Every residential colony or society has something unique about its architecture and layout but ultimately it is the people who make it special by building a community around it….
While most urban people today live in housing societies or colonies which tend to offer benefits such as – common facilities like security, security, a garden or park, club house, swimming pools, and in many cases service providers (plumbers, electricians etc.), we understand that to enjoy these facilities, proper maintenance of infrastructure is imperative.
For smooth functioning of the same, the teams responsible for ensuring this (whether they’re builders or RWAs or apartment complex management) often face various kinds of challenges. At times though, damage control measures applied in some critical situations prove futile because of ineffectual planning or working in silos that result in stress, delays or even hazardous situations.
Undoubtedly, the solution might be a ‘participative approach’ to managing things which increases the ownership of all residents of an area. If everyone is proactive and contributes to the machinery that manages things, plausible problems can be anticipated and preventive measures can put in place, on time.
What is Participative Governance?
Under this model of governance, the members of a community get together and make plans regarding how everything can be best maintained for the benefit of everyone. The community itself is responsible and accountable for all decisions and determine the out-come of work-related activities.
Participative governance affords everyone a voice, where inputs often come ‘from the heart’ because everyone is personally benefited in some way or the other. It also helps the RWAs or management authorities because they can get inputs from the residents and also potentially tap into the social network of residents to get things done then just relying on their networks.
Participation by resident members also fosters a team environment; as working with each other can help achieve certain community goals (where many emergency situations can also be averted). So whether it’s planning for rain water harvesting, a challenge with the lifts, installing surveillance systems or even planning a new garbage disposal strategy, everything is planned with contributions from all.
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Interaction between residents can be streamlined if they’re connected through electronic and mobile networks, and information technology when accessed in real time, can facilitate communication. By tapping into the potential of the aggregated network, a large number of effective solutions can be easily arrived at.
Reinventing Participative Governance through Information Technology
A basic consideration in the ongoing debate on governance in modern societies is the easy inclusion of everyone who should participate in decision making.
Given the busy schedule or work commitments and time spent in traffic from eight to eight for most people, time commitment with the family on a Sunday, many residents in a colony/society find it difficult to participate in Resident Welfare or Neighborhood Management activities. However, urban communities have now arrived at a moment; ‘thanks to internet technology’, where a connected form of communication and participation is possible.
Technology helps in stratification of people, places and groups, and makes possible good communication available to addressing the local needs of a community – for example, before, during or after any natural or man-made disasters, access to reliable information on doctors, businesses, or children’s classes in the neighborhood; or determine policies and processes for improvisation of security, and maintenance of services and infrastructure based on the needs and interests of a community. Moving to governance with help of technology in effect disenfranchises responsibility and accountability of a few stakeholders to the vast majority who now become decision makers in themselves.
In this transition, an alliance between internet technology and the holistic recommendations from indigenous communities can directly lead to improved quality of maintenance, living satisfaction, strength of the neighborhood community and how special it is for everyone who calls it a home.