Bringing in Efficiency

To enhance the efficiency of its service delivery system, the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB) has undertaken several IT-enabled initiatives in Telangana. It has so far launched six mobile applications, which have enabled effective monitoring of project progress and completion, enhanced citizen participation and made the grievance redressal mechanism more efficient. Moreover, the mobile applications have provided an interactive platform for consumers to connect with their service providers.

Now, the board plans to launch another mobile application, which will focus on monitoring the works for service reservoirs, water supply trunk mains and distribution networks. This application will be used by corporators and HMWSSB’s project managers to track the availability of men and machines at worksites, as well as the progress of the project.

HMWSSB has incorporated various features based on the geographic information system (GIS) technology in all its six mobile applications. For this purpose, it has geofenced the boundaries of each section, division and subdivision in its jurisdiction. Most of its applications have a feature to upload images, such as for grievance redressal or to update the status of project works. Through GIS technology, the site’s location is geotagged while uploading the images. Moreover, HMWSSB has a common GIS-based web portal that enables it to monitor project works and complaints registered across all its applications. A look at HMWSSB’s mobile applications and their key features…

Citizen Services application

The Citizen Services mobile app was launched by HMWSSB in September 2016 and has already been downloaded by about 37,560 residents. It provides a user-friendly portal through which the board’s services can be availed of, both consumer and non-consumer services.

The consumer services extended through the application include provisions such as booking of water tankers and checking of status updates of tanker requests, and registering grievances and checking the status of these complaints. Consumers can also use the application to pay their water bills online and access their bill history. In addition, the know-your-officer service allows consumers to obtain details of the HMWSSB personnel in charge of their respective areas.

Non-consumer services such as registering complaints related to missing manhole covers, water supply leakages and sewage overflows are also available. Consumers can use the mobile app to report illegal water connections and check the status of applications for new water connections. Further, rainwater harvesting services can be availed of and details of rainwater pits can be updated.

To avail of these services, consumers have to first register themselves on the mobile app by using their consumer account number and previously registered mobile number. On registration, a one-time password is sent to the consumer’s registered mobile number for authentication. Consumers can use this to log on to the application and access the services.

The mobile app’s interface is such that it allows consumers to provide detailed and user-specific information regarding the services they need. For instance, to book a water tanker, users can choose the required tanker capacity, a tanker with or without a motor, and the time and date the tanker is needed. Similarly, to register a grievance, users can register the complaint type and reason, followed by a detailed description of the complaint.

They can substantiate their complaint by uploading an image. For instance, to register a pothole complaint, the consumer can upload an image of the pothole and mention a landmark for the concerned site. This enables the authorities to gauge the extent of the problem and take necessary measures to address the issue.

The application also provides detailed information about the status of grievance redressal. It indicates the token number and date on which the complaint was received by HMWSSB, and provides detailed status updates by making case-specific remarks. In this way, consumers can stay informed about HMWSSB’s progress on the issues raised.

JAL application

The JAL – Jaldi Action Le – mobile application was launched in August 2016 with the objective of providing on-time service delivery and information updates regarding water supply to citizens of Hyderabad. The application, available in both English and Telugu, gives consumers information on real-time water supply timings through SMS alerts. It also enables linesmen to send updates about the completion of valve operations to affected consumers via SMS. However, to get these alerts, consumers need to first get their phone numbers registered on HMWSSB’s white list.

The application is also used by the service providers for operations and maintenance (O&M) works. Linesmen working on the water supply network can register issues in their jurisdictions by selecting the type of issue and uploading an image. This helps the issues to be brought to the notice of HMWSSB officials and enable prompt action.

Besides valve operations and O&M works, the JAL application can be used by linesmen to register complaints regarding issues such as absence of chlorine in the supplied water, valve and pipe leakages, polluted water supply, sewage overflow, missing manhole covers and non-receipt of bills. It can also be used to request for new meters and report illegal connections.

JAL, moreover, has a global positioning system (GPS)-enabled real-time monitoring component. Continuous project updates are provided via GPS mapping of the concerned location.

Work Monitoring System application

This application was launched in November 2015 to enable HMWSSB’s employees to monitor projects and update the status of project works. These updates consist of both letter of credit (LoC) works (non-planned and day-to-day O&M activities) and budget works (planned activities for the financial year). To access the app, HMWSSB employees have to register themselves on the platform, giving their mobile number and designation.

The Work Monitoring application also incorporates a feature for geotagging images of project works. This is used to monitor the location and status of works by employees. Once the images are uploaded and an inspection ID is generated, the board sanctions the bill amount for the works undertaken. A digital report is thus created of all LoC and budget works carried out in different areas.

Green Brigade application

HMWSSB authorises only trained personnel, called “Green Brigade” contractors, to provide physical water supply connections in Hyderabad. In February 2016, it launched the Green Brigade application to enable these contractors to update details regarding boring and metering works on new connections. It can also be used to generate consumer account numbers. The app allows the contractors  to update building details, generate bills and record customers’ feedback. It also allows them to access a list of pending connections in their service areas. These could be either new connections or enhancement works.

Commercial Survey application

This mobile application has been developed with the objective of facilitating data collection and was launched in June 2016. It is used by HMWSSB personnel to identify non-domestic activity and non-domestic/commercial connections that have been wrongly or illegally termed as domestic. Further, the application has a feature that allows HMWSSB operators to generate notices for illegal connections. It also enables a survey to capture information regarding sewerage connections. HMWSSB is currently working on incorporating additional features in the application.

Rain Water Harvesting application

HMWSSB launched this app in May 2016 to receive requests from consumers for setting up rainwater harvesting facilities and monitor works in an effective manner. It also uses it to monitor the construction of pits and record details of project works. Till September 2016, the application had been downloaded by about 400 consumers.

Conclusion

HMWSSB’s introduction  of a wide array of mobile-based applications has made the board’s operations more transparent, as well as enhanced its accountability to consumers. Such IT-enabled solutions are expected to expedite project works and enable greater interaction between consumers and service providers. Provisions for systematic registration of issues, facilities to upload images through geotagging and detailed project updates should help change the way grievances are handled by urban local bodies. Successful implementation of these initiatives should encourage other municipal corporations and local bodies to undertake similar measures for a smarter approach to problem-solving and efficient service delivery.

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