Formula D interactive wins Better Living Challenge with Cityspec app

Rapid urban growth has presented major challenges to basic service delivery in Cape Town’s informal settlements. Rapid urban growth has presented major challenges to basic service delivery in Cape Town’s informal settlements.

Formula D interactive, in partnership with the Violence Protection through Urban Upgrading (VPUU) initiative in Khayelitsha, won the Better Living Challenge competition in the category “connected home” with its app Cityspec—a mobile inspection tool for service delivery in informal settlements.

Rapid urban growth has presented major challenges to basic service delivery in Cape Town’s informal settlements. Toilets, taps and streetlights are often broken or are not maintained often simply because municipality is not aware of the damaged facilities. 

The Cityspec app is a mobile inspection tool which enables civil society organisations and community workers to monitor and administer basic service delivery in informal settlements. The app allows them to log reports in the field, take photos, and provide accurate GPS co-ordinates automatically.

Formula D interactive Chief Executive Officer Michael Wolf said the partners worked closely with community facility inspectors to determine what they needed. This is the reason Formula D partnered with VPUU, an NGO that is committed to a participatory approach to ensure that communities “take charge of the planning, implementation, and most importantly, the management” of the community agreed programmes.

VPUU Cityspec Project Manager Iris Taani said the software enables community workers to log reports directly to a central database. “The system gives users access to parts lists with reference drawings to describe possible faults as precisely as possible.”

Cityspec also provides a web based control centre for coordinators to create and track tasks for specific workers, inspection items, and areas. The system also generates data for reports needed by the city to action immediate remedial work.”

“As designers we know that technological design can only succeed if we fully understand the situation and behaviours of our target audience,” said Wolf. “This is why we have ensured the app is being tested with users in various stages of the development. As we speak, service delivery inspection patrols are piloting the app in Khayelitsha.”

The prize is worth R500,000 of support services to assist Formula D to improve the app and take the solution to the market. 

The Better Living Challenge, a design competition managed by the Cape Craft & Design Institute (CCDI) on behalf of the Western Cape Government, attracted 130 designers, thinkers, and community activists interested in green and affordable solutions to improve the homes of people living in low-income communities. It forms part of the World Design Capital 2014 initiative.

A jury of experts as well as public votes from visitors to an exhibition at Station Forecourt in October made the selection of 3 winners in the categories structural home; the comfortable home; and—the one in which Formula D interactive was successful—the connected home.

A senior patron of the project, Western Cape economic opportunities MEC Alan Winde announced the Better Living Challenge winners at Cape Town City Hall on 25 November.

“This is an important win,” said Wolf. “The services we won with the award will help us reach our project goal, which is to help improve the situation of people living in Cape Town’s low income areas.”

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