Technology has always stirred changes in various aspects of human life. Barring a few, municipal corporations in India have not made significant strides in adopting advanced technologies in the field of sanitation, cleaning streets and monitoring sanitation operations. Since Indian governments at all levels are making efforts to improve sanitation standards, applying innovation in sanitation is the preeminent demand of the present time
Innovation and technology adoption in various aspects of sanitation, from cleaning of roads, construction of toilets to the management of waste is a crucial requirement to achieve the objectives of Swachh Bharat Mission and also Sustainable Development Goal
6-ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Information technology and mobile phones have changed the lives of citizens by bringing a lot of changes in our day-to-day lives. From booking tickets online to ordering
groceries, everything can be now done using a mobile. Many municipal corporations in India have launched their applications for providing basic services but the potential of using the technology for improving sanitation and hygiene standards in our cities remains untapped.
The government of India has launched location-based apps for improving sanitation and cleanliness in cities. Citizens can click the picture of a location and geo-tag it. The concerned department will be informed and the area will be cleaned. Such advances
in technology will drive citizen corporation engagement to a new level. These apps can be used to report issues in private and public sanitation facilities, sewerage and drainage networks, the practice of open defecation in urban areas and industries polluting water streams. The scope of their usage is enormous with great benefits. There are many good examples in this available from around the world. SunCleanis a mobile game that was developed by students at the University of Indonesia. It uses games to teach children about waste disposal and hand-washing. The penetration of smartphones in India has also seen a swift rise. Such application for improving hygiene standards can bring about a change. There are hundreds of applications available which enable people to self-report problems in sanitation facilities in schools, public places and even if they can monitor sewage outflows that could affect the water supply to citizens. These technological
tools can build a transparent and accountable system in the area of sanitation. mSewage, mSchool, Taarifa, Toilight, Sanitationmapper are some of the available applications which
haveshown the way. Similarly, Swachh Bharat App is also revolutionizing sanitation practices and the response of citizens and local governments. Anyone can download
this “Clean India App” on their smartphone. When a person sees any waste/garbage dump, he can take a picture using the app and upload it on the Swachh Bharat National Server (Clean India National Server) along with its geo-location, time and date. The server will process the image and grade this waste/garbage dump as Red, Yellow or Green. Red tands for urgent action, Yellow for taking notice and Green to indicate Clean. The server hence places a “Tag” of respective colour on the Google Map (or on ISRO’s HUWAN) at that geo-location. The cleaning agencies also have this app so the person who is responsible to clean that geolocation will also see such Red/Yellow tags on his Smartphone. The cleaning employee hence reaches that Geo-location cleans this place, takes the new picture on his app and uploads it on the server. It will process this new image and will once again grade this waste/garbage dump as Red/Yellow/ Green, depending upon the quality of cleaningat that geo-location.
Digital payment & waste tax
The recovery of the operational cost of the waste collection remained a big challenge for municipalities. The corporations have used various models and have even engaged third parties under Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in the waste collection but only a few succeeded and could encourage people to pay for the service. 100 per cent door-to-door collection of waste still remains a farfetched dream for corporations. The reason being that they are not able to meet the expenses incurred in providing the services. If one visits the length and breadth of the country, citizens everywhere are willing to pay for the services but they demand high-quality undisrupted services. If municipal corporations can provide them with clean streets and public places using the thriving business
model of ‘waste collection’ tax, people are willing to play. When India is marching forward towards digital and mobile payment options, can’t we think of a feasible financial system through which the users can make payment for their waste collection online? The main
problem lies in bringing people into a system and monitoring the same. And, if everyone begins to pay, the overall cost will come down and will also not pinch the pockets of ordinary citizens. Technology can be of assistance in this regard but the key to its success remains-quality of services offered.
When India is marching forward towards digital and mobile payment options, can’t we think of a feasible financial system through which the users can make payment for their waste collection online? The main problem lies in bringing people into a system and monitoring the same. And, if everyone begins to pay, the overall cost will come down and will also not pinch the pockets of ordinary citizens. Technology can be of assistance in this regard but the key to its success remains-quality of services offered
Cutting-age technology for municipalities
Cleaning of streets is as important as any other component of Swachh Bharat Mission because it will add to the aesthetic value of our urban streets. Many cities struggle to manage street litter, and the corporations do not have the resources to send a street
sweeper down every single city street on a daily or weekly basis. Sweeping of streets isa costly and labor-intensive work this means there’s a lot of scope for optimization of resources and implementing innovation. The advent of mechanical sweepers has been beneficial for many big cities. The small versions of the same can be seen at railway stations, malls,and big hospitals. A Singapore-based company SmartCow AI specializes in providing end-to-end AI driven solutions is working to solve the street cleaning problem. Instead of assigning street sweepers to clean streets on a random schedule, its software monitors streets for trash and litter. Once a specific threshold is met, the concerned authorities are informed and they can send the sweepers for cleaning. This can further help in creating a database and analyzing. The frequency of the requirement of cleaning thus creating an optimal schedule of sweeping streets. This will help in the optimal utilization of resources available with our corporations. This means that the corporations need not buy multiple cleaning machines to cover all the areas under its jurisdiction. However, the technology has its own challenges as there are certain locations at public
places and streets which machines could not reach or need human intervention for cleaning. Such challenges can be solved when we start using the technology because everything takes some to evolve to fit in the existing system. The adoption of innovation
will certainly help municipalities in lowering cost and utilizing their human resources in improving the quality of their services.