To digital democracy via social technology


For the average wired generation person brought up on a staple of Internet technologies and tools that help navigate the world, Indian cities can often be a frustrating experience.

IT tools for local situations such as the traffic jam at the next signal, details of personal traffic violations, pollution on the street, progress of a local infrastructure project or even the coordinates for the local councillor or authorities rarely figure in the Indian online experience.

In Bangalore, over the last 10 years, a NASA climate researcher-turned-aspiring-politician and a company he started on the Indian Institute of Management campus with three others has been trying to apply wired solutions to local problems transport, environment, governance, education, health.

Mapunity, working closely with government authorities and using what he calls "social technology at work", has developed over a dozen online tools to cater to wired Bangaloreans.

On top of the list is the Bangalore Transport Information System, built in collaboration with the traffic police and transport authorities, which integrates information from 160 traffic cameras, cellular service providers and public transport GPS systems to provide real-time feedback on the traffic situation. It also pulls vehicle registration data from transport offices.

Primarily built for use in a central police traffic control room, Mapunity's transport information solution also gives access to citizens to some information processed in the control room.

It gives details of traffic violations registered against a vehicle and also helps users locate people in their vicinity interested in creating car pools.

Mapunity has also built a City Management System it calls Technagara, a social network for addressing governance issues, the environment and even city heritage by providing information and promoting public engagement.

Mapunity has a "digital democracy" project called Netcitizen where it pulls data from all national and local elections to improve information and feedback on elections and governance. Mapunity has now tied up with the Association for Democratic Reforms, creators of the National Election Watch, a campaign for electoral reforms and good governance, to create a portal.

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