Sketch for a municipal-level complaint filing mobile application

January - 26 - 2013

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This quick video sketch / prototype for a municipal complaint filing application was designed as a prompt to think about how we can improve citizen’s participation in municipal level governance.

We felt that the existing MCGM site could be improved, and a website didn’t seem to be the best form for such a mechanism, as not everyone has access to the internet in the city; nor would it be available at hand the location of the complaint. Other methods of filing complaints, such as writing letters to the MCGM, seem archaic given the ubiquity of mobile phones in the country.

So we decided to sketch up a possible mobile solution for the same:

Our thinking behind the sketch:

  • We believe that everyone should have easy access to government services, so we intentionally designed for a text-based interface that one can find on low cost mobile phones.
  • This could be made available in a variety of languages.
  • The application can easily be scaled up to more advanced graphical interface phones based on the same system.
  • We also added the feature of being sent back a complaint ID/number that could be generated automatically on sending the complaint, to give the person a something to “point to” for following up and the authorities to respond to.

We are hoping to dive deeper into systems-level issues related to local municipal governance in the next few weeks. For example:

  • Can such a text based, xml file producing (fully parsable) data be utilised by municipal offices to generate useful analysis visualizations or filing systems that make the administrators’ work easier and less time consuming?
  • How can these new systems be developed to incorporate older, analog ways of working (such as making comments on paper, or, signed approvals along the chain of command)?
  • How can such data generated also be provided to citizens in a transparent and easy to access way?
  • Can municipal administrators or corporators work be incentivised with the help of such data?
  • Can each person have a municipal “profile page” where there is one place to go to with all complaints and correspondence?
  • What are other system-level problems that are keeping the process from functioning smoothly?

We will be meeting with some NGO’s and urban designers next week to think about these and other system level problems, as well an interview with a forward thinking municipal corporator. We very much look forward to learning from these people and deepening our understandings of the problems that plague governance at the municipal level.

Zubin Pastakia

Zubin is an interaction designer working in Mumbai.

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