Governments need public participation, now more than ever. Citizens need a systematic way to communicate issues with their government. We are the bridge. Our aim is to help the governments direct their resources where it is most needed by enabling them to take informed decisions such as issue prioritization and resource allocation.
What it does
The application has two important stakeholders. Citizens & their Government. Citizens use the mobile friendly web application to raise their grievances so that the concerned local authorities who monitor various issues across the region act on them swiftly and efficiently.
We tried to do our best in making the list of issues as exhaustive as possible keeping in mind the principles of master data management. Water/Power Supply concerns, waste management or other public works related grievances, shortage in medical supplies or emergency health care services, food essentials or other household supplies. Be it reporting unlawful activities in the neighborhood or fake news on social media, we have a provision for the user to attach media(images or videos).
Even those grievances associated with the lock down such as plumbing or electrical servicing issues or any household repairs for that matter could be reported to the local authorities. Acting on such issues directly may not be a local governments priority, but it will certainly help governments take informed decisions to provide certain extra facilities in situations where lock down or curfew periods are subject to extension. Citizens support is vital and they may offer resistance or not cooperate if their basic domestic amenities break down.
Citizen's Perspective : a mobile friendly web application
Users has to firstly verify themselves through email or SMS Text Message verification. After the verification, the user will land on a home page in which one can raise an issue or track an existing issue's status by entering an Issue-Id, which is provided to the user at the time of an issue's succesfull submission.
A user can also go through informative links for emergency helpline contacts and checking out the latest updates related to COVID-19 related issues through RSS from W.H.O , Twitter, Our World In Data and other trusted regional sources.
The government will be able to view the issues raised by the government on an interactive dashboard where in local authorities can update the status and priorities of various issues. They can also view various statistics across different slicers of demographic levels such as total active cases across regions or total pending issues across issue categories and sub categories and so on.
Challenges we ran into
We mainly faced challenges with respect to prioritizing which features to build for the prototype and which ones to put off for the near future as part of the project road map .
What we learned
Setting up text/email verification procedure for user authentication.
Using D3 visuals to make the monitoring of the issues' statistics dynamically.
We also learned that simplicity is necessary for scaling which in turn is a challenge during crisis response and an important measure of a solution's potential impact. So it goes with our prototype. We wanted to ensure our simple idea of bridging the communication gap should manifest into something which is easy to scale and our prototype, to be easy to use for a any civilian and to be easy to adopt for any government which believes in our idea.
What's next for Citizens vs COVID19
1. Local Representatives
We believe local representatives will be of great help during crisis response. Many retired military personnel, government employees and other civilian enthusiasts who are well aware of the local system of governance can come in handy and act as extended wing of grass root level administration. With the consent of local governing authorities, we want to have a feature on the user's web application where in one can apply to be the the "Local Ombudsman" | A hero without a cape. Primary duties would be to inform local police, health officials and other concerned authorities with daily reports on local ration stocks, unlawful activities or other grievances with a provision to attach media wherever applicable.
2. Sourcing Issues from various social media platforms
We are aware of the number of concerns being raised in many social media platforms where public officials often respond to the problems. So the idea is to direct all these concerns raised by the people across platforms and consolidate the same to a single monitor for better consumption.
Channeling as many issues as we can using Twitter & WhatsApp API would help ramp up the volume of issues and increases the efficiency of the Issue tracking and handling by virtue of consolidation and consumable insight generation.
3. Issue Resolution Response Time and Resource Allocation User Interface for the governments
Like in any typical customer care support system, a key performance indicator is its resolution response time. Also, understanding the availability of resources across various departments such as health care, food procurement and distribution departments, family welfare etc. can vastly improve the way in which governments allocate their resources for various issues on a priority basis.