Revolutionizing Civic Engagement: The Story of Islah.city in Morocco
In Casablanca, Islah.city has taken root as a transformative initiative, reshaping how citizens engage with their local government. It is not just a tool for reporting issues; it is a catalyst for change and an embodiment of the power of civic participation. This platform, which leverages the FixMyStreet open-source platform originally developed by MySociety in the UK, transcends traditional barriers to civic participation to seamlessly connect citizens with their local government. Problem reports, such as potholes and broken street lights, are reported by citizens and sent to the relevant government authorities to be fixed. Beyond empowering citizens to report problems in their neighborhoods, the aim of Islah.city is to foster collaboration, transparency, and a sense of shared ownership in building vibrant, responsive communities.
Islah.city began from a desire to enhance citizen participation in local governance through technology. We strongly believe that a closer relationship between citizens and their local government is essential for the well-being of communities. Observing a gap in traditional communication channels, we sought to leverage innovative solutions to enable more direct and meaningful interactions between citizens and the local administration. Working with the National Democratic Institute, we identified FixMyStreet as the perfect foundational platform for Islah.city.
As the founder of Islah.city and the National Institute of Innovation and Advanced Technology, I am proud to say that launching Islah.city has been successful, despite some challenges. One of our proudest achievements is how quickly we have been able to resolve critical issues reported through Islah.city. Our platform has been effective in identifying and addressing these problems. Our team’s commitment to transparency, perseverance, and a comprehensive community outreach and education strategy have contributed to the platform’s success. One of the challenges we experienced was citizen skepticism about the impact of citizen reporting on municipal decision-making. To overcome this challenge, we organized workshops, seminars, and awareness campaigns to educate citizens about how their reports can contribute to positive changes in their neighborhoods. Success stories were also shared through various channels, such as social media, local news, and community events, highlighting instances where citizen reports directly influenced municipal decisions and actions.
At Islah.city, we have ambitious plans for expansion within Casablanca and beyond. The integration of AI tools into the platform is a significant focus, as progress has been made in exploring how AI can enhance issue categorization and prioritize problem-solving based on urgency. Issue categorization can assist with report prioritization, optimal resource allocation, and further streamline the problem resolution process. Incorporating AI tools for issue categorization can improve the accuracy and speed of categorization over time, ultimately allowing municipal authorities and relevant stakeholders to quickly identify and address specific types of issues and gain insights into community priorities.
For organizations considering the implementation of FixMyStreet or similar platforms, building trust and ensuring that citizens understand the impact of their reports are critical factors in the success of such initiatives. FixMyStreet facilitates a seamless user experience due to improved multilingual support in the latest versions of the software, making the platform more inclusive. For a culturally and linguistically diverse city like Casablanca, the multilingual support offered by the platform allows Islah.city to tailor its communication for each target audience, and ultimately enable citizens from different language communities to engage with the platform comfortably and inclusively. The FixMyStreet platform has open-source translation projects in 54 languages, 15 of which have 70 percent or more of the platform translated, including in Arabic, French and Spanish.
For Casablanca, Islah.city is a significant step towards ensuring that all citizens can participate in their own governance. We hope that our story inspires others to take action and transform their communities.