GIS has brought new perspectives for the municipality. By utilizing this [geographic information] system, we have representation of all the road networks and territorial information to make decisions and effectively manage the community.
Tunisia Municipality Uses GIS for Community Management
The Tunisian municipality of Beni Khalled is home to 26,135 people and is known for its citrus fruit production. In 2022, municipal staff implemented new technologies to enhance services for residents; offer clarity to decision-makers; and improve transparency and communication with the public in order to, ultimately, improve quality of life.
While municipal staff hadn't used a geographic information system (GIS) before, they saw the technology's benefits and turned to Esri distributor Graphtech Esri Tunisia. Graphtech offers services such as application development, consulting, database creation and optimization, data provision, software sales, system integration, technical support, and training.
"We recognize that GIS improves resource management and decision-making at the local level," said Ines El Bechir, GIS applications manager at Graphtech. "Graphtech staff, in collaboration with our partners in Tunisia, are working tirelessly to raise awareness of GIS benefits and to support deploying the technology to the 350 municipalities of Tunisia."
Historically, Beni Khalled municipal staff and officials relied on paper-based systems and observations to manage services. Citizens would need to visit a municipal office to report problems with public features such as lighting, road damage, and waste removal. These inefficient processes provided no geographical detail and were time-consuming for staff to track down, prioritize, repair, and resolve problems.
Municipal staff needed a technology that supported their services by collecting reported community issues and tracking response activity in near real time. Staff needed a solution that they could update and manage for future municipal intervention services.
The municipality of Beni Khalled, Tunisia
The municipality of Beni Khalled wanted to enhance services and better manage community incidents by using digital technology and citizen crowdsourcing.
To improve services, Beni Khalled's municipal staff engaged Graphtech Esri Tunisia to implement GIS technologies and mobile applications to track road and waste-removal data.
Using GIS tools has helped municipal staff by simplifying administrative procedures; reducing incident-escalation and assessment time; enabling the public's engagement; and improving the quality of life of residents.
Participating Graphtech Esri Tunisia partners featured in this article include The African Association for Geospatial Development AGEOS, and Lab Accelerator PNUD Tunisia.
To make the project successful, Beni Khalled's municipal staff used ArcGIS Online. This cloud-based software lets users create web maps, analyze and visualize data, and share stories.
With a comprehensive GIS in place, Graphtech focused on creating a mobile application for citizens to report incidents. Staff employed ArcGIS Survey123, a mobile app that enables users to collect data and create, distribute, and analyze surveys. Graphtech built a survey with categories for users to choose from, such as waste management or lighting. There's also a section for observations. Users can add notes like "burnt-out bulb" or "broken pole." Users can also upload an image to the app and identify the location.
The customized survey app was designed using ArcGIS Experience Builder, a web application that helped create the new app's layout and widgets. The surveys are accessible in Arabic and French, and citizens receive a notification update when the incident they reported has been resolved.
Additionally, municipal staff used ArcGIS Field Maps, an app for smartphones and tablets, to record data on Beni Khalled's road conditions and waste-removal management. In this app, staff can add notes, upload photos, and enter the progress of their work with real-time locations.
The location-based data collected from both Survey123 and Field Maps is then synchronized with the municipality's GIS database. The data is then visualized and presented to municipal agents via a dashboard created using ArcGIS Dashboards. Municipal agents use the dashboard to visualize all citizen-reported incidents and track response progress. The dashboard helps agents prioritize reported incidents and plan services.
Municipal staff use ArcGIS StoryMaps—a digital tool that combines text, videos, photography, and maps—to update and share the real-time dashboard with decision-makers.
With the introduction of GIS technology, Graphtech hosted several trainings for municipal staff and community members, enabling them to learn about the mobile applications. During these trainings, Graphtech staff answered questions and addressed participants' concerns to make sure everyone could make the most of the created geospatial resources.
"We are convinced that GIS is an essential tool for sustainable and efficient community management. We offer trainings and workshops to help municipalities set up their community GIS effectively and maximize its benefits," said El Bechir.
By embracing the power of ArcGIS technology, the municipality of Beni Khalled has achieved many of its goals to better serve its citizens. The municipality's database and custom apps allow staff to regularly update the GIS data and provide real-time information to decision-makers.
"GIS has brought new perspectives for the municipality," said Houneida Haddaji, an elected official of Beni Khalled. "By utilizing this [geographic information] system, we have representation of all the road networks and territorial information to make decisions and effectively manage the community."
GIS tools have simplified administrative procedures for staff and residents. The solution has helped reduce incident-escalation and assessment time, which has greatly improved staff response time. Haddaji added that GIS has enabled citizens to easily participate in the daily management of the municipality, which has improved their quality of life.
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