UnMuted: An App for Citizens to Identify and Report Civic Issues
Did you ever feel the need of raising your voice but did not have a means to do that?
Not anymore. Three tech-entrepreneurs from Ahmedabad, Nirmit Parikh, Tanmay Desai and CEO of Space-O, Rakesh Patel have assumed the responsibility of making a difference in our lives.
And born the idea of UnMuted, a Non-Profit civic engagement mobile app.
The app allows citizens to identify and report the civic issues related with environment, public safety, health, and so on resulting into a quick attention and timely action by the government, municipality or the concerned civic authority.
Although it serves as a tool to post issues in the first phase, city administrators and civic authorities are already showing a high interest in the app for a few reasons:
It offloads civic bodies to act upon the request quickly and resolve the issues curtailing the otherwise lengthy and formal procedures that require too much time and money (almost thousands of dollars) annually.
The app will not ONLY help local bodies to be aware about the civic issues but will facilitate them to work upon it with priority, i.e. issues with highest ratings from public (smartphone users) can be dealt with priority.
But this was just about the government and related civic bodies, a COMMON MAN can also benefit greatly:
People can report an issue in 4 EASY steps:
Capturing the Photo of issue
Selecting the Relevant Category of issue (Garbage, Pothole, Health Issues, Dangerous Condition, Re-Development, Police Issue, Environment Issue, Noise Complain and other)
Writing a short description (This is Optional)
Submitting the issue
People cannot just report a civic issue along with place, date and time but they can also rate the problem, i.e. the higher the rating, the worse is the problem.
Since everyone will know how old the problem is, who is responsible for solving it, etc; it will improve accountability among the civic officials and authorities obligating them to respond and resolve the issue with utmost precedence. In short, this app can bring potential and positive changes in the interests of public, particularly where representatives are elected periodically. Hence this app has been nicknamed as “Democracy 2.0” where the process truly becomes participatory.
Technical Highlights of “UnMuted A.K.A. Democracy 2.0 App”
The app has an intuitive ‘Language Agnostic’ User Interface (UI), focusing more on symbols and imagery than any particular language. It took around 9 months to develop the app with 78 iterative changes in the interface and design in order to make it accessible in every part of the world and for any age group.
The app allows people to use Location Based Services on their smartphones to report a problem with picture as well as the site (location) all in real time, i.e. the entire process barely takes a few seconds compared to otherwise lengthy and formal request drafting in person.
In the backend, the city agency gets a Web Dashboard that lets them track the number of reports which have been captured, bundled and automatically transferred to the government agency responsible for the infraction. It also shows a map mash-up of where the issues are located, pending issues, and graphs that break down reports by type over a given period of time. Issues not addressed within a stipulated time period are automatically tagged on again and again.
If you witness a civic issue in your neighborhood or the place you are visiting, go UnMuted about it. Download the app from iTunes. You can even follow the UnMuted on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.