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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Soon, you can go online to plug leaks, clear garbage Mumbaikars Can Post, Monitor Pics Of Sewage, Broken Pipes On BMC Site

 Taking cues from civic bodies of developed nations, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Cor poration (BMC) has gone full throttle on the hi-tech path. After putting in place a successful pothole-tracking system, the BMC now plans to launch an integrated tracking system for four essential services: Water supply, storm-water drains, sewerage operations and solid waste management. This will be a big leap for the civic body which has been severely criticized for its poor services, especially contractors' inefficiency. 

    TOI has learnt that this system's objective is to involve citizens in tracking services that often go unmonitored in spite of complaints. This system will be very similar to the one used by the roads department and allow citizens to click pictures and apprise civic officials of any shortcomings. 
    Confirming the development, Rajiv Jalota, additional municipal commissioner, told TOI, "We plan to launch an integrated tracking system to monitor the services that we deliver. It would allow citizens to participate in the civic process and help improve it. The complaints mechanism will be overhauled and enable us to monitor it in a systematic manner." 
    It will be very similar to the website used by the roads departmentvoiceofcitizen.com—and enable citizens to click pictures of leaking pipelines or sources of contaminated water and apprise civic officials about these. The civic body has selected the four departments as they are used by citizens on a daily basis. As far as water supply is concerned, the system will cater to complaints on leaking pipelines, sources of contaminated water and water pressure. In case of solid waste management, the plan is to geo-tag all collection points. The 
civic body's solid waste management department will be entrusted with the job of clicking pictures of collection points. This will help the civic headquarters keep a close check on the collection process and identify spots that might be left out. 
    In all cases, the pictures will be uploaded to a central server and a monitoring team will be set up. It will be responsible for ensuring that complaints are looked into. As in the case 
of the pothole-tracking system, citizens would be allowed to click pictures of uncollected garbage and leaking pipelines with Android cellphones and upload them online. 
    The civic body is already in consultation with several software developers and is likely to float tenders in the coming days. 
    Sources suggest that the integrated tracking system is likely to be rolled out in three months. 

What to expect of the new system 

    The integrated tracking system for water supply, storm-water drains, sewarage and solid waste management will function on the lines of the potholetracking system 
    An aware citizen will have to click a picture of the affected area and the software will automatically geo-tag the picture and store it in the system 

    The system will notify the concerned department and officials will close the problem within a stipulated time period 
    Statistics on the number of problems, those solved and pending will also be made available on the website. For example, citizens could upload photos of a leaking pipeline. Once officials are notified, they will begin work on fixing it 

The project has reached the tendering stage and the BMC has consulted experts from IIT for a feasibility study. Currently, the civic body is deciding on a name for the project that will reflect the city's individuality and character 

Times View: Solve the problem after tracking it 
Getting citizens to track problems is no doubt a well-intentioned idea. Involving citizens in civic issues gives them a sense of participation and also acts as a daily (or weekly) civic audit. But tracking problems is merely the first step in eradicating them. What the BMC needs to do is put in place a system that will solve the problem highlighted (or "tracked") by a citizen; lack of results can lead to citizen apathy and the gradual death of a good idea.


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