Can an app solve Ahmedabad’s illegal parking problem?

Illegal parking on the road is a very big problem for the city of Ahmedabad. Everywhere you go, you will see citizens parking their cars as they please, ignoring the challenges it creates for other people driving on the road. This is not limited to a particular area of the city and neither it is limited to a particular section of the society.

There are many ways to tackle illegal parking. Some are alternatives and some punitive. Before we pick from them, it is important to understand Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development.

It starts with ‘Infancy’ and goes all the way to ‘Adulthood’. In some cases, moral development does not develop at the same pace as age of the person. In these situations, interventions are required.

 

Citizens of Ahmedabad are unfortunately at an ‘Obedience/Punishment’ level. It basically means that the best way to get them to do the right thing is to show them that the right way is the best way to avoid punishment. In our situation of illegal car parking, we need to show them that the right thing to do is to avoid parking fines.

A slightly similar intervention is already in place in the city with people being photographed by CCTVs on crossroads and then sent fine notices for not wearing helmets or breaking traffic rules. It is not completely effective because of the small number of CCTVs and the lack of follow up on the fines. I don’t think anyone even knows what happens if you don’t pay the fines.

Proposal:

An app through which common citizens can report illegal parking. 

Why an app?

A lot of people in the city have smart phones and most of these people also have internet packs on their phones or atleast access to a wifi enabled area. It is the easiest way to give access to large section of citizens.

Why should citizens report illegal parking? 

Common citizens are the most affected by illegal parking. They are everywhere. They can help ‘crowd-source’  parking violations. Traffic policemen are limited in number and they can focus on managing the moving traffic. It reduces the dependency of the citizens on state machinery for solving their problem.

How would this system work?

Government launches an app which any citizen can download. The app allows any citizen to register and create an account. They can take a short video or a photo of a vehicle which is illegally parked, enter the registration number of the vehicle in the app and upload it all. The traffic department then reviews the upload and then sends fine notices to registered addresses if needed. The reporting citizens gets to track progress of their complaint until it gets resolved.

How would you guard against fraudulent complaints?

The traffic department would be the one deciding whether the complaint is legitimate or not. The reporting citizen can only send in evidence. If their complaint is rejected by the traffic department, they cannot over rule the decision. Currently also, traffic policemen are the only ones making this decision. This system will ensure that there is evidence attached to the complaint.

Wouldn’t this be a lot of load on the traffic department?

Actually it would reduce their work load. Their traffic policemen would now have to concentrate only managing traffic and not worry too much about illegal parking. They would need a team to approve the complaints which come through the app but that can be funded through the additional revenue that this system will generate. Reduced congestion on the road would make it easier to manage traffic as well.

Is this a one step solution to the illegal parking problem? 

No it is not. This would only work if we provide citizens with one, enough legal parking space and two, alternatives to driving on their own i.e. better public transport. Although some of the major challenges related to illegal parking would definitely be solved.

What do you think about the idea? Do you think this is the right thing to do? Do you think it would solve our city’s illegal parking problem to an extent? If not this, do you have any other solution?

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