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SMS Gate for service delivery in PNG

The Department of Implementation and Rural Development (DIRD) and Digicel (PNG) Limited on Thursday signed a Contract Service Agreement “The SMS Gateway Service” to better enable real-time data collection across the country.

This follows after DIRD has developed a partnership under the public private partnership (PPP) arrangement with UNICEF Papua New Guinea to utilize new mobile technology called RapidPro.

RapidPro is UNICEF’s mobile based system for real- time data collection for improved monitoring of service delivery. It is a communication engine to power connections among decision makers, frontline workers and government partners.

Digicel have been utilised as a provider for RapidPro projects in other countries and they have demonstrated the technical capability needed to host the RapidPro platform here in PNG. They have a proficient grasp of the needs of the project in the pilot phase.

While signing the agreement with DIRD Acting Secretary Paul Sai’i, Digicel’s head of Advertising Dave Hammond stressed that SMS information service provided by DIRD would allow its own clients with the DIRD’s system with survey questions based on district administration and acquittals.

Hammond said they are happy to work in partnership with DIRD and UNICEF in such project because it would allows government and partners to visually build scalable mobile-based applications to collect and display information to improve development planning and programming.

“Digicel has 96% of market share and its coverage is considered to reach most parts of the country, and we hope the data collection would be going to grow bigger and better so that data can be used to make decision,” Hammond said.

UNICEF country representative Baba Danbappa said RapidPro powers the way governments and development partners connect, engage, and collaborate directly with the most important and often most marginalized voices in their communities.

Secretary Sai’i said DIRD has identified an opportunity to utilize new mobile technology to assist with the institutionalisation of the District Information Management System (DIMS).

He said DIMS is an initiative developed to establish a system for the collection and analysis of basic socio-economic and development projects across all the 89 districts of PNG.

“It will help produce profile of districts and develop an assets database. DIMS outputs are vital for the successful implementation of service improvement program (PSIP, DSIP & LLGSIP) and other development interventions at the sub-national level,” Sai’i said.

Sai’i said this project aims to strengthen the collection of district level data to inform policy making and programmes. DIRD is in the process of identifying options to institutionalize DIMS within government and through RapidPro to ensure the timely and sustainable collection of real-time data from the district level.

The main application of RapidPro relate to real-time monitoring and citizen engagement across key development sectors including health, education, water and sanitation, children protection among others.

RapidPro will be initially tested in one- two districts this year to capture primarily social sector data using mobile handheld devices.

The primary aim will be to test the system (e.g. messaging, response system, analytics, flow activity) for eventual scaling up, with the overall objective to monitor the implementation of DSIP and strengthen decentralized planning and monitoring systems that produce and use disaggregated data for planning and policy-making.

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