What is civic tech? Are grievance redressal apps civic tech?

As citizens, we often feel helpless when we see open or overflowing drains, broken streetlights or potholes on our roads and we may not have the time to call the municipal authorities or keep following up, in hopes of some solution. At the same time, technology is being heralded as a panacea, something which can resolve all issues. Can the power of technology be leveraged for good local governance?

The advocates of civic tech say so! Civic tech apps have been envisioned by policymakers as a way of ensuring citizen participation in governance to create inclusive and equal cities.

Civic tech - Technologies that empower citizens to engage and participate in governance and better access government services as well as those that enable governments to become more accessible, efficient and effective in delivering services to citizens.

In terms of citizen engagement and participation in India, there are several apps and online platforms where residents can post their civic concerns from street lighting to potholes.

In some cities, this has got linked to the municipality which includes a response mechanism. In some cases, the city governments and municipalities themselves have taken lead in the initiative, while in other cases civic tech organisations have been at the fore. For these to be successful, it is not enough to build a platform, it needs to be a dynamic space that is in some way integrated into government response systems.
Further, the response must be visible and prompt otherwise people will not engage on an ongoing basis.

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