ONLINE LEADERS DISCUSSION FOR CITIZEN PARTICIPATION
A research project submitted to the Department of Mathematics and Informatics in the School of Science in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the award of the degree of Bachelor of Science in Information Technology of Taita Taveta University College.
This project is my original work and has not been presented for a degree in any other University.
This project has been submitted for examination with the approval of the undersigned as the university supervisor;
I will like to thank God for without Him this research and completion of such would not have been possible. The efforts that have gone into the preparation for and completion of this research proposal would not have been possible without the help of several individuals. It is therefore a pleasure to acknowledge the assistance of these individuals during the preparation of this proposal. I greatly appreciate the support of my family members and friends for their kind co-operation and encouragement which helped me in completion of this proposal. I will also like to thank the university lectures for their most valuable advice and assistance during the research process.
Online Leaders Discussion for Citizen Participation is a mobile application that will run on Android OS powered devices that is specifically developed for effective citizen engagement and leaders. Citizens will be able to post their comments and then the leaders will respond to the comments posted. The purpose of the mobile application is to narrow the gaps and barriers that exist to effective citizen engagement in matters leadership and development because most citizens do not participate in the decisions that affect their daily lives, and there is often a lack of trust between citizens and their leaders.
Therefore, leaders in local government, community organizations and public agencies make better decisions and have greater positive impact on their communities when they increase the frequency, diversity, and level of engagement of community residents and therefore a crucial bridge over this gap is the use of appropriate strategies and tools to encourage citizens and leaders to interact regularly, increase their knowledge of each other, and develop trust.
As for the Online Leaders Discussion for Citizen Participation, Rapid Application Development (RAD) will be used as the project methodology. This is because Rapid Application Development (RAD) minimize planning overhead and all phases are planned up front, means the project cannot become infeasible and get canceled. Besides that, requirement analysis tends to be more through and better documented in the Rapid Application Development (RAD).
The mobile application will be used by citizens and leaders. Citizens will be required to login in order to post comments and also leaders will login to respond to comments by citizens. The mobile application will have the following modules: create user account, sign in, post comments by citizens, view comments, and respond to comments by leaders.
In conclusion, the proposed mobile application will help citizens and leaders to interact freely by the citizens posting their questions to the discussion forum seeking response from leaders who will then reply to the posts made by citizens.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS vii
LIST OF FIGURES viii
CHAPTER 1 1
1.1 Background information 1
1.2 Problem Statement 2
1.3 Proposed Solution 3
1.4 Objectives 3
1.4.1 General Objective 3
1.4.2 Specific Objectives 3
1.5 Research Questions 4
1.6 Justification 4
1.7 Scope 4
1.8 Target Users 4
1.8 Limitations 4
2.1 Introduction 5
2.2 Theoretical review 5
2.3 System review 6
2.3.1 The Farming Forum 6
2.3.2 Jamii Forums 7
2.3.3 Sailboat 9
2.3.4 Parallax Forum 10
2.3.5 Prince Fans Discussion Board 11
2.3 Critique of the existing literature 12
2.4 Research gaps 12
2.5 Summary 13
3.1 Introduction 13
3.2 Rapid Application Development 13
3.2.1 Phases 14
3.3 Overview of Rapid Application Development methodology 14
3.4 Requirements elicitation 15
3.4.1 Data Collection Methods and Techniques 15
3.5 Data analysis Methods and Techniques 15
3.6 Logical design and Physical design 16
3.6.1 Activity diagram 16
3.6.2 Use case diagram 17
3.6.3 Class diagram 18
3.8 System requirement specification 18
3.8.1 Functional Requirements 18
3.8.2 Non-Functional Requirement 19
APPENDIX A: Budget 20
APPENDIX B: Project plan 21
APPENDIX C: Hardware Requirements 22
APPENDIX D: Software Requirements 22
APPENDIX D: Sample of the Questionnaire 22
APPENDIX E: Request for administering questionnaire 24
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
RAD – Rapid Application Development
JAD – Joint Application Development
CASE – Computer Aided Software Engineering
SAD - System Analysis and Design
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1 Showing Jamii Forum mobile application screenshot 3
Figure 2 Theoretical review 6
Figure 3 The Farming Forum Screenshot Android Client Application 7
Figure 4 The Farming Forum Screenshot Web interface Software 8
Figure 5 Jamii Forums Screenshot Android client application 9
Figure 6 Jamii Forums 9
Figure 7 Sailboat Screenshot Android client application 10
Figure 8 Sailboat owners 11
Figure 9 Prince Fans Discussion Board 12
Figure 10 Rapid Application Development 21
Figure 11 Activity Diagram 25
Figure 12 Use Case Diagram 26
Figure 13 Class Diagram 27
LIST OF TABLES
Table 1 Budget 29
Table 2 Project plan 30
Table 3 Hardware Requirements 31
Table 4 Software Requirements 31
Table 5 Questionnaire sample 31
1.1 Background information
Allan Bassler et al., (2008), there is a belief that local governments, community organizations and public agencies make better decisions and have greater positive impact on their communities when they increase the frequency, diversity, and level of engagement of community residents.
Citizens of a community are “engaged” when they play an effective role in decision-making. That means they are actively involved in defining the issues, identifying solutions, and developing priorities for action and resources. Local leaders need to broaden their list of responsibilities to include roles as facilitator, supporter, collaborator, and empowerer of local community members. This change requires letting go of some of the traditional reins of power and trusting that citizens can and will effectively engage in the issues. The result is a partnership that is nearly always healthy for a community.
Citizen participation is a tool to help a community make better decisions. It can be applied to many issues. Perhaps there’s a need to resolve a relatively small problem – say, building a softball field in a neighborhood park. A plan to engage neighbors, potential users, and township parks and recreation officials early in the process might involve a small task force to discuss the issue and make a recommendation to the municipality.
Public issues forums bring together a group of citizens and leaders to explore an issue of local or regional interest, such as land use, transportation, health care access, and economic growth. The idea behind this approach is that most people may not have had the opportunity to learn and form an opinion about the issue. The forum approach allows citizens to learn and think about the issue through moderated small group discussions forums with other community members who may have differing viewpoints. Policymakers use this information to guide decision making.
Online access allows citizens to engage a larger portion of the public, in multiple ways, in discussions concerning community issues. Websites, discussion boards, list serves, bulletin boards, and video-teleconferencing provide avenues for individuals to access background materials and engage with experts and other participants (sometimes from far away) to offer suggestions, give recommendations, discuss options, and identify preferences. Electronic access can also help participants overcome barriers to participation, such as geographic location or availability. For example, online community dialogues allow participants to discuss a set of issues over a period of a few weeks. The sponsoring organization provides panelists and moderators to maintain the conversation. Participants respond to questions or potential recommendations offered by the panelists each day. The result is a set of prioritized issues and policy recommendations that can be used by decision-makers within the sponsoring organization.
Discussion forums offer people an opportunity to engage in debate with others anytime, anyplace, and anywhere. Leinonen (2000), points out that the discussion of the group can be viewed as a thread or as a list of notes sorted “by viewers” or by “category of inquiry”. Most online discussion forums are quite similar to Linemen’s description. In this environment, people can share or exchange understandings, viewpoints, comments, or critiques of a certain task or solving problems on it as a thread or a list. Online discussion reflects on online group interaction, because by posting comments makes other people to respond, such as also commenting, questioning, suggesting, or criticizing. Interaction reflects the dynamic characteristic of online discussion.
1.2 Problem Statement
Significant gaps and barriers exist to effective citizen engagement because most citizens do not participate in the decisions that affect their daily lives, and there is often a lack of trust between citizens and their leaders. Local governments, community organizations and public agencies make better decisions and have greater positive impact on their communities when they increase the frequency, diversity, and level of engagement of community residents and therefore a crucial bridge over this gap is the use of appropriate strategies and tools to encourage citizens and local officials to interact regularly, increase their knowledge of each other, and develop trust.
Figure 1 Showing Jamii Forum mobile application screenshot
The proposed system will assist leaders as they engage citizens and stakeholders in local decision-making and other community projects by improving citizen participation in the community efforts.
1.3 Proposed Solution
The proposed solution is to narrow gabs and barriers that exist between leaders and citizens by encouraging citizens actively participate in discussion forum to make decisions hence increasing the knowledge of each other, and develop trust between leaders and citizens. By posting comments to the discussion forum citizens can get their questions answered and also the leaders will have to go through what citizens are saying.
1.4.1 General Objective
To develop an Online Leaders Discussion for Citizen Participation system.
1.4.2 Specific Objectives
1. To review the current systems with a view of specifying the requirements for Online Leaders Discussion for Citizen Participation system.
2. To develop a prototype for the Online Leaders Discussion for Citizen Participation system.
3. To test and review the functionality and usability.
1.5 Research Questions
1. What are the current applications used for discussions where citizens and their leaders can participate?
2. Can the use of Online Leaders Discussion for Citizen Participation system improve how citizens will get their questions answered by leaders?
3. Can this application add value to the users in terms of its efficiency, and reliability?
Through the use of this mobile application citizens will have an opportunity to actively participate in decision making with their leaders who will have greater positive impact on their communities when they increase the frequency, diversity, and level of engagement of their communities.
This study focuses on the development of Online Leaders Discussion for Citizen Participation mobile application that will be used by citizens and their leaders. The users will only access all these services by first creating an account and sign in to the system. Citizens will be able write and post their comments to the discussion forum and the leaders will have to write and reply to the comments posted by citizens.
1.8 Target Users
This Online Leaders Discussion for Citizen Participation mobile application will be targeting citizens and their leaders. This mobile application is meant to revolutionize how citizens participate in the process of making decisions that affect their daily lives and narrow the gaps between citizens and their leaders in matters leadership and development.
The application will only target only mobiles users on android platforms for smart phones and tablets. The application will not support android mobiles users whose phones use different platforms like iOS and Windows phone. Given the minimal time available for the project development, this time is not enough not develop the project that will support mobiles users using on iOS and Windows phone platforms. Not all people use android mobile phones; some use windows phone mobile while others use iOS.
This chapter summaries the information from other researchers who have carried out their research in the same field of study. The specific areas covered here are the theoretical framework conceptual framework.
2.2 Theoretical review
Figure 2 Theoretical review
Specification of the requirements by use of prototypes and charting which can be send to specific users so that they can respond, interactive user interface, discussion process and system functionality and usability affect the operation of the Online Leaders Discussion for Citizen Participation in achieving the intended goals.
2.3 System review
2.3.1 The Farming Forum
Figure 3 The Farming Forum Screenshot Android Client Application
The Farming Forum is an informal, friendly discussion group mobile application for talking about anything to do with agriculture & related industries developed in the UK. Users can register for free and be able to access a wealth of knowledge available. The Farming Forum mobile application allows farmers go get full access to the discussion forum from a mobile device, with an intuitive interface designed to work over a mobile internet connection. The Farming Forum also provides users with a web where they can login and joint the discussion forum.
Technology used in the system
The UK farm also provide a web interface that has the same functionality as the mobile application for discussion as shown below.
Figure 4 The Farming Forum Screenshot Web interface Software
2.3.2 Jamii Forums
Figure 5 Jamii Forums Screenshot Android client application
Jamii Forums is a 'User Generated Content' site; anyone can register and comment or start a new topic using the web interface. The Jamii Forums also provides a mobile android application called Jamii Forums, to access JamiiForums.com forums directly from their android device and by doing so they can be able to do the following activities: send and receive PM's, access and post to the most recent discussions, read and post to Jamii Forums, view Jamii Forums profiles, LIKE posts, upload images, audio, videos etc., share files privately and finally they will able to customize their mobile account anywhere, anytime.
Technology used in the system
Figure 6 Jamii Forums
Figure 7 Sailboat Screenshot Android client application
SailboatOwners.com has been a leading resource for sailors and sailboat owners since 1997. They feature separate forums for each major sailboat brand including Hunter, Catalina, MacGregor, O'Day, and Beneteau sailboats plus dozens more. Also they provide expert advice from top marine professionals from their Guest Expert Forums. So users using their android devices can now get full access to the forums from anywhere, like their dock, cockpit, even their engine compartment. Users can post new topics, comment on current discussions, upload photos, check private messages, modify their profile, and much more. Use their existing login from the web site or register in a few seconds. And immediately start sharing knowledge, or getting help from other owners. SailboatOwners also has a mobile application users can also login directly use their mobile phones to participate in the discussion forum.
Technology used in the system
The system uses PHP and MYSQL for the back end server side and android for the front end client side.
2.3.4 Parallax Forum
Figure 8 Parallax Forum
Source [http:// http://forums.parallax.com/]
This is a discussion forum where members frequently discuss projects, programming, and products designed around the BASIC Stamp and Propeller Chip. Before 2004, the Parallax product user support forum was hosted in Yahoo! Discussion Groups. In 2004, this discussion group was moved from Yahoo! to Parallax Forums, located through Parallax's website. Also, students can use the forums as a place to ask questions and receive direction to solve homework and projects.
Technology used in the system
2.3.5 Prince Fans Discussion Board
Figure 9 Prince Fans Discussion Board
Prince Fans Discussion Board (pfdb) is a system where users can discuss about their favorite Superstar, their style, charisma, movies, box office showdowns, future projects and just chill out with other fans of the Superstar.
The application has the following features, Official Mahesh Babu Tweets - Stay abreast of Superstar Prince Mahesh’s tweets. Mahesh Babu Fan Club Tweets - Stay abreast of Superstar Prince Mahesh’s fan club tweets. Official Prince Mahesh website - all latest information on Mahesh’s films, events, shootings, charities, upcoming projects, interviews, videos, songs, downloads, box office numbers.
Technology used in the system
The system uses PHP and MYSQL for the back end server side and android for the front end client side.
2.3 Critique of the existing literature
From the existing sources literature, there is a clear indication that the existing applications and systems have got some limitations in that in some applications like Whatsapp and Facebook, for one to participate in a group discussion forum, then he or she will have to a member of that particular group and therefore the only users with the write and read rights are only those that are members for the group.
Moreover, for one to be a member of a particular discussion forum group, then he or she will have to be invited into joining the group so that the new users can be added to become members of the group with read and write rights.
2.4 Research gaps
For most of the relevant literature reviewed talks about users can login into the forum systems via the web interface. The literature also generalizes android mobile application and the web interface systems for discussion forum, and not differentiating the needs of using only the system on mobile devices. Thus fail to come up with systems relevant to the needs of users.
The study contacted on the relevant existing literature has led to the conclusion that according to the existing systems, clients need the system which is user friendly, easy to use in terms of its functionality and usability, readily available and meets their needs.
SYSTEM ANALYSIS AND DESIGN
I will use Rapid Application Development (RAD) methodology for the development of the software system because it allows development of the system with minimal time. It also enhance deployment of different versions of the system developed sequentially with improved functionality as the users provide additional needs.
3.2 Rapid Application Development
Figure 10 Rapid Application Development
Rapid Application Development (RAD) methodology to be used during the development process because it usually promotes strong collaborative atmosphere and dynamic gathering of requirements. This methodology enables active participation in prototyping, writing test cases and performing unit testing.
184.108.40.206 Requirements planning phase
It combines elements of the system planning and systems analysis phases of the Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC). Users, managers, and IT staff members discuss and agree on business needs, project scope, constraints, and system requirements. It ends when the team agrees on the key issues and obtains management authorization to continue.
220.127.116.11 User design phase
The users interact with systems analysts and develop models and prototypes that represent all system processes, inputs, and outputs. The RAD groups or subgroups typically use a combination of Joint Application Development (JAD) techniques and CASE tools to translate user needs into working models. User Design is a continuous interactive process that allows users to understand, modify, and eventually approve a working model of the system that meets their needs.
18.104.22.168 Construction phase
This phase focuses on program and application development task similar to the SDLC. In RAD, however, users continue to participate and can still suggest changes or improvements as actual screens or reports are developed. Its tasks are programming and application development, coding, unit-integration and system testing.
22.214.171.124 Cutover phase
This phase resembles the final tasks in the SDLC implementation phase, including data conversion, testing, changeover to the new system, and user training. Compared with traditional methods, the entire process is compressed. As a result, the new system is built, delivered, and placed in operation much sooner.
3.3 Overview of Rapid Application Development methodology
I will use this method to break the requirements into a series of versions, based on which several versions of system will be built sequentially, being the most fundamental and important functions bundled in the first version. Sequentially here means that the next version development will begin only after the preceding version has been approved and implemented. Each version will have its own Analysis-Design-Implementation phases (in a smaller scale compared to the overall system). All of these versions will later be tailored to form a complete system that meets the requirements. I will use this method because it delivers useful system very quickly to users, though it doesn’t cover all functions just yet.
3.4 Requirements elicitation
3.4.1 Data Collection Methods and Techniques
I will use the following techniques to know how my clients will want the system look like.
1. Online questionnaires:
According to McMillan & Schumacher, 2001, a questionnaire is a set of questions or statements that assesses attitudes, opinions, beliefs, and biographical information. The study will use questionnaires because of their economy and are easy to score. These questionnaires will be send to the respondent via email so that they will fill the questionnaires then they send back.
The questionnaires will be used to collect opinions of the Online Leaders Discussion for Citizen Participation system. The questionnaire will be divided into two parts i.e. the personal information and the quality of services offered by mobile applications such like Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter that people can use to share or exchange understandings, viewpoints, comments, or critiques of a certain task or solving problems.
The internet will be a very resourceful source in providing information on different implementations of similar solution to the mobile discussion forum. It will also provide information on what other researchers have come up with in the same field.
2 Online interviews
Interview is another method of fact-finding to get information during the system analysis phases to develop the system because the system will develop based on the user requirement. Interviews provide a better and faster response compared with other fact-finding methods because can direct get the information from the user so as to know what the requirements from the user are. Hence want to get the first hand and more accurate information regarding the system. These are some of the questions post via internet platform to enhance gathering of information. The online interviews will be contacted using skype or Google Hangouts to reach the respondent.
3.5 Data analysis Methods and Techniques
The study will include both qualitative and quantitative data that will be collected in the field. Thus, qualitative and quantitative data analysis will be employed in the study, using the variables. Also, cross tabulation and bivariate procedures will be used in the analysis of the data collected.
Quantitative analysis will be done through Excel and SPSS computer program system. These data will be presented in the form of graphs and tables. In order to establish a convenient comparative tool, percentage rates will also be used to present data.
The qualitative data will be analyzed during the research process. There will be some questions formulated by the researcher on observation while some important themes will be noted throughout the research process. In this process, as the research will be progressing, some questions may be discarded and others may be formulated to suit the study objectives.
3.6 Logical design and Physical design
3.6.1 Activity diagram
Figure 11 Activity Diagram
3.6.2 Use case diagram
Figure 12 Use Case Diagram
3.6.3 Class diagram
Figure 13 Class Diagram
3.8 System requirement specification
3.8.1 Functional Requirements
Functional requirements define the specific functions that the system performs, along with the data operated on by the functions. The functional requirements are presented in scenarios that depict an operational system from the perspective of its end users. Included are one or more examples of all system features and an enumeration of all the specific requirements associated with these features.
The application shall incorporate mechanism to register its users.
The application shall incorporate mechanism where registered users will have to login.
The application shall incorporate mechanism where logged in users will be able to logout whenever they need to.
The application shall incorporate mechanism where registered users will be able to send password reset request whenever they forget their passwords and also reset their email.
3.8.2 Non-Functional Requirement
Non-functional requirements address aspects of the system other than the specific functions it performs. These aspects include system performance, costs, and such general system characteristics as reliability, security, and portability. The non-functional requirements also address aspects of the system development process and operational personnel. It includes the following:
The application shall be user friendly and consistent.
The application shall provide attractive graphical interface for the user.
APPENDIX A: Budget
Table 1 Budget
PROJECT EXPENSES AMOUNT
Smartphone 10, 500.00
Laptop /Desktop 30,000.00
Internet services 4,000.00
Miscellaneous expenses 1,000.00
Flash disk 1,000.00
Total expense 50,000.00
APPENDIX B: Project plan
Table 2 Project plan
Task Name Duration in weeks
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Research & project planning
Proposal writing and submission
Implementation and debugging
APPENDIX C: Hardware Requirements
Table 3 Hardware Requirements
Development Tool Description
Laptop/desktop computer To be used to in the development process.
Printer For printing the documentation of the system
Smartphone For the testing the system responsiveness
Flash disk 4GB For files backup
APPENDIX D: Software Requirements
Table 4 Software Requirements
Development Tool Description
Microsoft word 2013 For producing the documentation of the project
Edraw Max For designing the diagrams of the system
Jet Brains PhpStorm 10.0.1 For PHP MYSQL
Android Studio version 1.5 Development IDE
Xampp/Wamp For local database hosting
Firebase Remote database for real time mobile apps
APPENDIX D: Sample of the Questionnaire
Table 5 Questionnaire sample
Question Response Statistics
1. Have you ever heard of any Mobile forum application?
2. Have you ever use any Mobile forum application?
3. Is there any Mobile forum application in KUESCO Company Limited?
If yes briefly describe how it work. A.Yes
4. Can introduction of Mobile forum application in KUESCO Company Limited improve how members discuss issues?
5. Do you think providing a Mobile forum application is convenience to stakeholders? A.Yes
6. Do you think a Mobile forum application is effective and efficient for members to discuss various issues? A.Yes
7. How likely do you recommend the development of Mobile forum application? A.Excellent
8. What is your position in your company?
C. Subordinate staff
9. Gender? A.Male
10. For how long have you been working in KUESCO Company Limited?
A.1 year and below
D.10 years and above
APPENDIX E: Request for administering questionnaire
HEAD OF ICT DEPARTMENT,
KUESCO COMPANY LIMITED,
P.O.BOX 747, ELDORET, KENYA
RE: REQUEST TO PARTICIPATE IN THE ONLINE QUESTIONNAIRE.
I am a final year student pursuing Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. I would like to request for some of your time in attempt to complete simple online questionnaire concerning methods of conducting discussion forums in your company. The information collected will support my proposal on development of a Mobile forum application which aims at providing a platform for holding discussion in various sectors.
Some of the questions involve asking about the administration, Stakeholder view on current systems and applications like Facebook and others can be used to bring people together for discussion.
I will then use the information to develop a Mobile forum application that will try to bring members together for discussions.
I am looking forward to your participation and involvement of members of your company.
SYSTEM ANALYSIS AND DESIGN
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