Friday, 18 December 2015

Stakeholder workshop December 2015

The project ended the year with a stakeholder workshop on the 7th December 2015. This was an opportunity to share our research with stakeholders and to get input from stakeholders on our research agenda for 2016. The workshop was well attended with representatives from the City, the Province and other partner organisations, and there was lively debate about the research presented as well as good ideas for future investigation.

After an update on the project progress for 2016, research was presented in two themes. The first session presented research around how a smart city contributes to quality of life. Two studies were presented, the first looking at how being digitally connected relates to quality of life and the second looking at how the use of apps benefits residents. These studies show that smart city services do contribute to quality of life.

In the second session three studies were presented looking at resident’s information needs and behaviour. The first study examined why people do or do not use smart city services that have been provided by the City. The second tested the e-skills of residents in city libraries to assess whether they are able to make use of digital services being provided. The third study presented an analysis of the types of people who use the City’s web site, analysing their information needs and how well the City’s web site meets them. These three studies all reflected on the unequal access that residents have to smart city services in Johannesburg and Gauteng.

The project team are grateful to stakeholders for their continued interest in and support of our research and look forward to future fruitful engagement. 

Links to the presentations are provided here:

Bursary for MCom studies in 2016

The Information Systems for Smart Cities in Africa project has a bursary for a student to complete a full-time Master of Commerce by research in Information Systems during 2016.

The bursary is valued at (South African rand) R40 000 and can be used towards fees and living expenses. The research project will also cover expenses incurred in conducting the research. The successful student will be provided with shared office space and the tools needed to complete the research. In return they will be expected to take responsibility for aspects of running of the research project and to participate in seminars and departmental activities. More information about postgraduate studies at the University of the Witwatersrand can be found at

Interested applicants should have a good honours degree (4-year bachelor’s degree) in information systems with solid research experience. Please apply online ( for entry into the MCom degree and also send a complete CV and a letter motivating your selection to the project to Professor Judy Backhouse ( Applications close on the 15th January 2016. You can contact Professor Backhouse by e-mail or on +27 11 717 8161 for more information.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Paper presented at CIRN Conference, Prato

Malefa Topo traveled to Italy last month to present a paper and a research poster titled "Explaining the Use and Non-Use of Smart Cities Services in Johannesburg: Residents’ Perspectives" at the 12th Prato Community Informatics Research Network (CIRN) conference. The paper was based on preliminary results from her master's research that examined what makes residents use or not use Smart Cities services, to try and identify ways that will ensure that all residents have the privilege of using the provided Smart City services. Preliminary results showed that existing models that explain use and non-use need to be expanded to take account of issues of awareness, access, and trust that arise in a developing country context.

Malefa Topo with her research poster
The conference, hosted by Monash University at their centre in Prato, ran from the 9th to the 11th November 2015. Topics relating to information and knowledge sharing and how the production of information and knowledge can reflect unequal distributions of power and privileges were discussed at the conference. The conference also included a workshop on ethics, diversity, and inclusion that aimed to move towards approaches that ensure that ICT facilitates social inclusion and equal privileges.
Malefa Topo networking with other researchers
A copy of the paper can be downloaded here:
Topo and Backhouse (2015). Explaining the use and non-use of Smart City services in Johannesburg: Residents' perspectives. Paper presented at the 12th Prato CIRN Conference 9-11 November 2015, Prato, Italy.