A 4-year Old App That’s Now Helping Fight Covid-19 In India

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The Bangalore-based NGO over the years started a non-profit app called IChangeMyCity (ICMYC), which seeks to promote social change, enables residents to report problems, from streets in need of repair to trash pickups, and further helps the public to determine if and when something has been done to address the problem.

The app gained so much momentum that caught the eye of the government, which asked Janaagraha to create the Swachhata app, helping implement Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s clean India mission.

“We partnered with the MoHUA (ministry of housing and urban affairs) on the Swacchata app by customizing the existing IchangeMyCity app in 2016. Since then, it now runs in 3,800 cities in India with 19 million users. Over 40 million complaints have been filed using the platform so far with 90 percent resolution rate,” Sapna Karim, Head of Civic Participation at Janaagraha.

Right from its inception, Karim says, it was realized that technology for communication with citizens and for assimilating and analyzing data was of extreme importance in making decisions and creating platforms for citizens to engage.

Swachchta app to Covid-19

Once Covid-19 hit India back in March, Janaagraha decided to repurpose the Swachchta app to fight the pandemic.

“Within a week, we customized the app to add nine new categories and sent them to various states. Since the mode of complaints was similar, we didn’t require to do any fresh coding. All we did was to add new features to fight Covid-19,” Karim said.

The new features now allow the citizen to request fogging sanitation in their area, report issues related to waste pickup in the quarantine areas, or even lack of food in quarantine areas. The app also allows you to report any suspected cases of Covid-19 in your area.

All complaints are geo-tagged so that the government officials or health workers can easily locate the area where the problems are located.

“The reporting works as a two-way system, which means once you file a complaint, a resolution officer will be assigned to it and the user gets updated on the status of the complaint, putting the officers directly accountable,” Karim explained.

The customized app with Covid-19 features is now available in 489 cities across the country as more states and cities look at adopting it.

“So far, we’ve seen Chattisgarh and Bihar adopting it very aggressively with over 90% resolution of complaints. Police department resolves a large part of these complaints. The Chattisgarh government has also started a call center to register complaints and all complaints come into the same dashboard to allow everyone to see how many complaints are filed in their city and how they are getting resolved.

The call center gives a larger part of society access to the same system without the use of an app.

Karim believes while the Aarogya Setu app is an important government initiative for Covid-19 contact tracing, the Swachchta app takes the fight to the next level and helps eliminate all problems in tackling the pandemic.

“We hope the Swachchta app is also adopted at a larger scale the way Aarogya Setu app is, and help us fight Covid-19 pandemic using technology,” Karim said.

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