IT-backed solutions, such as the recently launched Swachhata App and Swachhata Helpline, can actively associate more people with the Prime Minister’s ambitious cleanliness mission
Since the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October, 2014, there has been a considerable positive upsurge of attitudes towards cleanliness. Technology too is playing a meaningful role in the sense that the resources which helps keep our cities clean, are managed professionally. While IT-backed solutions are emerging as effective tools to expedite routine works, an increasing number of municipal bodies and city administrations are using mobile apps and online tools to address the problems faced by citizens in their day-to-day affairs.
Recently, the Union urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu launched a mobile app called ‘Swachhata App’ and ‘Swachhta Helpline 1969’ to enable citizens associate more and more with Swachh Bharat Mission in urban areas. He said, “The Prime Minister has time and again made it clear that Swachh Bharat Mission cannot succeed if it is looked at as a government programme. He made it clear that this should become a ‘Jan Andolan’. To associate people more and more with this mission, we have launched two initiatives—Swachhata mobile app and Swachhata Helpline”.
In a sign of growing use of technology the minister addressed mayors, municipal chairpersons, municipal commissioners and other concerned officials of 500 cities and towns via video conferencing. A Swachh Survekshan self-assessment tool has also been launched to enable the urban local bodies of these 500 cities and towns to know as to where they stand today in terms of level of sanitation on various parameters.
How can the new solutions launched by the minister help to provide a neat and clean city to the citizens of the country? Government officials inform that for instance, if your municipal sweeper regularly fails to turn up to clear the garbage from your locality or repeated attempt to address the issue has gone in vain, you can now turn to this mobile app for help. All you need to do is click a picture of the garbage dump or overflowing dustbins and post it on the Swachhata app.
According to the government officials, the citizens only need to take a picture of the complaint they see on the ground and post it through the Swachhata app. The posted picture will automatically get forwarded to the concerned municipal authority. All urban local bodies have been mapped to this app and the solution is for all the 4041 towns and cities across India. The app will pinpoint the exact location of the area of the complaint using the geo-location of the pictures.
In order to ensure timely redressal of complaints, the urban development ministry has fixed a time frame for redressing different categories of complaints received through the app. For instance, overflowing dustbins, garbage dumps and sweeping has to done within 12 hours of lodging of a compliant. If there is no water supply or electricity in public toilets or there is a blockage, it will have to be fixed within 12 hours. A dead animal lying on the road will have to be removed within 48 hours. Also, there is a detailed escalation process built in the app so that complaints that are not resolved at the lower level are moved to higher levels for action and resolution.
Most of the municipal corporations have started using the app. In fact, few of them including Surat Municipal Corporation have started giving training to their staff in order to meet the time-line prescribed by the urban
development ministry to resolve the complaints. “We are already on board with the app. This is basically one more medium for citizens to get their civic issues addressed,” Milind Torawane, municipal commissioner, Surat told FE, adding that his corporation already has a mobile app since 2013 aimed at addressing the day-to-day civic issues of citizens.
The flow of the app is so smooth that once a complaint is registered, the complainant will get regular updates on its status. They will get a push notification with the ‘resolved’ image uploaded by the sanitary inspector or engineer when they change the status to resolved. Citizens can reopen the complaint if they are not satisfied with the resolution.
A government official said that the broader goal of the project was to foster large scale citizen participation. This participation may vary from cities to cities depending on the preparedness of it and how the public reacts to the new solutions.