Greater Accountability

KUWSDB upgrades its information systems to enhance transparency in operations

The Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board (KUWSDB) has been taking technological initiatives to improve the delivery of municipal services in the state. One of the most noteworthy initiatives in this area has been the development of a comprehensive management information system (MIS) that has resulted in improved transparency and accountability, efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Over the years, KUWSDB has developed and integrated its entire operational system as part of its efforts to improve the customer experience and provide a user-friendly interface between the government and citizens. In the past decade, the board has implemented various e-governance modules to improve service delivery.

Smart Utilities presents a snapshot of the key IT initiatives taken by KUWSDB to upgrade its information systems as well as enhance transparency, accountability and service delivery…

MIS: KUWSDB has deployed an MIS to aggregate and disseminate information related to various activities of the board. The system captures and stores all the information it receives from field data inputs, including a technical module, analysis and design inputs provided by NISA, as well as additional field inputs.

The MIS is broadly divided into five modules – technical, material management system, human resource development/establishment, accounts, and payroll. All five modules are interlinked so as to enable easy data transfer. The entire system runs on a corporate network, linking the head office, divisional offices and subdivisions across the state. It covers almost all the activities of the board.

Further, the system is capable of updating information pertaining to accounts payables. The MIS systematically assembles all the information regarding KUWSDB’s projects on a single portal. The information collected is used for the preparation of reports, running account  bills, tender documents and evaluation.

The development and implementation of the MIS was done through a wide area network and a local area network by computerising all the offices in the state in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, and Tata Consultancy Services, Bengaluru.

E-tendering system: Tendering is an area where transparency is a prerequisite for competitive bidding. To ensure that the tenders are awarded in a legitimate and transparent manner, KUWSDB has adopted an e-tendering process. This has helped in making the entire bidding process efficient through the speedy finalisation of tenders.

Third-party inspection: To ensure quality in construction and transparency in the methodology of implementation, KUWSDB has initiated third-party inspection of all works at site since 2010. To lend legitimacy to the entire process, third-party inspection agencies are appointed through open tendering.

Central control room-cum-response centre: To enhance consumer satisfaction, KUWSDB has set up a centralised control room and response centre (CCRRC). The idea behind the CCRRC was to offer a platform for dealing with consumer grievances as well as provide a portal where information can be accessed by civilians and officials.

The CCRRC has been set up to address all water-related problems of consumers from 213 local bodies, except Bengaluru. The response centre acts as a medium between customers and officials, making service delivery efficient and satisfactory. Consumers can seek assistance for any water-related issue, like no water supply in the area, contractor problems, meter-related problems, or contaminated water supply.

After a complaint has been registered with the CCRRC, it is forwarded to the concerned authority, which ensures that the problem is resolved.

For example, when a consumer registers a complaint pertaining to the quality of water being supplied, the control centre forwards the complaint to the zonal officer of the concerned area who gets the water tested at a private laboratory. In order to lend more accountability to the system, the consumer is given a docket number on registering a complaint, which can be used to view the status of the complaint. Consumers can register complaints through phone calls, SMS, WhatsApp and email, which is routed to the central server. Besides, customers can submit their grievance in writing at the nearest KUWSDB office of the concerned district. Complaints can be lodged in any language.

Information portal: Apart from addressing complaints, the CCRRC also acts as an information portal. Any information regarding tender documents, projects undertaken by KUWSDB and projects that have been transferred to any urban local body (ULB) can be obtained from the centre. This information is made available to the centre through the MIS. Also, the progress of infrastructure projects can be monitored and feedback from consumers on quality and maintenance obtained.

Further, customers can access weekly updates on the status of projects, schemes and events through KUWSDB’s Facebook page. Apart from complaints related to water supply, customers can also post their complaints pertaining to slow progress or any other aspect of the project they are not satisfied with.

Conclusion

KUWSDB’s initiatives to achieve greater consumer satisfaction have been successful and are gaining recognition from citizens. With the successful adoption of social media, the board has become more approachable and accountable for service provision. This is evident from the numerous responses the board has been receiving on its Facebook and Twitter pages.

A similar success story is expected of the CCRRC, which is a step forward in KUWSDB’s objective of ensuring adequate water supply from assured and safe sources, as well as proper sanitation facilities across all urban areas.

Constant efforts are being made by KUWSDB to improve the capacities of ULBs and provide assistance in project execution. The successful implementation of these initiatives is expected to increase the scope for other technological measures to improve customer interface.

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