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IPhones for Politicians!

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IT solutions and its empowerment have essentially focused on executive management, in the private sector space. With government it does become two pronged because there is need for legislator empowerment too. Legislators/Politicians primarily are involved in policy and not so much in delivery execution. This may be the case with other layers of government but not so much in Local Government/ Municipalities. Municipalities worldwide are the primary providers of utilities and amenities to the citizen while the other layers focus on managing and deciding policies. This being the case the delivery responsibilities and monitoring do fall on the legislators to a large extent. These are day to day problems and the electorate prefers to raise it to the elected representative in many cases rather than the executive management. As a learned friend of mine pointed out, these elected representatives live “next door” as opposed to hundreds of kilometers away as with the other elected representatives, which makes access that much more easier.Â

The “friendly neighborhood councilor” thus access to tools to be able to better answer and manage their electorate.

 Spatial Analysis is one such tool that could be used as a politician’s tactical service delivery tool in Local Government/Municipalities.

 Polity defines the structures of the government and, thus its accountability and responsibility. One of the main challenges faced by politicians under the current local government polity is to balance the equitable distribution of services under their mandate. Governments are elected and thus do also have the pressure of “pandering” up to the electorate, in addition to being able to service all its ‘customers’.

 A politician’s stakeholder, the citizen, is indeed a heterogeneous lot, and the challenge of managing this heterogeneity is mainly in the socio-economic realm. Socio – Economic demographics primarily drives policy and thus the implementation too.

 In an ideal world every thing would be equitable, but unfortunately, we do not live in Utopia. The equity or the lack of it emerges in two spaces

  1. Service Distribution and Availability
  2. Service Pricing

 Services are delivered on a geographic basis and the foundation of spatial analysis is to analyse and manage these services geographically. Cities as urban agglomerations are growing and there are inherent disparities geographically. Spatial Analysis is a classic tool to mitigate this imbalance. A classic usage is the prevention of restrictions (disconnections) of services for specific geographic locations which could be “sensitive”. Sensitive taking many forms as simple as “poor quality of services in particular areas” to “this ward is up for an election next year”. Focused geographically demarcated property taxation relief based on availability of basic amenities is another step empowering the politician in managing their electorate.  Locating and optimally distributing low cost housing projects for the needy. The usage and implementation taking many such forms, but don’t you think that the politician needs IT empowerment considering they are bearing the flak for performance or the lack of it?

-Contributed by Vancheeswar B

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