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Uncategorized By Jessica Colaço / May 29, 2012

Translating Online Conversations to Offline Action: The Case of Nairobi Road Safety and Traffic


For those who are frequent users/observers of the Kenyan social networking platforms, you may have picked up on/engaged in trends and initiatives that arise from frustration or a need to transform the status quo as regards service in the private and public sector alike.
You’ve probably used the #TwitterBigStick to express indignation towards poor service, or ranted about a matatu/bus/cab that’s overlapped you or even sought to end the ‘red plate menace’. It’s also likely that you’ve borne witness to an accident, or been the beneficiary of user-generated warnings via campaigns such as Red Cross’ iVolunteer, or even shared on the deplorable state of a road/highway, especially in the wake of the rainy season.

One of the major socio-economic issues raised on the Kenyan digital sphere relates to traffic and road safety. It may well be because this is the one thing that few of us can avoid, especially in a busy city like Nairobi. With super-highways in construction, pot-holes in formation and traffic-lights as mere suggestions(not strict observations), we all, at one point or the other, have been victim or perpetrator.

A recently-released IBM report states that  inefficiencies within the city’s transport sector cost Nairobi an estimated Sh50 million per day. Road accidents are increasing at an alarming rate. We know what the problem is, and likely where the solution lies,but whose job is it to link the two?

How effective is it (or should it be) to tweet about a reckless driver or a matatu that’s completely out of line? Whose job is it to see your tweet/facebook update translate to recourse or punishment, as applies in any given situation? How can the individual, authentic witness accounts generated in no small number, on any given day, on your social media platform of choice, contribute to the much-needed reforms on our roads?

With the abolishment of the Traffic Department of the Kenya Police, and barely any (functional) traffic lights on most roads, how will city traffic be managed?

And while observations, opinions and recommendations are part of the process, they aren’t the solution. So we need to bring to the table all stakeholders: law enforcers, policy makers, opinion shapers,and you, the motorist/cyclist/pedestrian/tweeter/facebook updater.

On June 2nd, at the iHub, from 10 am – 12 noon, this will be the issue discussed. It is fast becoming evident that it isn’t the job of any one person/institution to restore sanity on our roads. It will take collective effort, collective intelligence and collective commitment.

There will be presentations on the IBM report findings and recommendations, app developers and initiatives  dedicated to finding the solution. There will be interactive discussion about what’s lacking and how to bridge the communication gap that exists between the law enforcers and motorists. Most importantly, it will be about establishing collaborative effort (be it lobbying for adoption of tech solutions and citizen engagement in traffic reforms or being the initiators of behaviour change on our roads) and commitment to favorable action.

The event is a mere starting point, and hopes to generate sustained interest in the change process.

Key presentations will include:

  • The Nduru App: allows users to report accidents and situations that are likely to cause a crash.
  • OverlapKE: collating and mapping tweets generated using the #OverlapKE twitter hashtag.
  • iVolunteer: the Red-Cross initiative for digital volunteers to share real-time information on accidents and hazards.

Please sign up here to participate in the event:


Author : Jessica Colaço

Jessica Colaço is currently the Director of Partnerships at iHub. She was the Founding Manager between 2010 and 2011 at iHub and Research Director between 2011 and 2013 at iHub Research. She is passionate about Innovation, Research, Mobile and Robotics Technology, Mentorship and Entrepreneurship in Kenya as she uses her position at iHub to court local, regional and international stakeholders to adopt Kenyan-made and African-made solutions. As an upcoming angel investor, she courts local and international investors to invest in great tech ideas and companies at idea and concept stage. She is also a Mobile and Robotics Tech Evangelist, Co-Founder of WMIAfrica and AkiraChix, ISOC-Kenya Chapter, Treasurer, ACM-W Nairobi Chapter Chair, TED Global Fellow 2009 and upcoming Guitarist. She was named one of the top 40 women under 40 years in Kenya's business scene by Business Daily on 2009, 2011 and 2012. Her endeavour is to put Kenya and Africa on the map for technology achievements and spur innovation within the country and continent! She blogs at:

  • Maui Yambo at 07:01:54AM Friday, June 1, 2012

    A powerful way to leverage online data — to harness conversations into consequential action. That is how societies evolve; that is the basis of progress.

  • Tech 4 Traffic: Insights,Platforms and Suggestions (Part 1) | Nanjira : Confessions Of Aquila at 19:15:02PM Sunday, July 15, 2012

    [...] cities. And it’s against that backdrop that an offline event was organized, that sought to translate online conversations to offline action, as regards Nairobi road safety and traffic. Interested parties, stakeholders and everyone in [...]

  • Tech 4 Traffic: Insights, Platforms and Suggestions (Part 2) | Nanjira : Confessions Of Aquila at 08:19:51AM Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    [...] Part 1 of the series, the tech-driven platforms showcased at the Tech 4 Traffic  event were profiled. The fact that from a policy perspective, we have the problem figured out all [...]

  • Tech 4 Traffic: Insights, Platforms and Suggestions (Part 3) | Nanjira : Confessions Of Aquila at 10:22:12AM Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    [...] thanks to Ramah Nyang’, Noni Maingi , Bankelele, the iHub team, Sprint Interactive and all presenters/developers, without whom all this wouldn’t have been [...]


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