If you spot a civic problem, toss it on the local political “neta’s” court through a mobile application. After the issue is resolved, get a reply confirming it. A free mobile app, NetaG, allows people to report problems — garbage, a street light not working, a drain overflowing drain or a water pipeline that leaks or any such issue — to political leader concerned. As many as 30 local politicians including six corporators of Pune are using the app to get connected to the public and learn more about problems they face. The app assures senders, called “issue owners”, of anonymity.
About 20 days ago, a Pimpri resident brought to the notice of sitting corporator of Pimpri Sameer Masulkar, an independent member from Masulkar Ward in Pimpri, about a dug-up road causing a traffic congestion and inconveniencing commuters. Within 18 days, the issue was resolved and Masulkar sent a photo of the road built on the affected patch to the “issue owner”, as they are referred to in the app.
Political leaders and activists using NetaG include Geeta Mancharkar (Indian National Congress, Gandhinagar Ward), Ganesh Jadhav (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena party member), Ajay Patade (Bharatiya Janata Party member), Savita Salunke (Nationalist Congress Party, Morwadi Ward), Vaishali Ghodekar (Ex-mayor and independent candidate), Sujata Palande (Nationalist Congress Party, Sant Tukaram Nagar Ward), Vaishali Kothasthane (Nationalist Congress Party, Kalbhornagar ward) and Narendra Basode (Indian National Congress, Masulkar/Morwadi ward), among others.
“The mission of the app is to create transparency and accountability and improve communication among the public, local politicians, social workers and government officials. This helps politicians to plan and prioritize their work, manage party members and audit performance of the party as well as individuals. At the same time, it helps them promote their genuine work,” says city-based Krushnaal Pai, who developed the app about six months back. Over the last few months, he further worked on the app to make it more stable and user-friendly. On December 15, he launched the improved version. While the total users were 230 before its second launch, in the last 23 days, it crossed 400.
Masulkar, who downloaded the app about three weeks ago, said, “The app is not only good for politicians but also the public who want to alert government officials about problems they come across without facing hassles. Efficient use of the app by citizens as well as officials can have a positive impact on the city.” Masulkar added that he has recommended the app to all his friends and colleagues.
“To make NetaG safe for public, the profile of a common citizen is kept anonymous, which means nobody can find out who you are, what you do or where you live. Once you post the issue on the app along with problem spot, the app automatically identifies the local politicians and workers of the area and notifies them,” says Pai, who did his computer engineering from MIT, Alandi. Recently, having identified the potential of Pai’s mobile startup, Facebook passed on $20,000 worth free services and tools from Facebook, Parse and
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Though only one issue has been resolved so far, 37 “issue owners” have posted problems related to street lights, garbage, traffic, water shortage and so on. “Even if a particular politician is solving an issue, the notification that it has been solved, goes to all politicians working in that area. It will motivate them to work harder to be in the good books of the public,” says Pai, admitting that although initially he thought that politicians will be indifferent to the app, they turned out to be quite enthusiastic about it.