Tele-Panchayat : Rotary Club Feedback


January - 3 - 2013
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Manas presented Tele-Panchayat at the Rotary Club of Milk City, Chalisgaon. Here is the feedback received and some reflections on it.

I presented Tele-Panchayat at the Rotary Club of Milk City, Chalisgaon on 2nd January 2013. It was part of the weekly meeting and there were 20-25 people who attended the presentation. There was a news reporter and two of the council members (Nagarsevaks) and two lawyers present which gave some valuable feedback. As people were new to the field of Interaction Design I started with what I do as an interaction designer and took them through the process for the project and then did the demo using prototype. People did not understand the process but were really interested in the final product.

Below is the condensed video of the feedback received:

Some reflections follow the main observations:

1) Making the results binding for the government giving “real” value to the vote
There are some good things about this and some dangers:
– Currently there are many types of opinion poll carried out in the newspapers or after the news on the TV. But since they do not lead to anything it feels worthless to participate. The true value of registering opinion will come from it leading to some concrete action. So, if the results are made binding, then people will get the seriousness of the system and will truly feel empowered.
– It could be used by the council members from the opposition parties as a tool to fight against the suppression. This type of thing is done in Switzerland and is called as ‘threat of referendum” to put pressure on the ruling party.
– Collective intelligence is not necessarily intelligent. People are able to make bad decisions for themselves collectively, especially in the rural context where educational level and literacy is low.

2) Having multiple entry points instead of the phone being the single point entry.
Instead of asking about water meters in one month then electricity supply in another, these questions could come from those departments in the form people are familiar with to interact with those departments. For example, asking about the change in load shading hours for electricity in the electricity bill which people anyways line up to pay every month.

– People are already in the context of that governmental service while answering the question
– Feedback from appropriate audience is received as people who use electricity and sincerely pay for it are able to have a say in it.
– People are familiar with the form of the interaction.

3) The system is scalable (should be scalable) for different levels. From a feedback about a service to the national level opinion poll

4) The results are immediate
When people see their vote being added to the number they feel satisfied due to the feedback they receive. That satisfaction does not come from just seeing ‘vote registered’ on the display. The number keeps them engaged and they keep checking it to predict where it will lead. At the end of the month the results are already out and there is no waiting time within which people forget about their own vote.
The constantly updating visualisation on the computer screen is not the part of user interaction but we need to look into whether it is a good idea to show the existing status of the results immediately after the vote or not? And in what form that could be conveyed with what level of detail?

5) It should be cost effective where the user (citizen) or the government need not put in money.
People try to get everything for free / cheapest no matter how much value they receive. It could become a barrier on the both sides if either of the parties need to invest money for installation or use of the service.

6) How people could be made aware about the system, the use of it and the interaction?
People clearly do not read the written down instructions on the phone or posters.

Manas Karambelkar

Manas is a recent graduate of CIID. As an Interaction Designer he is sensitive towards technology and social trends. He tries to derive greater value from existing technologies and systems as well as envisions a tomorrow which is socially responsible. He is interested in developing platforms and systems which go beyond a single purpose and can evolve in various directions through user interaction and involvement. Currently he is working as a research associate and an interaction designer for Frugal Digital on developing a platform to gather public opinion in Indian context through minimal technology and existing infrastructure.

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