Street Audit - Can tech really create local impact?

In November 2021, during a discussion with Kuldeep Dantewadia my mentor at Reap Benefit, an idea arose - can we audit the basic issues in our streets? - waste, sanitation, roads, and more. The smaller issues and nuances go unnoticed, and compound over time to give rise to larger societal threats. I instantly had mixed reactions of fascination and skepticism. The idea was intriguing, but who’s going to do it and how? I did not believe that tech could be of good use to create social impact - the more it advances, the more it creates and destroys on its path. I also had never pioneered a project at that stage, so the thought of building an idea from scratch was overwhelming. “Let’s test this” said Kuldeep, I thought so too, and a week later, the Street Audit was born.

Version 1.0 - Google Form

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To test the idea, we required a simple prototype. Upon basic understanding of the common street issues, an audit of 25 questions were created and classified into 3 main aspects:

  • Roads, Footpaths and Lights
  • Water and Drainage
  • Waste and Sanitation

The aim was to get people to test it out, collect feedback and improve. After 10-15 audits, the mission was clear - street audit is a tool that enables citizens to identify issues in their street, inspire local civic-environmental problem-solving and collect hyperlocal data to enable change! #OwnYourStreet

Version 2.0 - WhatsApp-Based Chatbot (Glific)

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Glific - Flows for WhatsApp Chatbot

The next iteration focused on user experience, accessibility and inclusion. This prompted the shift to Reap Benefit’s WhatsApp-Based Chatbot (+91 8095500118) which is run and operated on Glific, an open-source 2-way communication platform for NGOs. The chatbot is connected through a Webhook to a Google Sheet on the backend, to collect and store data for analysis and visualization. Glific offers several amazing features - interactive messages, adding images, location, and user collections that enhanced the experience of the street audit, and provided more context to users.

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Street Audit - Screenshots from WhatsApp

Some audit questions were altered or removed, based on feedback received from users (this continues to date). The data collected is then cleaned on the backend and is used for further analysis, visualization, and can be shown in a public dashboard, for citizens to utilise collected data and also see audited streets. At this stage, the street audit had developed into a functional product. To access the audit: click this link Share on WhatsApp and hit “send” to get started!

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Street audit responses collected in the backend Google Sheet

The First Big Test!

World Environment Day celebrated on June 5th, provided an opportunity for the Street Audit to reach the masses. As part of Reap Benefit’s Environment Day Campaign (3rd-5th June 2022), a more gamified challenge was made using the street audit itself. To ensure an accessible reach to all geographies, the entire chatbot-based audit was translated and made available in 4 Languages - English, Kannada, Hindi, Punjabi. Different regions have different issues, and to account for the issues of rural areas, a separate simpler audit was created upon on-ground analysis of the needs and common issues faced, to keep the relevance. Over the course of the 3 days of the campaign, 1799 citizens joined the #OwnYourStreet challenge, 153 street audits completed, with a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 93.6%, reinstating the success, importance and potential of the tool created.

In August 2022, I was selected as a Millennium Fellow for the Class of 2023 taking Street Audit as the project to advance #SDG11 for a semester-long fellowship jointly offered by Millennium Campus Network (MCN) and United Nations Academic Impact. An idea that began as a trial a few months prior, had gotten me into one of my dream fellowships - it was surreal!

The Dormant Period

The crisis of what next was ever-lasting, I felt stuck, and my focus on the project dropped eventually in October 2022. I had lost motivation, but the tool’s impact and potential never died out. Citizens and reap benefit members had continued to use the street audit to become aware, train their problem-solving muscle, and in March 2023, the number of audits had trickled up to over 300! A strong sense of regret and responsibility hit back at me. The street audit has been a learning curve for me - more than just a project and outcomes, it has taught me the importance of consistent action, the true meaning of resilience, and showed that even interesting things get boring when you stop trying! I had to pull myself back onto the driver’s seat and reignite passion for the street audit.

The Second Big Test, same as the First!

Reap Benefit’s Environment Day Campaign was back on 5th June 2023 and the project was used once again - the street audit has come a full circle! This time, the target audience was the organization’s team itself and aimed to cover various areas in Bangalore, identify issues, collate data points and present it to the local government (BBMP). The impact: 307 street audits, collecting 1281 data points from 6 Constituencies, and 28 wards. Another milestone crossed!

The Road Ahead

As I pen this article, 800+ street audits have been done, about 60% coming from Bangalore, 15% from Chennai, and the remaining spread across various parts of the nation. The goal is to reach every street in India, creating resilient and sustainable communities, and increasing citizen engagement.

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Geographical representation of streets audited in Bangalore

This is a testimony to the latent change-making potential of the street audit, and it’s vast implications, pushing me to explore further. So, what are the challenges and what next?

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


This article serves as a reflection of the efforts, failures and successes in my journey. I extend my gratitude to Reap Benefit for providing me the resources and a platform to make this vision a reality, and to all the people who have contributed to the street audit since it began. Exciting times are ahead - to Version 3.0 and beyond!

YOU can save the planet too, one street at a time! Click on the link and hit send Share on WhatsApp to #OwnYourStreet. Share this article with your friends, family and those who’d benefit from it. Let’s join hands to harness the potential of technology and communities to create change, and empower more solutions together.

Can tech really create local impact? YES, it can!

Please share your thoughts, queries, and suggestions in the comments. I’d love to hear from you, discuss, ideate (maybe collaborate too!) and you can also reach out to me at