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Technology can be ‘all weather friend’ of city governments

Municipal workforce is today working in a reactive mode to address the problems which are rising in our cities. If municipal authorities want to match the speed of urbanization, they need to adopt advanced technologies to offer solutions to the challenges being thrown at them

Technology has always proved to be the biggest disruptor for many industries. It can break and make sectors. Computers, mobile phones and Internet has been a game changer for several sectors; from finance to mobility, shopping to communication, and what not. Cities in India, at least in the first decade of the 21st century kept themselves away from adopting the technology in governance. The cities, which utilized technological advances, improved their efficiency and quality of services and in turn could become financially sustainable and also livable. However, such examples of success are very rare in India because city governments did not take initiative to implement e-governance or say, did not adequate resources to adapt to the changing governance system world over.
However, this is changing now. The popularity of e-governance is picking up in many small cities and towns of our country. The role of cheap Internet connection and the fast spread of smart phones and computers in every household accelerated the process. This was also mandated under AMRUT Mission of Government of India. But the credit for this will surely go to the easy accessibility of technology among the masses.

Benefits to citizens, ULBs

From citizen’s point of view, one of the major advantages of the adoption of technology in urban management system was more transparency and accountability in the system. Citizens were also able to access urban services with ease via multiple channels such as smart phones, websites and information kiosks at key locations from the comfort of their homes. The launch of web portal and mobile applications of municipal corporations from Delhi, Mumbai, and Kanpur to small towns of Bihar, Maharashtra and several other states proved to be beneficial for citizens. Anyone can access the information from anywhere. Technology is playing an important role in bringing local governments closer to the people.
The benefits were not limited to citizens; municipal governments too could improve their financial management system and efficiency by using technology. The revenue generation was enhanced through increased coverage and collection, and identification of new revenue sources. However, the capacity building of the workforce for implementing technological tools at the micro-level remained a challenge. Now, the situation is gradually changing through focused training programs under different missions of Government of India. Public participation in decision making process has also improved and it is reflected in government programmes.
Reaching out to people has also become easier for the local governments. Using ICT and convergent media, ULBs can seek feedback from the citizens for the services provided and also obtain their suggestions for starting a project. We can also say that the introduction of technology in civic bodies has led to a more informed citizenry. This has also assisted citizens in evaluating the functioning of the local governments and make an informed opinion about them. ULBs are also functioning in a prudent and efficient manner thus creating an accountable, efficient and responsive government.

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