Social media bears general complaints and frustration of the City's citizens on civic issues, often ending as ephemeral venting. But there are people, solo and as community, who have reached out to civic bodies online to resolve their problems.
It has taken one complaint by Gaurav Pruthi on Ichangemycity.com, 19 backers and two months of strong interaction between the platform and Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to get the 27th main road to Somasundarapalya, HSR Layout Extension, asphalted.
Here, Ichangemycity.com acts as an online mediator between the authority concerned and citizens.
Once the user registers a complaint, a community is built around it and discussions ensue on the forum to 'vote up' the issue for faster redressal.
The problem is given a ticket number and the details of the person the civic body has appointed to solve it are also given.
Elaborating, Sylvia Veeraraghavan, coordinator for JanaOnline, says, “We have a point of contact with BWSSB (Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board), BBMP, Fire Department, Bescom (Bangalore Electricity Supply Company ), BMTC (Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation), etc.
Sometimes we have a direct access to their grievance redressal system, into which complaints go.
Ten thousand complaints have been registered with us, of which 50 per cent have been successfully tackled. Soon to watch out for is the BMTC’s launch of an end-to-end system to answer users’ transportation questions; it should be in place within a month.”
Social media directs most of the users to land on this website, where they can, in length, post their problems.
“How-to queries are answered more there,” adds Venkatesh K, head of the initiative’s online operations.
For Ravikumar, an entrepreneur in water and waste management, “social media is the power to galvanise the nonchalant officials towards solving setbacks, because they are out in the open and builds pressure on them. It is also important to try and have cordial tones with the authorities.”
After failed attempts to personally meet them to solve a water leakage issue of two years near Gowdanpalya, in Padmanabhanagar, he took it up on Facebook first, and with enough awareness got response from authorities concerned.
A simple valve fixture ended the problem and he presented them a ‘thank you’ note.
In ties with the BWSSB, another initiative called the NextDrop.org, according to its website, will soon dispense information to Bangaloreans about the timings of water supply, or the lack of it, through SMSes.
But its growing followers on Twitter and Facebook accounts ensure awareness about it. It has a successful run in the twin cities of Hubli-Dharwad, informing over 75,000 people about the region’s water distribution.
In keeping up with the digital times, in contrast with light-themed memes and gifs, tweets and likes, there seems to be space for the growing advocacy of serious civic responsibility on social media.