So far, I have received expressions of interest from people in about 25 wards to work on local solutions for civic improvement and better governance. I’ll reach out to each of you individually and see how to help you get going, but meanwhile, here is a list of things to get started with, in thinking about the local area. This is from the work of CiFoS in Sanjay Nagar (thanks, Sathya Sankaran, Subbaiah T.S. and others). Later this week, we’ll organise a small workshop for the first few wards to begin to replicate this work in other areas.
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1 – Events calendar – Create public events around sustainability like cycle day, open streets, environmental fairs, local flavoured arts & crafts melas, etc which include street closures or in public places. Put up the calendar publicly. Stay away from religion based events.
2. Issue reporting – Collect issues transparently from people using a mix of technology and face-to-face meetings. Find time to take up issues with Administration and resolve them by followup. Even if not all even some prioritised ones can should be followed up. This builds connect between citizens and local administration.
3. Data collection – collect data about different utilities in the neighbourhood. Like Bill payment centres, ATMs, Police / fire / hospitals, parks & playgrounds, telephone directory of administrative officials. These are important to have as base data to make informed decisions later. Mapunity has built tech platforms to help collect all this quite easily.
4. Project creation – Nothing will get done in government if it can’t be first turned into a project proposal and put through the necessary processes to get it off the ground. Identify the things that you want done in the area, and figure out which department needs to do what to make this happen. This builds understanding among the public of the process of doing infrastructure projects.
5. Public participation & outreach – Regular weekly meetings open to all where the progress of items are discussed and shared with all. Fix a time and don’t worry about number of people who attend just do it and share with all. This is equivalent of a ward committee but open to all, not to any members alone.
6. Helping public officials – ask the people who work for the government in various departments in your area what help they need. They have never heard this question from the public, and in many cases are quite open to people working with them to make things better. I have found this to be true in many places in the city.