Producing Scale in Community Processes: Use of IT, ICT App

Community participation is key to sustainable development. Participation however, needs time, skill and effort. Most cities lack the capacity to engage with people, especially at city scale. CURE developed and tested an IT application designed to quicken, broaden and manage community participation at scale. A rapid appraisal of available technologies among poor households, particularly women and mobile skills was undertaken prior to designing the application. The application was developed on a simple and-smart mobile phone (the phone that most poor owned) using an SMS interface (level of phone using capability among poor women) to engage with people. The application was designed to transform the city-citizen engagement from grievance-based to participatory planning. The application had a three-step process: identifying problem spots and sharing with city, getting connected to concerned officials responsible for complaint redressal and proposing contextual solutions to address these. Interspersed with direct facilitation processes, the application enables the poor communities to raise demands, share ideas and be part of the solution using their phones. The poorest without access to phones, could access the app from cyber cafes. The purpose was to shrink the process time between identification of the problem (what, where, why) and its resolution (how, who) by implementing context-specific solutions.

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