ECOLOGIC: Be the change you want to see

28-Feb-2019: Pavitra Sriprakash, Director and Chief Designer at Shilpa Architects Planners Designers writes a weekly column on Sustainability for The New Indian Express titled “ECOLOGIC”. This week she writes about the technology that connect to make you a smart citizen.

Full article below: (Also available at The New Indian Express Website)

Be the change you want to see 

The Greater Chennai Corporation launched the Namma Chennai App around this time almost a year ago. The user interface makes it easy to address some of our daily complaints  — bad roads, broken streetlights, garbage management and mosquito menace. The app is in line with the overall Smart City, Swachh Bharat and Digital India campaigns to help make our cities smart! So how does this help make us eco-friendly as well?

Well for starters, anything ‘Smart’ is inherently eco-friendly. Smart usage means resource conscious and efficient. In this case, it means using technology and connected networks to ensure that the concerns of a citizen are addressed. Typically, once a citizen takes a photo and logs in a complaint, the matter is directly sent to the ward in charge at the Corporation and to the higher officials. This proper communication ensures swift and targeted action instead of wasting time and resources in areas where there is no issue to be resolved.

I have been an active user of the app for the past few months now, and have found that the complaints have been swiftly attended to. A few hours within keying in the complaint, the concerned ward officials contact you on the phone for clarifications. Within 24-36 hours, the complaint is closed.

Citizen-led initiatives also tend to be sustainable in nature. People care about their neighbourhood and the cleanliness of spaces that they feel a personal connection to. It is evident now that the mindset of people of keeping just their homes clean is slowly changing. There is pride in keeping an entire neighbourhood clean. These are the beginnings of grassroot-citizen-led initiatives which thrive under the right leadership. The frustration used to be that when citizens united in such causes, there was little or no governmental support to help them solve issues which were way beyond their reach. Today, each one of us has access to the app on our phones — there is no excuse to not be a responsible citizen anymore.

The clearing of garbage on a particular street may seem like a neighbourhood issue. But, unless there is city-level support, it is impossible for the garbage to be disposed of in a rightful manner (i.e. either composted, recycled or disposed of in a landfill). Now, with the support of the app, each citizen is armed with the power to ensure that their street is cleaned feeling rest assured that the cycle of disposal/management of it is being handled well on a ‘Smart City’ level.

While designing green buildings, a lot of emphasis is placed on the physical comfort of the individual. There are mandates that pore into the detail of thermal and lighting comfort stipulating that these parameters are individually controlled. This is exactly what the Namma Chennai App does – it gives the citizens the power to individually control an entire neighbourhood or city even!
Be the change you wish to see in the world, empower yourself, stay responsible, stay swachh and discover the Namma Chennai App for yourself today!