Arnav Daultani - firstname.lastname@example.org
Going from almost nothing in the 1980s to being valued at almost 7 $T in 2010 the technology industry is one of the fastest-growing industries on the planet spreading over a wide range of fields and areas. Tech has certainly made its mark on the world by being one of the best inventions of the 21st century. Inventions such as the computer, portable electronics and the internet have brought the world closer together than ever before. It is the reason you are reading this whitepaper right now. It is the reason you can call your friends whenever you’re bored. It is the reason for a lot of the daily activities we do today. Technology has influenced almost every part of our lives. Whether this is for the better or for the worse is up to interpretation and debate.
As for the government, technology has been a huge player in improving the governmental sector of India. One of the best examples of this is the application “Aarogya Setu”, an application for reliable and fast updates on the Covid-19 pandemic, straight from the Indian government. This application allowed users to view their “danger” status based on active cases around them, book vaccinations and access resources to keep themselves safe. This app was released during the Covid-19 pandemic and helped millions of people in the country. Apart from this another one of the big services that has come up in recent years is the introduction of “FastTag”. A simple QR code that the user can attach to the windshield of their vehicles that allows a fast TOLL experience, automatically scanning the code and withdrawing the charges from the attached bank and/or UPI wallet. The service has been marketed and gained so much popularity that non-FastTag attached vehicles are now charged extra for the same tolls.
While we see technology in all aspects of our daily lives from the alarms that wake us up in the morning to the computers that manage our funds in a bank, there is one aspect of human life that technology is yet to dominate completely. Smart Feedback Systems in public places.
“We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve.” - Bill Gates. Feedback is one of the most important things you can receive as a governmental body, especially in a democracy such as India. A government for the people, by the people, of the people. Feedback helps improve the quality of life of the public. This feedback can be about anything, the cleanliness, the management, the services etc. Any feedback is good feedback since it gives the government a chance to do better. Feedback is also one of the best ways for an individual in a population dense country such as India to directly propose their views directly to the government. This direct connection with the government creates a sense of trust and feeling of being a valued citizen of the country whose opinions matter. It creates an environment in which even the common man can voice their opinions and be heard.
Public places are a huge contender for where feedback matters the most. With a population as large as that of India, public places see a huge range of people throughout the day. It is where people spend the most of their time. Although feedback systems do exist in a lot of places around the country, none of them come without their quirks. Difficult to find resources, ignorance and apathy all contribute to a huge deficit in the feedback the government actually receives versus what the people really think. Every person has a view but there just isn’t a fast and efficient way of getting those views from an individual to the government. That’s where we come in.
Public places are filled with people, people who are busy, people trying to get places. For an audience as niche as that, online links and resources are no good since a majority of people would walk past any signboards with links or urls. Most people don’t have time to stand next to a signboard, scan the QR code and fill out the form. It’s neither convenient nor intuitive. It just doesn’t work. There are places however where the busy lives of the public come to a halt, certain stops. Bus stops, train stations, long lines, you name it. These are the places where people are forced to halt in order to carry on with their lives. While halted here there aren’t a lot of things one can do apart from scrolling on their phone or taking a call. This solution works by capitalising on that little amount of free time people have before moving on with their journey or moving ahead in the line.
Waiting for a bus or in a long line is also when people start to notice more of their surroundings, both the pros and the cons of it. It is the time where new opinions are made and suggestions or even concerns come to mind. A kiosk type machine, a tangible device that is situated at these places is something that is proven to work. Not only is it a good pastime for the citizens waiting around but it’s also an intuitive method of getting information from the public about what they truly think about the environment around them. This also means that incentives don’t need to be provided to the people to actually fill the form, having something to do while waiting IS the incentive. The opportunity to voice their opinions and connect with the government directly IS the incentive.
The kiosk would include not more than 5-6 questions which are all MCQ based, allowing the user to rate their experience on a scale of 1-5 and/or Strongly Agree - Strongly Disagree, depending on the question. Each question will have a supplementary textbox in case certain users wish to add more of their opinions in response to a question along with a final textbox for any more comments or suggestions they have for the location as a whole. Furthermore, the kiosk will be equipped with features to allow for a greater number of people to voice their opinions. These include multiple languages based on the location of the machine, accessibility features for the disabled, voice typing and more. This reduces the gap between who can choose to provide feedback, thus allowing the government to collect more data.
This is a method that has proven to work in the past. Although not being used commonly by the government, such feedback kiosks are very common in the private sector, in places such as malls, airports etc. Kiosk here helps the management of the private area understand how they can do better and improve their services. This solution serves as an introduction of a proven concept that has been working for years for the private sector, into the public and for governance.
Apart from the feedback form, the potential of having control of what thousands of screens around the country display at a given time is enormous. In times of crisis for example these screens can display emergency instructions guiding the public on what to do and even display huge PSAs throughout the country. Moreover, advertisements could also be put on the screens when a form is not being filled. This allows for certain products to reach large volumes and the government to make back some of the money they initially invested in the production of these kiosks. Moreover, the kiosks can also serve as emergency calling/contact points for citizens to use in situations wherein they feel unsafe and/or need their attention from authorities. The uses for these kiosks are unlimited, the sky's the limit.
While this solution has huge possibilities for the government, as all solutions do, it also comes with its issues. “Trolling” or false/wrong insertion of data is plausible as well. This is wherein people answer the questions randomly instead of thinking about their answers. Although some of these issues can be solved through software detection technologies, there is always that a certain percentage of the data received makes it through the filters. For this employee would need to be hired to filter through the data and remove the pieces of data which seem fishy and inaccurate. This is an integral step since not doing so would provide policy makers with wrong results and data points which can be disastrous in certain situations. Physical harm to the actual kiosks such as vandalism and destruction is also an issue that could come up with going forward with a solution like this one.
In conclusion, the value of reliable public feedback for the government is high and the opportunities to improve the public spaces is indefinite. A design such as this will greatly benefit both the parties engaging in this: the public and the government. The public would treat these as a pastime in public places while voicing their suggestions and concerns to the government. The government will then go on to use these ideas in implementing new solutions to better the state of the public spaces. The public gets to voice their opinions and the government gets to improve the quality of life. Although this white paper did not go into specific details of the different processes involved in implementing this solution (manufacturing, distribution, analisis) it serves as an introduction and brief explanation of the pros and cons of such a solution and the real need for it. All in all, a solution like this is something that should be considered as a viable option to improve the quality of life of the public.