most intense­ly. Even on a week­day, the clubs don’t close un­til the small hours. Andy doesn’t care. He dis­ap­pears around the next corner with a few rands.

Cape Town: a city of contrasts

Quality of life and poverty go hand-in-hand in per­haps the world’s most beau­ti­ful city. Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson makes no secret­ of these prob­lems. Un­em­ploy­ment, AIDS, tuberculosis, drugs, and cri­mi­na­li­ty form an ex­plo­sive mix­ture and pose a per­ma­nent chal­lenge. That’s why the pop­u­la­tion has a great need for sec­ur­ity and why vi­si­tors should si­mi­lar­ly ex­er­cise cau­tion as they would do when enter­ing any foreign city.

Next page: More and more global companies settling in Cape Town

On the other hand, there is a great deal of tolerance between com­mu­ni­ties, whether on the basis of race or re­li­gion. “We’ve learnt to live together,” says Neilson. Sim­ul­taneously, more and more glo­bal com­pa­nies are sett­ling in the re­gion. In par­ti­cu­lar, the ser­vice in­dus­try values the pop­ulation’s lang­uage skills and is open­ing an in­creas­ing num­ber of call cen­ters, Neilson ex­plains. De­vel­op­ing the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tion in­fra­struc­ture is there­fore high up his list of priori­ties. En­er­gy sup­ply, edu­ca­tion, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, and trans­port are other areas in which the ad­mi­ni­stra­tion is spe­ci­fi­cal­ly in­ves­ting. If Cape Town wants to win the com­pe­ti­tion for la­bor and ta­lent, it needs to in­crease its at­trac­tive­ness for both the in­dus­try and its ci­ti­zens. The in­ter­na­tional, highly-edu­cat­ed top ta­lents have their pick of where they want to work in the future.

Cape Town’s broad ERP strategy

Behind an excellent location there is usually a first-class IT infrastructure. “Deploying technology makes organizational changes possible,” says André Stelzner, long-time chief information officer at the City of Cape Town. And Stelzner takes a special approach: he and his team pursue a broad ERP stra­te­gy that avoids sys­tem mo­di­fi­ca­tions and cre­ative­ly ex­ploits the op­por­tu­ni­ties of the ap­pli­ca­tions. “I don’t need to im­ple­ment an en­tire ERP system if I only want to use fin­an­cials func­tions,” Stelzner ex­plains. As a result, Cape Town is a ma­jor SAP cus­tomer. The city’s SAP sys­tem maps around 450 end-to-end busi­ness pro­ces­ses. These in­clude trans­ac­tions in fi­nan­cials, HR, lo­gis­tics, fa­cili­ty manage­ment, space manage­ment, and re­por­ting – to name but a few. And the real es­tate mo­dule is also used, for ex­ample, to ma­nage the graves in Cape Town’s cemeteries.

In the years immediately after the SAP implementation, the City of Cape Town main­ly used the back of­fice func­tions to op­ti­mize its in­ter­nal busi­ness proc­es­ses. But now, ever more ser­vi­ces for ci­ti­zens are being en­hanced and in­tro­duced. Of course, the re­gu­la­tory bo­dies have to be con­vinced that the IT sys­tem will be pro­fi­table, Stelzner says. More trans­pa­ren­cy and cost control, more streamlined pro­ces­ses in ad­mi­ni­stra­tion, plus a return on in­ves­tment are necessary to justi­fy fu­ture in­vest­ments in IT. And in a city where many people don’t have a roof over their heads, it is even more im­por­tant to ex­plain why so much money is be­ing spent “on computers.” But, as Stelzner stresses, “A citizen-centered ad­mi­nis­tra­tion must al­ways en­sure that these chan­ges be­ne­fit so­cie­ty and individuals.”

Next page: SAP Customer Relationship Management for citizen services

A core element of Cape Town’s citizen services is the city’s cen­tral call cen­ter, which runs on SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM). Each ci­ti­zen has their own data record in the sys­tem, which con­tains all the rele­vant in­for­ma­tion. Ac­cor­ding to Stelzner, the ob­jec­tive is to gain a com­pre­hen­sive view of each ci­ti­zen so that suit­able ser­vices can then be of­fered to them. The in­tro­duc­tion of toll-free hotlines to the call center makes it easier for citizens to con­tact the city administration. Cus­to­mers can be served in se­ver­al lang­uages. Every year, the em­ployees pro­cess around 1.2 million calls. Of course, it’s also possible to con­tact the city ad­mi­nis­tra­tion through social media such as Facebook.

Power to the people: city calls citizens to save energy

Stelzner views the city as having a give-and-take relationship with its citizens, although the administration always has to use sup­por­ting measures to con­vince people. He says, “We need a change in be­havior. One day we’ll have no wa­ter and no elec­tri­ci­ty. That’s not a dis­tant threat, but a real scenario.” That’s why Cape Town’s home­page in­cludes many tips for saving energy. At the same time, using pos­ters that read “Save,” the city calls upon the po­pu­lation to save elec­tri­city – other­wise power has to be li­mi­ted over certain periods.

To control the power supply better in the future, the city has taken a num­ber of steps, in­clu­ding im­ple­ment­ing SAP Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) Integration for Utilities. On the one hand, this en­ables the city ad­mi­nis­tra­tion to read elec­tri­ci­ty con­sump­tion re­mote­ly, which is cost-efficient. On the other hand, it can offer com­pa­nies and house­holds in­di­vi­dual price mo­dels, de­pen­ding on their user be­havior: smart me­ter­ing for the smart city, to ba­lance out sup­ply and demand.

Next page: Smart me­ter­ing for the smart city

In terms of waste disposal, Cape Town also wants to tread new paths and re­ward those who create less waste. There are plans for the waste collec­tion and dis­posal fee to be based on quan­ti­ty, with SAP-con­trol­led RFID tags used to manage the sys­tem. Further­more, the city has launched a num­ber of e-services. This is where ci­ti­zens pay cer­tain fees online or use the Internet to report road damage or de­fec­tive street light­ing. And if you’ve lost your fa­mi­ly pet, a special data­base will help you become re­united with it.

SAP HANA to help city firefighters

Stelzner recently licensed SAP software for se­cu­rity so that Cape Town can re­act faster regarding this sen­si­tive issue. The first step involved in­te­gra­ting in­ci­dent manage­ment into the stan­dar­dized SAP plat­form. On a related note, Stelzner has great ex­pec­ta­tions as far as the op­por­tu­ni­ties of real-time com­pu­ting are con­cerned. “In the fu­ture, SAP HANA will no doubt play a role,” he says and he gives an example: be­fore firefight­ers en­ter a burn­ing house, they will have the most up-to-date build­ing plans from the SAP build­ing manage­ment mo­dule and will know how the team should best tackle the blaze.

And so Cape Town is striking up a new beat, and shift­ing from its old role as a supply station for ships to may­be the most pro­gressive, ci­ti­zen-centric ci­ty on the African continent.

Next page: Cape Town – the Mother City

About Cape Town

Cape Town was founded on April 6, 1652, when the trade com­mis­sioner Jan van Riebeeck, who was sail­ing on a ship belong­ing to the Dutch East India Company, stopped at Table Bay and, the fol­low­ing day, raised the Dutch flag. The tra­ding post quick­ly be­came one of the first me­tro­po­li­tan areas of the co­lo­nial pe­ri­od: It re­pre­sen­ted a safe port for mari­ners sail­ing bet­ween Europe and Asia, and was also known as the “Tavern of the Seas.” Cape Town is South Africa’s oldest city and is also fond­ly re­ferred to as the “Mother City” be­cause – ac­cord­ing to its wit­ty in­ha­bi­tants – “it takes nine months for any­thing to happen.” Cur­rent­ly, its po­pu­la­tion is around 3.7 mil­lion. Cape Town’s share of the country’s gross na­tio­nal pro­duct is almost 16%.

This piece is based on an article that first appeared on SAP Milestones