Inclusive development using a micro-tasking approach for building smart communities

18 Dec 2020

African communities suffer a series of socio-economic challenges that seem difficult to eradicate. The challenges include lack of access to essential services and infrastructure; high levels of poverty, and unemployment, especially amongst the youth. The advent and adoption of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), particularly mobile technologies in Africa has led to a number of initiatives that attempt to eradicate some of these challenges. This has also led to young people, a majority in Africa, to play a critical role in contributing towards addressing African challenges with African solutions. At the same time, ICTs are changing the conditions of living in communities; how people communicate, work, produce and distribute knowledge. Businesses and governments are exploiting ICTs to create employment, stimulate economic growth, and solve problems in innovative ways. However, it is worth noting that although some technology-centric solutions have enjoyed successes, ICTs have not always achieved the desired and envisaged impact in communities. In most cases where technology has made inroads, the human factor has been a key differentiator, indicating that technology alone is not a solution. This paper explores a smart community approach that motivates for the impactful transformation, adoption and use of technology in digital villages to achieve the desired outcome in an ICT inclusive participatory development approach to benefit the entire community. In this descriptive research, authors share some of their research experiences from direct involvement in a number of Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) projects that had objectives of addressing our local social challenges. The main contribution from this paper is the proposal of a micro-tasking approach for building smart communities that perceive citizens as problem identifiers and solvers, producers and consumers of local solutions, leaders and followers, and owners as well as beneficiaries of any intervention in their communities whether addressed using technology or other traditional means.