The adoption of new technologies in governance systems at all levelsis bringing positive impact; especially on municipal governance and city management.Advanced technological tools are strengthening citizen-government dialogue, bringing transparency in the system and making local governments more accountable to the citizens. Indian cities are yet to harness the full potential of new technologies and media platforms, and for this, an extensive programme to train the existing municipal workforce is essential
Municipal Corporations are the biggest ‘service provider’ of essential services in cities. The corporations deliver a large number of services that affect people’s lives in many ways. Thousands of people are moving to Indian cities every month and they are adding pressure on existing city systems. The modus operandi of cities have become extraneous because of increasing variety and scale of demands from citizens. Thanks to technological advancements, many processes have become automated and quality monitoring mechanisms have become smoother than ever in many global cities which have adopted new technological tools.
Indian cities are facing double trouble. The foremost problem is that they have not yet implemented the advanced technologies in their systems. And, second, the municipalities those have adopted the new technological tools are not able to utilize them because of non-availability of skilled municipal workforce. Both issues need to be addressed by the central government, technology providers, and training organisations like AIILSG that has been training municipal workforce for last many decades.
Enhance ‘virtual’ interface between citizens and municipalities
All tiers of governments in India are making serious efforts to strengthen e-governance systems for ensuring better quality of services and effective monitoring of grievance redressing. With more people using mobiles and computers, it has become the most cost-effective way to interact with citizens and have real time updates of services rendered by civic authorities. Barring a few major municipal authorities in the country, a majority of them have not updated their city management systems in sync with changing trends
in technology. Smart Cities Mission of Government of India has a provision of embedding technologically advanced tools in the system for smooth operation of city operations.
There are multiple benefits of using new media and technologies. New technologies and social media have transformed the way government and the citizens interact. They are ensuring active participation of citizens in public affairs, close collaboration between public services and between government and citizens. Citizens are now able to report problems and request services from local governments through social media, website and mobile applications.
New internet-based inventions are redefining the power of a citizen in the 21stcentury. Thanks to this digital transformation, decision-making is increasingly becoming more collaborative; even the government budget is more transparent and their data open for the outside world for utilising for public good.
The new generation has been amazingly brilliant at using new networks and technologies to organize protests that were able to effectively implement agendas, roll back legislations, and even overthrow authoritarian governments in different parts of the world. Why the same technology can’t be used for collaboration and other meaningful discussions at a large scale.
Indian cities are facing double trouble that they have not yet implemented the advanced technologies in their systems. And, second, the municipalities those have adopted the new technological tools are not able to utilize them because of non-availability of skilled municipal workforce
Power of People
People have become pessimist about any drastic transformation in the system from politics. Many people have given up on governments and a majority of people think nothing will change in our cities. The corporation will work in an old-fashioned style where people had to wait for days to get a certificate. This was the system in the times when municipal corporations did not have sufficient staff or were rooted in corruption but technology has made things easier for the common man. People can get their essential certificates online and can also track the status of their complaints on their computers or mobiles. This has not happened in every city of the country. But, this is a beginning.
Many cities across the globe are engaging their citizens in solving the problems of their cities by opening up data for them. Technology is making it possible by engaging citizens. Politics in cities may remain the same but the governance is changing. Fundamentally, technology is reframing the functioning of government in a way that can actually scale by strengthening civil society. And there’s a generation that’s grown up on the Internet, and they know that it’s not that hard to do things together, we just have to build the systems the right way.
Many cities in India have also started using technology for providing efficient services to their citizens. Pune, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai and many big cities have their web and app presence but some other small cities are still struggling to streamline their online activities and mechanisms. The training of existing workforce and exposure to better options of managing urban operations is essential for every city. And, this can be done by including some new training modules in existing training calendar of the municipal corporations and urban development departments of various states.