December 18, 2021 12:34:01 am
SOON, Ahmedabad citizens will witness changes such as bilingual forms, signages at counter markings, online payment modes, guiding videos at the helpdesks and IEC awareness programmes, among others, at the city civic centres as well as municipal corporation’s official website. The changes have been suggested to facilitate citizens to avail services at civic centres in an easy and effective manner.
The changes are a result of 18-week-long research and survey conducted by a group of 20 postgraduate students from CEPT University among 150 citizens in and around eight different types of city civic centres across the city. The students, along with the members at the faculty of management of the Masters in Urban Management programme — Prof Gayatri Doctor, Prof Manish Vadanere and Prof Anup Khajuria — shared the insights during a meeting with AMC senior officials held Tuesday.
“As a part of the service studio (the project), the students tried to identify the gaps at city civic centres and then come up with solutions or suggestions on how to overcome these. Among these, as requested, the immediate ones have been shared with the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) officials,” said Prof Doctor, faculty member and tutor for the studio completed this week and being exhibited at the CEPT University’s Winter Exhibition.
The outcome and suggestions are being studied by the AMC e-governance team. “We are definitely going to take these suggestions forward. The residents will see short-term interventions like signages for layout orientation, IEC improvement, bilingual forms, remove variations in online and offline forms in another 10-15 days, both at civic centres and website,” deputy municipal commissioner Praveen Chaudhary told The Indian Express. “We have also planned to visit CEPT University for another round of meetings with the students and faculty members,” Chaudhary added.
Among the civic centres studied by the students from August till December included Relief Road, Shahpur, Ghatlodiya, Bodakdev, Usmanpura, Maninagar, Dharnidhar and Isanpur, with the Law Garden as the reference point. The period of study also included the months soon after the first and second Covid pandemic waves.
“Post Covid, there was an increase in citizens availing online civic services. However, what came out while interacting with them and studying the functioning of civic centres is that there is barely digital literacy. There are not many civic centres with online payment modes. Also, basic things like signages, helpdesk and counter marking, token systems, etc are missing at these centres. As a result, once a citizen enters the centre, he gets confused as to where to avail of the services. They are moving more than required and waiting for information,” said Kavyashree KR, one of the postgraduate students.
The city civic centres offer 18 different types of services from the filing of taxes like property, professional, vehicle tax, birth and death registration, health licence, hawkers licence, city bus pass, fire NOC application, gym and swimming pool registration, among others.
“Other suggestions include queue management system, adding signages, display boards, token system, CCTV cameras, posters, videos on helpdesk kiosk, helpdesk with a chatbot, a new interface for the website with an integrated web portal for all stakeholders, including citizens, a single portal for all services, a dual-screen interface or monitor on both sides (towards civic centre employee and citizen) to avoid errors at the centre’s end while taking details like name misspelling,” said the first-year postgraduate students Rohith T and Meet Shah.
Another student Akshita Yadav said, “An online database to reduce trips and carry all documents each time a citizen visits the civic centre (has been suggested). Also, we have suggested an SMS or message from the municipal corporation’s end on types of documents required for every service available that would also save trips and time for citizens.”
The project also highlighted issues such as delay because of system failure due to language constraints as 80 per cent of the forms are in Gujarati, need for multiple visits because of lack of documents, and database of the portal in Gujarati that leads to human errors while filling forms.
The students studied civic centres as well as the online services and the mobile app for their project and suggested solutions at each end and agency, including public and private providers — AMC, a private bank offering financial services and TCS for the software support. Case studies of civic centres across states and countries were also undertaken by students during the project.
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