The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) WhatsApp Chatbot went live last week, making many essential services available to citizens at their fingertips.
As soon as you click the WhatsApp link and send 'Hi', it sends you a message asking for a preferred language. The Chatbot currently displays only two language options – English and Marathi. After choosing a language it gives you options to select one of three segments currently listed for exploration – citizen, business and tourist.
Selecting the citizen's option gives access to another list to choose from, which includes – About us, Know your ward, Health services, Schools near me, Civic services, Amenities near me, Emergency contacts and BEST services. The 'about us' option takes app users to a welcome message with the picture of the mayor and the municipal commissioner. The 'know your ward' option pops up good details about the ward just by adding the pin code or location of the area.
These details include ward office address and fire station details, along with ward assistant commissioner and complaint officer contact information. Under 'health services' one can find an array of information including Covid19 control room and vaccination support.
By mentioning the pin code or location, the 'control room' option can provide you with information related to Covid-19 hospital bed availability while the 'vaccination support' option gives details about vaccination centres near you.
The 'vaccination support' option also gives details about how to get bedridden citizens vaccinated at home. The service can also be used to show schools nearby, to register complaints for civic services and also to obtain information about BEST buses.
The 'Business' option gives the citizens easy access to permissions and licenses required from the BMC, while the 'Tourist' option helps tourists locate different locations around them. Assistant Commissioner G-south ward, Director (IT) BMC, Sharad Ughade, said, “This service has started to bring most of the BMC services on a unified platform. We can reach maximum people through WhatsApp and so have integrated our systems to this app to make this user-friendly service available to the citizens.”
According to Ughade, until now, a number of people were not aware in which ward they are located and whom to contact. But now, through the 'Citizens' option, they can easily add their location or pin code and obtain information about their area. "The uniqueness about this service is that it can detect your location and give information like nearby hospitals, schools, vaccination centres, ward offices and more,” said Ughade.
He added that this is phase one of the Chatbot. "Currently the vaccine centres are linked with the Cowin portal and soon we will sync it with more systems like the BEST chalo app," Ughade said.
Through this service, citizens can easily select their location and register a complaint to the BMC and can even rate the services provided by civic authorities. "We will check the rating and make note of it. This service is currently available for garbage, solid waste, drainage and roads," Ughade said.