How to encourage community engagement in identifying, reporting, and following up on street issues

The Street Audit, an initiative spearheaded by our dedicated Youth Board member and mentor, @lalith_aaditya , aims to address minor civic issues that contribute to larger societal challenges when overlooked. Lalit envisions every street nationwide being audited by proactive Solve Ninjas, fostering a sense of ownership over their communities. This audit serves as a vital instrument to highlight and address prevalent concerns such as water and drainage, road conditions, street lighting, footpaths, sanitation, and waste management.

> “The street audit is a tool empowering citizens to spot and address street issues, fostering local civic-environmental solutions, and collecting vital hyperlocal data to drive change.”


Here’s how he initiated this impactful movement, Know Your Street (KYC):

Step 1: Understand and identify the various common civic issues on your street, related to:

  1. Water and drainage
  2. Roads, footpaths and lights
  3. Sanitation and waste

You can take a walk on your street and draw its general layout. Mark the spots where you notice the aforementioned issues.

Step 2: Gather a team of like minded friends and local citizens who want to highlight these local issues in their neighbourhoods as well. You can do this by networking with:

  1. Family and friends
  2. School and college students through whatsapp, posters, insta ads, etc.
  3. Social media options like LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.

Invite them to join you in collecting data from many streets in your city.

Step 3: Create a questionnaire using Google Forms with questions that will help your street auditors highlight these issues on their streets as well. For example click here. You can refer to the chatbot Lalit made, here.

Step 4: Reach out to as many individuals as you can to audit the streets in their areas. You can use word of mouth, social media, emailers, Chatbot prompts, etc. Ask auditors to Identify two or three streets that are closest to their vicinity.

To discover these they can:

  • Cycle or drive or walk around the neighbourhood
  • Ask people in your neighbourhood, etc
  • Use Google translate, Deepl or Lexicool to translate your audit questions to expand your reach. You may also have to modify some of the questions in order to accommodate separate issues faced by urban and rural areas.
  • Make sure to highlight commonly relatable issues, to improve affiliation

Step 5: Each question in the street audit is a root cause to many other problems we face. As you do the audit, think of what problems can this particular aspect lead to? For example, the question is: are there potholes and how many? Now think of what potholes can lead to? Accidents, clogging of rain water, damage to vehicles, reduced pedestrian safety, etc. This brings out the gravity of these small issues and helps auditors to relate and understand the issues they are facing, the causes and possible solutions—all through a simple audit!

Step 6: Samaaj Data is an open map-based dashboard, and street audits that have been done are reflected here. Hence, one can see which streets have audited around them, and also identify gaps utilising this collected data to highlight issues in their neighbourhoods and also see audited streets. This can be done using Canva, PowerPoint, Premier pro, inshot, etc. Go wild with how creatively and meaningfully you can portray the significant data. Click here to see how to use Canva.

Step 7: Stay consistent with the audit and take feedback on whether any issues were reported and/or solved. Keep emphasising on the outcome of people owning their streets. To continue user engagement and the continuous flow of data, gamify your approach and request follow up data to record issues solved and those that continue. Task auditors with keeping a fortnightly watch on whether the noted issues were resolved or not and if so, how long did it take for resolution.

Step 8: The goal is to reach every street in India, creating resilient and sustainable communities, and increasing citizen engagement.

Step 9: Here are a few learnings Lalit had by the end of his initiative, which is a testimony to the latent change-making potential of the street audit, and its vast implications, pushing him to explore further. So, what are the challenges and what next?

  • Locating streets more accurately
  • Improving audit’s relevance and accessibility in rural areas
  • Utilising and making sense of a large amount of data - how can we create lasting hyperlocal impact?
  • Scaling the model and onboarding more citizens
  • Visualising data on a public dashboard
  • Gamifying and expanding the scope