Participation of citizens and citizen action is a key tenet of democratic governance. Participation or citizen action develops ownerships, which is crucial for success of any government initiate. However, direct participation or action of citizens in government programs and civic activities poses many operational challenges, particularly in terms of efficacy and cost of participation. The digital media, specifically the mobile apps, provide an effective media for direct participation of citizens in the democratic governance process.
‘Action Udaipur’ is a mobile application developed for participation of citizens in the government interventions. The application has seven major features: Jan Bhagidari (citizens’ participation), Civic Complaint (grievance redressal), Stay Fit, Go Organic, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Smart City and Start-up Udaipur.
Initially, the app was developed to encourage citizens in maintaining cleanliness and provide a platform for participation in cleanliness activities, but gradually other features were added. The app was used extensively for seeking participation of citizens in the Smart City mission processes. The app is freely used by citizens for various purposes.
In ‘Jan Bhagidari’, one can seek participation of citizens in cleanliness activates or remodeling of walls, and from the same feature, the requisite approval from the authorities are sought and received. Additionally, support for small items such as colors, tools, etc. can be requested and obtained from the concerned authorities.
Similarly, one can lodge a complaint by writing and uploading photographs using the ‘Civic Complaint’ feature. The complaint reaches the concerned authority with GPS locations of the site. After resolution, a telephonic verification is done to check whether complaint has been resolved to the satisfaction.
Cycling and yoga campaigns can be planned and organized from the ‘Stay Fit’ feature. Private corporations can participate in welfare activates through the ‘CSR’ feature.
More than 7,000 citizens are using ‘Action Udaipur’. The use of ‘Action Udaipur’ has benefited the city in many ways. In public consultation for Smart City, this application played a crucial role to reach out to these 7,000 users and another 8,500 Facebook followers. Around 246 places (like public gardens, public toilets, footpaths, etc.) have been remodeled with citizen participation. About 5,705 complaints have been received (through app use) from the citizens out of which 5,120 complaints have been resolved with a 90 per cent satisfaction level. Through this, citizen’s action campaigns have been facilitated – distribution of sweaters for government school children (about 26,000), distribution of school bags and stationery to needy children (about 8,00), distribution of toys for tiny tots in government ICDS centers (about 5,000). Three cycle banks have been created around lakes, wherein citizens have donated cycles.