SEMA’s mission is to make public service more accountable and transparent by creating interactive dialogue and feedback loops between the consumers (the public) and the providers (government and public institutions). The ability to provide anonymous, real-time feedback not only improves service delivery for citizens, but also reins in corruption, apathy and dissatisfaction. Originally founded in the Netherlands, SEMA was awarded the D-prize in December 2017 for a pilot project in Kampala, Uganda and an additional grant from Hague-based Knowledge Management Fund in May 2018 to test out SEMA’s theory of change. SEMA has now become completely localized in Uganda, staffed by a local core team and advisory board. Financial support from government agencies speaks to the validity of their approach to furthering open government by providing localized feedback to assist public services in directly addressing citizen perceptions and needs. In the process, SEMA has developed a sustainable financial model by earning revenue through public and private procurements, supplemented by innovation grants and local donations.
Theory of Change
Digital tools enabling anonymous feedback on local public services can ameliorate citizen-government interactions and curb inefficiencies and corruption.
SEMA uses local staff and volunteers to provide services to police stations, courts, immigration offices, municipality offices, and health clinics that yield citizen feedback through a variety of methodologies:
- Face-to-Face interviews conducted by local volunteers;
- Automated interviews using an interactive voice response (IVR) system;
- Feedback using custom-made Internet of Things (IoT) hardware devices.
SEMA devices have gathered point-of-impact customer feedback anonymously from over 100,000 citizens. Since placing devices and conducting other activities with 20 local offices, citizen waiting time has decreased by 80% and satisfaction with service has increased by 62%. In 2019, at four separate locations SEMA’s spotlight on citizen satisfaction has also resulted in a 12% decrease in corruption rates.