Sonia was driving along a highway when she suddenly lost control over the wheels and veered along the road, only to stop at a ditch. Thankfully, she was not hurt and managed to call for help. An hour before she drove along that stretch, Cynthia had noticed a gaping pothole and avoided driving over it because daylight still bathed that remote stretch of highway. If Cynthia had access to an app that could inform the authorities as soon as she saw a pothole, servicemen nearby could probably have placed a board or cordoned a part of that road in the nick of time, avoiding the risky loss of control that Sonia had to face.
There are already a number of apps, which rely on crowd-sourcing to help authorities/enterprises that manage infrastructure using location based information. One such crowd-sourcing solution is Infrafix. This crowd-sourcing app for geo-located infrastructure and management can be a boon not only to end-users but primarily to Governments & enterprises that need to undertake real-time management of geo-located information and assets. This mobile application is currently available for Android devices and will soon be available on iOS & Windows devices as well.
How does one use Infrafix?
Infrafix can be used on both tablets and mobile phones, in both offline & online mode. A user who has installed Infrafix needs to collect data real-time such as taking pictures or filling up custom designed forms in order to let concerned authorities know where the infrastructure is damaged or malfunctioning. The app comes with in-built social sharing abilities so that issues can be resolved on a prioritized basis.
The mobile app can be used in conjunction with the web portal app Infrafix (http://demo.infrafix.co.in/) so that field crews and servicemen can share & receive information wherever they are. Supervisors, managers and co-workers can receive real-time data about broken-down infrastructure so that timely action can be taken, avoiding situations in which Susan found herself in the example cited above. Infrafix is an effective and powerful solution for managing infrastructure breakdowns real-time, helping both enterprises & Governments to engage in effective and positive governance.
Infrafix and social governance
Infrafix can be discussed in the context of social governance. Social governance refers to the process of using social media to engage citizens, collect information and also carry out government-related activities.
For instance, when ministries use Twitter to inform citizens about new legislations, it is a form of social governance. When a police department alerts citizens about a burglar on the prowl, it is again a form of social governance. If a resident of a community tweets that he or she is not able to reach the hospital and requests for emergency services to be sent through government/community channels, it is again a form of social governance.
With that in mind, when people or employees send real-time data, in the form of pictures or forms or text messages to relevant authorities about infrastructural issues that need attention, it is again a form of social governance; and a very important form of it too. Infrafix can, thus, be described as a crowd-sourcing application that enhances social governance by bringing relevant and concerned authorities’ attention to broken down infrastructure. It does not matter what sort of infrastructure we are talking about.
Whether it is a road that needs to be repaired, a bad traffic jam that is not able to clear itself, a rainwater drain that is overflowing or a building that looks like it is about to crumble down, all these and more can be addressed when real people in real-time identify issues & inform authorities (both Governments and enterprises) through geo-location enabled applications such as Infrafix.
Infrafix comes with a number of features that make it a viable social governance tool. Some of the most important features are:
• Web and mobile app:
It works on both mobile devices and the web. Users can report issues whether they are on the location or take pictures (if they are unable to connect to the Internet) and upload it on the web interface, when they have access to the internet.
Accurate location and geo-tagging helps concerned authorities to identify where the issue is being reported from & immediately rush to the spot. If that pile of garbage is raising a stink, waste management departments can immediately rush to the spot and clear it, as soon as an Infrafix user reports it. The app comes with rich GIS symbology and visualization, which helps in identifying the source of the issue.
• Account admin & workflow mechanism:
Data is revealed conveniently on maps and graphs so that issues can easily be fixed. Offsite workers can access in-built databases wherever they are.
• Crowd-source with social sharing:
Nothing is more important than getting people to report problems to concerned authorities themselves, instead of relying solely upon field workers. Crowd-sourcing helps concerned authorities to reach out to infrastructural issues as and when they happen, leading to better reputation & e-governance.
• Online and offline data capture:
You could take pictures real-time and attribute information that can easily be entered. Data attributes can easily be viewed and edited from within the app as well.
• One-click map and data sharing:
Users can collaborate real-time and access maps.
• Reporting and analytics:
Data can easily be entered into layers within a map so that issues can easily be analyzed, moderated, shared and published; that leads to immediate alerts, thanks to that through which the issues can be addressed. As response time is reduced, enterprises or Governments, which are entrusted with duties, can fix issues on time.
Who is likely to benefit from Infrafix?
Whoever deals with on-field issues will benefit from Infrafix. To that effect, even real estate and construction companies can benefit from Infrafix. If your job or duties require you to engage in identifying, reporting and resolving on-field issues in real-time, then Infrafix is probably the app of choice.
Thanks to its collaborative and minimalist approach, it is easy to get people to use it, while you use it to tackle problems and issues that they bring back to you. All that one requires to report on-field issues is a smart phone or a tablet and most people these days are already equipped with it. Whether it is a large infrastructure that needs to be monitored or an asset that might malfunction at times, apps that make use of geo-location identification are incredibly useful.
Making social governance a success
Social governance has uniquely thrust new responsibilities upon governments and enterprises. With the advent of immediacy associated with social media, people expect infrastructure and assets to be fixed as soon as possible. It is no longer forgivable to arrive late at a pothole that needs to be fixed. It is also no longer forgivable if a trash goes unnoticed by authorities.
If the waste management agency does not notice it in time, someone else surely will and it will be the talk of the town or rather talk of the social media. Crowd-sourcing apps not only help you to receive real-time data about which infrastructure or asset needs attention, it will also make people and those on field more attentive to issues that need an immediate response. All these lead to better governance and management.
If you are elected or chosen to take care of assets and infrastructure, the only way to ensure that you are doing it right is by making sure that you are in the loop. That can only happen when you receive real-time data about issues that need attention. Apps like Infrafix help you to receive those real-time alerts by way of crowd-sourcing.
Social governance can help both enterprises and Governments to arrive at solutions even before they become issues. There is nothing better than fixing problems before they attract negative press. Moreover, crowd-sourced data just make things easier. Tracking data and analyzing them are no longer expensive or time consuming as people will do it themselves, if they have an application to do so, on their devices.
Applications like Infrafix will continue to dominate the sphere of social governance in the coming years and those who adopt early will also be the more successful ones. Though it might seem daunting in the beginning, adopting crowd-sourcing models will boost both governance and management.