Now, Apps To Report Civic Issues; Corporations Come Closer To Technology
Municipal corporations across the country have realised the power of technology when it comes to tackling civic problems. Whether it is GIS-based Property Management system or new systems to monitor vehicular traffic and pollution, e-governance using information and communication technology (ICT) is the way forward for many Indian states. In fact, civic technology, especially involving use of mobile applications and other software, is bridging the crucial gap between the people and government across the globe.
Here’s a look at how corporations are making the best use of technology for resolving the major issues plaguing Indian cities.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) recently became the first municipal corporation to use space technology to address issues such as encroachment of lakes, illegal dumping of garbage, pothole menace, etc. by liaising with ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation). In 2016, BBMP had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the space organisation which will provide satellite data and pictures to track violations of BBMP laws in property construction, assessment of property dimensions or encroachment of government land.
Furthermore, the civic authority has taken a decision to hire robotic excavators for cleaning stormwater drain (SWD) networks in the city which will provide relief from clogged drains and overflowing sewage for areas in south Bengaluru during heavy downpour.
Envisaged to improve the civic services as well as enhance citizens’ engagement, a mobile application was introduced in January 2018 by the three municipal corporations of Delhi. The app would enable users to find locations of public toilets nearby, police stations, metro stations, petrol pumps, parking, bus stands, markets, hospitals, veterinary clinics, libraries, gyms, etc. as well as contact emergency departments. Although, the response was initially poor as the number of people who downloaded the app were just a few hundreds, the intent is clear - that of encouraging the citizens to raise concerns by providing geo-tagged photos and report cases of waterlogging, mosquito breeding, encroachments, illegal construction, through the latest features.
The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) plans to award the project to Civic Solutions Pvt. Ltd. for three years at a total cost of Rs 1.70 crore. The SDMC has already launched two applications - a vehicle parking mobile application to facilitate booking of slots in advance and 'Swachhta MoUHA App,' to register complaints on filthy toilets or dirty roads.
Navjot Singh Sidhu, the current minister of local government of Punjab, is planning to introduce e-governance across the 167 urban local bodies in the state. The plan also includes the launch of a public grievances app to enable citizens to register complaints on prevailing civic issues, thus driving efficiency and transparency on the part of the municipal authorities. In February 2018, the government signed an MoU with eGovernments Foundation, co-founded by Nandan Nilekani.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has launched an e-governance app, MCGM 24X7, to let residents register complaints about potholed roads. The response although weak, is one of the initial efforts for delivering concrete solutions to civic issues in the city.
The BMC is launching e-toilets, with one recently built at Marine Drive promenade, aimed to facilitate solid waste management and meet the objectives of the Swachh Bharat Mission. Sponsored by Lions Club, the e-toilets are unmanned, with flushing system based on sensor technology and doors designed to open when Rs 5 coin is inserted.
The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation will be developing nine e-governance applications in the next three years, for which it is hiring software support engineers. The applications will pertain to diverse areas including solid waste management and basic services for the urban poor.
To promote citizen participation and transparency, the e-Governments Foundation for the government of Andhra Pradesh has come up with the country’s first fully integrated Citizen and Employee Mobile App called PuraSeva. The move also focuses its attention to tackle staff crunch as municipal employees will soon have digital tools to resolve complaints. The app helps citizens to express grievances, provide suggestions and receive automatic updates as well as facilitate map roles for redressal and tags citizen submissions with an SLA (Service Level Agreement).
In January 2018, the city corporation launched a mobile application, Namma Chennai, using which residents can raise civic complaints and upload photos but also get instant updates on their complaint statuses and other information. Moreover, the app users can access statistics like number and types of complaints raised from a zone. The municipal administration also launched a website for Chennai Smart City Limited, the special purpose vehicle which is overseeing the smart cities project implementation.