Enhancing Transparency and Effectiveness of Innovations in FCV Settings


The Geo-Enabling Initiative for Monitoring and Supervision (GEMS) at the World Bank supports governments in improving the transparency and accountability of development projects in contexts with limited physical access due to situations of Fragility and Conflict, and Violence (FCV), as well as due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To accomplish this, GEMS support the creation of locally-owned and sustainable data collection and analysis systems that work effectively in low-capacity and low-resource environments. In order to systematically enhance direct engagement with citizens in such contexts, the team aimed to develop a digital tool and method to gather structured feedback from local populations living in areas without internet penetration. Therefore, the GEMS team approached The Cal Poly Digital Transformation Hub (DxHub) powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) to develop an innovative way to integrate low-tech data collection tools at the front-end with advanced analytical functions at the back-


Many of these engagements take place in areas with high poverty levels and low telecommunication infrastructure. In addition, there is often a high level of illiteracy with limited access to modern technology resources. In some regions, mobile penetration hovers around 50% and a minority of citizens have access to smart phones or tablets. This lack of access to internet-enabled devices limits the methods that can be used for digital solutions. The challenge was to develop relevant technological components that are simple to use and efficient in FCV settings. The team, therefore, focused on low-tech solutions that would provide the data needed to monitor and illustrate overall effectiveness of individual engagements.

Innovation in Action

The objective was to help establish a mechanism that provides a clear and transparent framework for addressing grievances in contexts where systematic citizen engagement has been challenging. Any solution needed to be as low tech as possible and accessible by individuals who may not be able to read. After reviewing technologies that allow for feedback that could be digitized and aggregated, the landscape revealed landline telephones and simple flip-phones that would allow a simple chatbot to interact using SMS technology. The GEMS team needed a quick solution that could potentially be used in the field within a few months.


For the call-based solution, the team turned to an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) platform using AWS Connect. AWS Connect allowed the team to quickly design a phone call response tool that is capable of processing multiple languages and offers customizable workflows to prompt the beneficiary appropriately given a previous response. The audio is then pushed to AWS Kinesis to allow AWS Transcribe to convert the spoken word to text. These interactions are written to a DynamoDB table for analysis. In parallel, the team developed a ChatBot to interact with citizens that had access to SMS capability. The Twillio voice API is used to send responses to AWS API Gateway which consumes messages and pushes them to an AWS RDS MySQL database. To help aggregate the data from both systems, a python program was written to pull
data from DynamoDB and MySQL into a near real-time dashboard for analysts to consume.

Supporting Documents

Source Code All of the code and assets developed during the course of creating the prototype.
Architecture Diagram A diagram that describes the technical components needed to implement the solution.

About the DxHub

The Cal Poly Digital Transformation Hub (DxHub) is a strategic relationship with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and is the world’s first cloud innovation center supported by AWS on a University campus. The primary goal of the DxHub is to provide real-world problem-solving experiences to students by immersing them in the application of proven innovation methods in combination with the latest technologies to solve important challenges in the public sector. The challenges being addressed cover a wide variety of topics including homelessness, evidence-based policing, digital literacy, virtual cybersecurity laboratories and many others. The DxHub leverages the deep subject matter expertise of government, education and non-profit organizations to clearly understand the customers affected by public sector challenges and develops solutions that meet the customer needs.