Social Cops – Streamlining Change Through Technology

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I live in Hyderabad and on my way from home to market, I notice a large area filled with garbage. Everyday when I see it, my heart fills with anger because school kids play in an area very close to the garbage. And with disappointment because I am a mute spectator and not doing anything to change the situation. However,  I do not know where to go. I have no trust in the accountability of our government. I sigh and continue driving. Now, not anymore.  Here comes Social Cops, an open Web and Mobile platform where Citizens, NGOs and City Councils come together to solve civic problems around you. Runners Up  at Microsoft Imagine Cup 2012 (Singapore),  the founders of Social Cops aim to take social issues all at the same time – by involving right people in right places.

Social Cops is founded by a group of Indian students – Varun Banka, Prukalpa Sankar and Harjoben Singh from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.  Despite her busy schedule as a University student, we managed to talk to Prukalpa. Here are the excerpts of the chat:

1. When was Social Cops launched? 

Social Cops was ideated in March 2012 during the peak of the India Against Corruption movement. We were runners up in the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2012 in April with the first prototype of the application. The founders decided to make their idea a reality by focusing on on-ground implementation in August 2012. We just launched our official website on 19th October.

2.  Tell us how Social Cops plans to implement change?

Citizens initiate change. They can use their mobile phone or internet to lodge a complaint on any social issue. As they lodge the complaint, they can click a location on their map indicating the exact problem location. Social Cops is an open forum where people can collaborate, and keep track of their complaints. Citizens will be able to follow “locations” & “causes” – support problems that they are passionate about or believe requires change. NGO will have clear idea on the issues people are facing and can work at grass roots to get the things resolved.  Corporates can help implement change in 2 ways – by Sponsoring a cause and Adopting a Location. Social Cops will provide them with a monthly report on how their funds are being utilized.

 

 

3.  How do you plan to approach the government authorities that do not have social media presence yet?

We are approaching the administration with an integrated solution for them through our SocialCops@Councils platform. They will only require a computer and access to the internet to be able to view and address complaints. More information on how SocialCops@Councils works is at:   http://www.socialcops.in/council

SocialCops@Councils gives authorities (the municipal corporations, university, local societies & apartment complexes) the ability to connect with their citizens. The easy to use dashboard will allow them to view complaints in a user friendly manner as well as allow them to set reminders & forward them to the correct authorities.

4.  Tell us about the funding for Social Cops. And what are the plans for long term sustainability? 

Currently, we are crowd funded. You can help donate to Social Cops here.We believe that the money we are raising will be enough to sustain ourselves for a year. Also, we are currently looking for seed funding, grants & angel investors who believe in Social Cops and our theory of Change.

Social Cops is a not-for-profit organization. The main revenues for Social Cops will come from Our SocialCops@Corporate Programme via corporate social responsibility and community centered advertising. (http://www.socialcops.in/corporate)

5. How can one become a volunteer? What is the process?

There are three kinds of volunteer opportunities with us- 1) Campus Ambassadors : for university/college students, 2) Community Leaders: as the local teams in every city & 3) ChangeMakers: The global team of volunteers who will support from different areas – in media collaterals, PR & technology. We hope to pick a group of high caliber people who can assist with the movement in their own localities.

More information can be found here: http://www.socialcops.in/join-us

 6. If Social Cops is an independent authority, why is it mandatory for the government for respond to Social Cops? What happens if lot of Social Cops-alike independent institutions start questioning the government? We think, the government will not respond. Please share your thoughts.

We do not plan to question the government. We are not a rebellion of a social uprising. We believe that social uprisings are not sustainable in the long term. We want to create a win-win situation for all the stakeholders of the community – the government, the municipals, the NGOs, the citizens & the corporate sector. While SocialCops@Citizens allows citizens to easily report social problems & issues, on the other hand the seamless platform offered by SocialCops@Councils allows the local authorities to easily keep track of complaints and connect with the citizens in their locality. Local authorities are increasingly becoming more tech savvy, and seeking to increase communication and collaboration with citizens and we believe that Social Cops will offer them the perfect platform for the same.

Take a look at this video, encapsulating their entire philosophy :

On Women In Business

We talk with Prukalpa on how is it to be a women entrepreneur. She explains to us that there has been a very high push given by governments and women networks such as Athena & Geek Girls to promote woman entrepreneurship. This has only made it easier for her to take the plunge.

She is the single daughter of two working parents and have been brought up in a very safe, secure environment.Her father is the Unit Financial Controller of ITC Gardenia, while her mother is the Vice-President, Strategic Relationships in Educational Initiatives. Her biggest inspiration is her mother – who has always striven to excel in her career while creating social impact. “While they are skeptical about their little daughter running around the country trying to create change, they also support my decision whole heartedly. They have given me a lot of stability and strength to pursue my dreams”, she says when we ask her if her family is with her in implementing Social Cops.

Signing off, we ask her for words of wisdom for women who want to pursue entrepreneurship.

You live life only once. Live it to the fullest. My advice for women who want to pursue their dreams is simple: sort out your priorities. Everyone has different priorities. Everything you do in life should be according to your priorities. So, if pursuing your dream is more important to you than everything that is holding you back, don’t be afraid to break away from those things.

After lot of introspection on the Social Cops model, it looks very viable and the need of hour for India. Yes, there will be skeptics and it will take time to implement the solution. But, once the model starts working, we can atleast hope for some change in the much needed areas of our public life. We wish Social Cops all the best.

Social Cops Facebook: www.facebook.com/socialcops

Social Cops on Twitter: www.twitter.com/socialcops