Namma Data, Namma Bengaluru

Data-based decisions will help BBMP thwart infrastructure problems forever. That's what Bengaluru needs to do: letting data and metrics shape the future of the city.

If I were the Mayor, I would let data and metrics shape the future of the city. The city has grown exponentially and beyond the expectations of everyone to a point where it is becoming unmanageable.

Well, as Peter Drucker famously said:

You can’t manage what you can’t measure. If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

The above would be my mantra to improve this city. Everybody has been saying there is no planning, but the intent to improve it has been very few. Unfortunately,for long amounts of time, there is hardly any data that is made available for taking informed decisions. First we need to measure, then document and share all the data related to management of this city including public transportation, waste management, traffic movements, drinking water, real estate and more. Only when we measure do we get the chance to prepare and manage better.

To bring about the positive changes, if I were to be the mayor I would make available all the data, open for citizens, to analyze them, question and come up with ideas. Not only citizens but anyone interested in making the difference including NGOs and Private companies.

Let’s for example take the data with regards to vehicular movement. We know this city is adding thousands of vehicles every day on the road, but there is no clarity on the following parameters which can help us solve the problem of traffic. Also we need to research on the Why of user choices.

For example:

  • Which RTO is receiving applications for maximum registrations?
  • What is the demographics of the region to which this RTO is catering to?
  • Why are people residing in this particular RTO opting for buying vehicles?

We could then gather data on the following:

Type of vehicles:

  • Four-wheelers
  • Two-wheelers
  • Three-wheelers
  • Commercial vehicles
  • Number of vehicles moving past a fixed location – This would help us most travelled / dense spot in the city
  • Time of the movement – How much time they get stuck there
  • Routes – patterns like To destination and From Destinations

Similarly, the following approach could possibly help solve the last mile connectivity for people using Metro and thereby reduce the number of vehicles on road.

  • Make public the data on number of commuters each day for each of the lines
  • This data should include the stations (we could identify top 5 to begin with) which have maximum footfalls every day by hour
  • What modes of transport do they use to get to and from their final destination and at what times
  • How far do these people travel to and from metro stations

We could then study the public transport availability at these top stations and try to match the frequency of the buses at these routes. BMTC now has those mini-bus type vehicles which have better mobility than the conventional ones and would suffice the number of people commuting at these metro stations.

We also know that not all stations have paid parking. Even if paid parking is available, we need to think how can we get so many people to stop using their vehicles and use public transport / pooling instead? For example, since the arrival of metro, I have stopped taking my car to office which was 18 kms from my home. My daily commute distance is 36 kms and close to 3 hours on road at peak times. Going by metro, that’s one less car during peak hour and I know quite a few friends and colleagues who do the same. But to get to the nearest metro station I prefer taking my own vehicle or a rickshaw. The reason is lack of adequate buses to the metro station. With the above data we could map or correlate the similar data provided by BMTC and rationalise the routing.

BMTC and Metro can complement each other rather than competing.

Waste management

I think we are lacking on data with regards to waste management big time. If I were Mayor, I would constitute a study on the following:

Areas that contribute maximum amount of waste based on the following categories:

– Commercial
– Residential

Which areas segregate the waste better:

– Dry
– Wet

Are there any local waste segregation / compost manufacturer who is interested in picking these up? For compost some Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) have alsready set up small units. Leveraging this idea, we could further do this on bigger scale.

Storm water management

We could have a similar data-driven approach to solve the frequent problem of flooding in several areas.

  • Amount of rain received
  • Rain water flow patterns
  • Dimensions of Storm Water Drains
  • Intended capacity
  • Last measured on the flow
  • Encroachments, if any
  • Previous recordings if any

I would bring in experts in the fields and open these data to them and general public for consultation. With regards to the works being tendered or allocated in relation to all the developmental activities concerning this city, I would make the following data publicly accessible:

  • Type of Work
  • Scope of the work
  • Service Level Agreements (SLAs) if any
  • Amount sanctioned vs Amount Paid
  • Name and details of the contractor, if he was blacklisted or penalized earlier,
  • Is the Contractor affiliated directly with any political organisation,
  • If the above data is not available, I would initiate the programs to start one

Prasanna V is an Information Technology professional living in Bengaluru. This is one of the shortlisted entries in ‘If I were the Bengaluru Mayor’ contest launched by Citizen Matters in September 2017.

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