Recognising the need for an efficient service delivery system to support the expansion of smart facilities across the city, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC), Odisha, has been actively undertaking various IT-related initiatives. The utility has set up a dedicated project management unit, IT-PMU, to develop an integrated framework for e-governance by leveraging information and communications technology. IT-PMU aims to streamline, improve and strengthen BMC’s operations.
A recent initiative by IT-PMU is the establishment of a robust and reliable grievance redressal mechanism. Under this initiative, a website – BMC Sampark – and two mobile applications – My City My Pride and BMC M-office – have been launched. The entire grievance redressal process is now carried out through a single-window centralised system with a faster and more effective delivery mechanism.
To begin with, BMC established a 24×7 call centre to address complaints by those consumers who do not have access to internet services. Consumers can directly contact the call centre to lodge their complaints. The call centre provides a ticket number upon successful complaint registration. The complaint registered on this number is then processed, translated and subsequently fed into the computer. It is then forwarded to the officer concerned through an SMS alert. The built-in intelligent system automatically tracks the status of the complaint. This ensures that the registered complaint is addressed within the stipulated time frame.
To close a complaint, the concerned official is required to update the database either through an SMS, email or web response. In case the complaint is not resolved within the stipulated time, it is automatically passed on to the next level in the official hierarchy through an email and SMS.
To expand the coverage of its grievance redressal system further, BMC launched a mobile application, My City My Pride, for addressing complaints related to solid waste and sanitation services. The scope of this application was subsequently expanded to register complaints pertaining to the sewerage system, as well as water and electricity supply issues. The application has been designed by CSM Technologies and can be downloaded either from BMC’s website, Google Play or the iOS store.
After downloading the application, the consumer is required to login either using his/her Facebook profile or registered mobile number. Complaints can be registered by accessing the “post complaint” link which then opens the complaint description page. This provides the option of choosing the category under which the complaint falls. There are four main heads – solid waste management, street light, sewage, water supply and miscellaneous – which are further divided into 25 subcategories.
After choosing one of the available options, the complainant is required to give a detailed description of the problem, the location and a landmark near the location. Not only does the application permit the registration of problems in the area of residence of a citizen, but also allows them to register complaints faced in other areas of the city. The complainant can also post a picture along with a detailed description of the issue being faced. The complaint is automatically transferred to the concerned department and to the next level in the hierarchy if required.
A unique ticket number is given to the consumer, which can be used to track the status of the complaint at any stage of the grievance redressal process, using the “check status” tab in the mobile application.
To ensure greater accountability, the application also has a provision for checking the status of complaints registered in other areas. After a problem is resolved, the consumer is given the details of the concerned official or engineer who has handled the complaint, along with a picture of the resolved issue.
The civic agency has also launched a dedicated grievance redressal application for BMC officials known as BMC M-office. This application has been developed to enable the officials to track the complaints registered. This application has been linked to the My City My Pride application so that each time a complaint is registered the officials get intimated through M-office in real time. The coexistence of these applications allows for faster communication as well as effective and timely redressal of complaints.
The successful adoption of IT and the use of social media have made BMC officials more accountable, leading to greater transparency in operations. The efforts being made by BMC are showing the desired results as is evident from the response at various grievance platforms. BMC’s initiatives to improve civic services have also been recognised by the Skoch Group and received the Skoch Water Award 2015 for initiating online resolution of consumer complaints.
Going forward, these initiatives are expected to improve operational efficiency and service delivery significantly. The successful implementation of these initiatives will serve as an example for other local bodies to help them implement similar initiatives in areas under their jurisdiction.