Haseen Ahmed who lives at Parade Chowk in Kanpur, had been running from pillar to post in government offices to register complaints about frequent digging of roads and improper sanitation and garbage disposal in his area since last one year without any success. One of his acquaintances suggested to him to file the complaint through social media site Facebook. He was surprised to get a complaint number instantly, followed by swift action within three days. “I filed the complaint through MyCity-Kanpur Facebook page and got the complaint number instantly and within three days, there was action on the ground. I never thought that an online system could be effective in a place like Kanpur,” said Ahmed.
‘MyCity—Mera Shahar Meri Dekh Rekh Me’, a social media-based grievances redressal system to address the basic citizen centric issues, launched by the district administration of Kanpur in July 2014 has ensured quick disposal of reasonable grievances and has also established a public evaluation system of civic utilities. According to district informatics officer (DIO), Kanpur, SK Bajpai, about 4,000 complaints have been received since the launched of
social media page.
Basically, the district administration with the help of National Informatics Centre (NIC) has developed a management information system (MIS) application which has been integrated to Facebook page as an app. With the help of this app, citizens are able to lodge a complaint quite easily. The app allows one to express views, upload related photographs or documents and interestingly, a complainant can also provide feedback on the final outcome of the grievances, whether he is satisfied or not.
Presently, eight major civic amenities—sanitation & garbage disposal, electricity, streetlights, water supply & sewerage, traffic, roads construction, digging of roads, encroachment—are part of the social media-based grievances redressal system; according to officials, more amenities are likely to be added very soon. For every sector, nodal officers from concerned departments have been nominated and they are responsible to reply to the complaints received on their sectors. District administration monitors the overall redressal process and issues
instructions whenever needed.
“As soon as a complaint is lodged using the app, an SMS alert stating the complaint number is sent to the complainant and to the concerned departmental nodal officer. The nodal officer is responsible for redressal of this complaint. The officer can take appropriate action using the administrative module, separately developed for this purpose. The action taken history is available and visible to the complainant as well as to the MyCity admin (District administration),” district magistrate, Kanpur, Roshan Jacob told FE.
The good thing about this project is that it uses a hybrid platform— social media & MIS. Being on a social media platform, a complainant need not create a new user name on this application; existing Facebook credentials are used for authentication purpose. At the same time, with the help of MIS application, information is stored in discrete format in a database, which enables the system to generate various types of reports depending on requirements such as status of total pendency against different officer and number of unattended complaints etc.
“We noticed that there was a large number of written complaints related to encroachment, so we included it in our online module and that has led to substantial number of written complaints going down across different civic bodies in the Kanpur City area,” said Jacob.
On the question of how different is this initiative from what other districts are doing across the country, she said, “Being different is not important, but it is crucial to solve the day to day issues of the people.”
More than anything else, this project has opened a direct line of communication between the public and concerned government authority.