A participatory design for a billing system: A South African case study of a community based telephony system
Ufitamahoro, Marie Josee
Tucker, William David
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This paper describes the role participatory design can play in developing and implementing an information and communication technology for development project in a rural area. It shows how the process of co-designing an artifact can reflect and shape social development. A case study was conducted in the Mankosi Community in the Eastern Cape with the aim of designing and implementing a billing system for an existing community-owned telephony system, by accommodating the community’s requirements. Relevant criteria had to be considered for this telephony system based on voice over Internet Protocol with the possibility of ‘break-out’ calls to external networks. Different payment modalities were explored that would allow for a transparent method of both collecting money and applying the collected funds to achieve the project’s sustainability. A participative methodology with future users and operators of the network—using scenarios and prototypes to illustrate the implementation—informed the design of the billing system. Data was collected by means of unstructured interviews and focus group discussions. Qualitative data was analyzed using a qualitative content analysis tool. The community indicated that a billing system, based on both vouchers and prepaid service, would satisfy their needs.