Visualising census and electoral data – Wazimap and Census Reporter

Wazimap is a Django application for exploring census and other similar data. It makes it easy to understand a place through the eyes of the data, and to explore data across a range of places. It is most suited for census data but can easily be used with other data that is similarly focused on places in a country.

Wazimap is a fork of the Census Reporter project which was funded by a Knight News Challenge grant. You can also find Censusreporter on GitHub.

Wazimap builds on Census Reporter and makes it easier to re-use. Wazimap was originally built by Code for South Africa with the support of Media Monitoring Africa. It is maintained by Code for South Africa.

Other deployments can be found for Nepal, India and Kenya.

Fact-checking Africa

Africa Check is a non-profit information service which promotes accuracy in public debate. It tests claims made by public figures around the continent, starting in South Africa, using journalistic skills and evidence drawn from the latest online tools, readers, public sources and experts, sorting out fact from fiction. The site contains well-considered research findings on a range of claims, a blog discussing the provenance and accuracy of data and an excellent core of guidance for fact-checkers.

Recent work includes reviews of the South African president’s State of the Nation address and the South African budget.


Africa gets real-time fire information system

October 20, 2010 – Africa: The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has upgraded its Advanced Fire Information System (AFIS) to deliver information on locations of active fires in southern and east Africa in real time, it says.

The satellite-based fire information tool, developed in collaboration with Eskom coupled with cellphone technology for distributing alert messages (or SMSs), is the first of its kind in the world, the CSIR said.

The new AFIS II uses data that is available within 10 minutes after the satellite passes overhead.

Its features mean that government departments, such as the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, civil organisations such as Working on Fire and local fire protection associations, and utilities such as Eskom, are able to set up predefined user profiles to assist them in their tasks at national, municipal and provincial levels.

“For example, Eskom receives alerts whenever fires burn within one km of their transmission lines, which may cause line faults,” the CSIR explained.

The system can provide active fire location data and it is also possible to get burnt area estimates from the satellite images.

It also integrates information on wind speed and direction from 130 automated weather stations every hour.

via Africa gets real-time fire information system.

iBorders Advance Passenger Processing used to control World Cup visitors

South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs today celebrated the success of Advance Passenger Processing (APP), the border management solution from air transport IT specialist SITA, during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The system, which was implemented in just nine months, successfully kept “undesirables” from entering the country during the tournament.

More than 1.5 million passengers were processed in June and July using SITA’s technology, 350 were subjected to extra examination while more than 60 people were stopped from entering because their names appeared on South Africa’s Visa and Entry Stop List or watch lists provided by Interpol and soccer’s governing body FIFA.

SITA’s solution, iBorders APP, effectively moves the country’s borders to the point of departure. It allows airlines and governments to transfer passport details in an interactive and real-time manner enabling instructions to be sent as passengers check-in, to prevent those who would be denied entry to the country from boarding the aircraft. As it eliminates fines associated with the transportation of inadmissible travellers, airlines flying to South Africa are expected to save millions of dollars in processing and repatriation fees.

via SITA helps secure South Africa’s borders |

Gauteng Legislature Information Management System Fails

After R20 million of public funds have been wasted, a forensic audit will be carried out on a dysfunctional IT system in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL). The Legislature Information Management System (LIMS), implemented by troubled vendor Faritec, was a project meant to automate a variety of processes and functions within the institution to improve efficiency, according to GPL speaker Lindiwe Maseko.

The automated system was supposed to improve, among other things, capabilities for public participation through the implementation of an electronic petitions system, access to institutional documentation by implementation of a secure central documents repository, and preservation and retention of institutional memory.

Political advisor to the speaker Mzi Khumalo explains that citizens were supposed to be able to send through e-petitions, but only two were ever logged in the system, which was usually not working. Citizens should also have been able to comment on new laws through a function of the system called e-Law.

However, during the GPL budget council last year, the LIMS project was deliberated upon where the concern was that, after five years and after R20 million was invested, the system is still not fully operational and its value not realised, says Maseko.

via Gauteng Legislature’s R20m failure | ITWeb.

The village scribe project – empowering rural villages

The Village Scribe Association (or more formally the Association for the Advancement of Innovative ICTs for Rural Development) is working on a number of interesting projects in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa. The Village Scribe Project is aimed at providing remote rural communities with meaningful access to the internet.

As it stands, the community cannot make use of the opportunities being offered on the Internet because they lack sufficient awareness and understanding of the multiplicity of concepts required to master the tool. Only a person who is part of the community but also understands the Internet is able to make the resource available to everyone. It is this concept that gives our Association its name: the village scribe is someone who brings digital services to the community to improve their lives…

Accommodation database for 2010 World Cup

South Africa is banking on its upgraded contact centre and the internet to help solve accommodation and other issues related to visitors who will attend the 2010 Soccer World Cup. At a press briefing yesterday, Sindiswa Nhlumayo, deputy director for tourism at the Department of Tourism, said the Web address for the accommodation and listing portal will be It will serve as a tool to service providers to get their stock on the market.

She said there will be no charge for the portal’s services, but “a small fee will be levied for every successful transaction”. It will also be an easy to use point of service for local and international travellers to locate and book accommodation in SA. Information for the booking portal will be provided by a database that was created as a result of an audit that used information gathered from all the provinces, the Federated Hospitality Association of SA and the Tourism Business Council of SA. Nhlumayo said this had determined there were 202 712 rooms and 405 424 beds available for the event.

The contact centre, which will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is an upgrade of the existing SA Tourism call centre, which is currently run by CCN. “We now call it a contact centre and not a call centre because it has been significantly upgraded to use various communications technologies, and it is now able to offer English, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese and, by next year February, Spanish,” Nhlumayo said.

via Paul Vecchiatto on ITWeb, 9 Dec 2009

South Africa resurrects Smart ID card project

The South African  Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will award the tender for its long-awaited smart ID card project within the current financial year. Following the cancellation of the project earlier this year, the DHA says it has requested National Treasury to restart the tender process. The department says, despite the delays, the smart card ID project is still one of its crucial plans. The DHA was mandated by Cabinet to replace the national identity document with a smart ID card. The smart cards, which will have embedded chips in them, are set to be used for a number of functions, such as the payment of pensions and social grants. Other possible uses are being considered.

Another murky South African tender?

Are multinational software companies using unqualified BEE front companies in South Africa to win lucrative, and sometimes dodgy, government contracts?

Following an outcry over a R153 million ($20m) tender, the South African Department of Trade and Industry has authorised an independent investigation into the awarding of the controversial bid by the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (Cipro).

While trade and industry minister Rob Davies has come out in support of the tender, saying correct tender procedures were followed, he has also consented to a forensic report by the auditor-general on the enterprise content management tender.

The contract was won by Valor IT, a relatively unknown company, which has a partnership with US software company Vignette which was bought earlier this year by Open Text which has a strategic alliance with SAP who together with Oracle have carved up the African market for large databases, business management and enterprise resource planning.

The only competitor for the contract was another BEE company Faritec who put in a bid of R60m, less than half that of Valor. Faritec has partnerships with IBM and  Hansen (recently taken over by Infor) which specialises in the development of government applications on IBM platforms.

The project aims, by February 2011, to change CIPRO’s back office (to SAP?), deploy intelligent forms to capture data from all its clients (using OpenText?) and digitise 700 million documents.