The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) on April 4 announced the launch of a digital communication platform, Unathi, through which, using natural language-guided questions, citizens can anonymously report Covid-19 symptoms in themselves or their family members, locate the nearest public or private testing facility, report their test activity and results and find the nearest quarantine facility.
The technology automates many time-consuming manual processes and provides government with real-time information to allow for adaptive and responsive decision-making and actions. This platform also gets data feeds coordinated with the National Disaster Management Centre, The National Command Centre and the Department of Health.
"We implore South Africans to speak to us and highlight their Covid-19 status and that of their communities," says Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Deputy Minister Parks Tau.
The Unathi Covid-19 prescreening and early warning digital interface is a ChatBot accessible over WhatsApp and FaceBook Messenger. It assists South Africans by providing Covid-19 testing details and prescreening information, and the South African government by collating and reporting real-time citizen Covid-19-related activity and symptoms. It was developed by GovChat, which is the official South African citizen-government engagement platform.
The Unathi platform was developed in line with government’s district delivery model. As the lead department over the National Disaster Management Act, CoGTA is mandated to capacitate the various government departments with real-time insight and coordinate data across stakeholders, CoGTA stated in a press release.
GovChat’s dashboard feeds will be permanently screened at the National Disaster Management nerve centre to assist the department with planning, resource allocation and coordination of local, provincial and national delivery arms of state.
“As a partner to the South African government, GovChat commits every available resource to support the national government’s efforts to understand the real-time status of this pandemic. Support and value partnerships and rapid, effective, coordinated technology deployment. We have partnered with CoGTA over many years in the development of the features and early warning system which exist today," said GovChat CEO Eldrid Jordaan.