Young developers showcase smartphone apps to address civic issues

26/07/2017      Express Tribune      Young developers showcase smartphone apps to address civic issues


PESHAWAR: To improve service delivery across the province, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has developed a set of smartphone applications which hope to boost and solve issues with the tourism, industrial, traffic police, water and sanitation sectors. A public demonstration of the applications was held at the K-P IT Board (KPITB) incubator ‘Durshal’ on Tuesday. The apps are the result of a collaboration between the KPITB, Code for Pakistan, and the World Bank. The apps were developed by fellows hired under the six-month-long fellowship ‘K-P Civil Innovation Fellowship Programme’ in March. The programme brought together researchers, designers and developers to build the apps, increase citizen engagement, and force the government to innovate in the public service delivery sector. Advertisement Ad While the developers hoped that their applications would be implemented by the relevant departments by September this year, no officials from any of the concerned department attended the demonstration. ‘Safa Pekhawar’ With Peshawar generating around 800 to 100 tonnes of garbage every day, not all of it is properly disposed of, causing drains to be blocked while raising health issues. ‘Safa Pekhawar’ or clean Peshawar, an Android-based application, can be used by the people to register complaints about uncollected waste and other sanitary issues. “Now citizens can take photographs of garbage, water problems in the city and upload it as a complaint via the app,” said Maria Ali whose team developed the app for the Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar (WSSP). She added the complainants can also track the status of their complaints through the same application. Further, she said that complaints will be processed by the Management Information Systems administrator at the WSSP and direct the concerned authorities to assign field staff to resolve the issue. App tourism With security plaguing the tourism industry in the province, Fasihul Hasan has developed an app to attract tourists. “The app will have everything [information] available about the lush green valleys of the province, hotels reservations, tracks and transportation as well as the weather conditions of the area,” explained Hasan, as he noted that during the Eidul Fitr vacations, as many as 2.5 million people had visited scenic valleys of the province. Hasan added that the app also contains details of tourist attractions in the province as well virtual tours of desired locations which can be accessed from their phones. “It is a simple means to showcase the natural beauty of K-P so that not only locals but international visitors can also start exploring these wonderful sights,” he added. Traffic congestion For the urban commuter, a traffic jam can be their worst nightmare. Sana Firdous and her four-member team, have developed an Android-based app whereby people can check to see the traffic situation before leaving home and plan their routes accordingly. Apart from informing commuters about traffic congestion, people can also lodge complaints against any traffic violation. “Traffic police’s misbehaviour, corruption or any other injustice can now be brought to notice of higher authorities through this app,” she said. Firdous said that the app can also be used to track the progress of traffic tickets and for the traffic police to disseminate information about the different kinds of traffic signs and other public information. Record digitisation With an eye on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Nazimuddin and his team have developed an application for the Directorate of Industries and Commerce and businesses, allowing them to minimise the time and effort it takes to register any company or organisation. Explaining the workings of the app, Nazimuddin said that in the first step, a user can get the form from the Industries office to apply to open up a business. In the second step, they can submit their form along with other requisite information. Then the concerned authorities can respond with the decision on the application. “A lot of new companies will open after the CPEC which will increase the burden on industries department. In such conditions, this app, if implemented, will facilitate the citizen,” he said. Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2017. In this regard, the ECP has issued the cause list and fixed the case for orders which has been lingering since 2014. According to the ECP, the delay in the case had been because of the PTI strategy, which first raised objection to the jurisdiction of the commission and then challenged its powers in the Islamabad High Court for two times. The ECP, in its detailed judgment on the question of jurisdiction in the PTI foreign funding case, had rejected the argument that it was a past and closed transaction. “Let us assume a scenario where a political party has received prohibited funding from foreign countries, say India, for example. When such party rendered the accounts, the prohibition got omitted to be noticed. Would that omission justify the receipt of prohibited funding from India and become justified with the lapse of time?” the order read. It observed: “It is simply not imaginable; rather it becomes the bounden duty of the ECP to scrutinise either taking suo motu or on the application of somebody.” The commission said it was its responsibility under Article 218 (3) of the Constitution and the Political Parties Order, 2002, to see whether a party receiving prohibited funding should be allowed to enter the electoral arena or not. The ECP also referred to a judgment of the Supreme Court in the Ardeshir Cowasjee case in which the court had categorically held that an illegal action could not be treated as irrevocable or past or closed transaction. On the other hand, PTI has failed to submit its financial accounts. On June 7, PTI once again failed to produce the financial documents and, instead, took the plea that since a similar matter was pending before the Supreme Court, hearing should be postponed until instructions from the apex court were received. On this the CEC adjourned hearing until June 22. In the petition filed in the IHC, Imran Khan challenged the locus standi (right to speak) of Akbar S Babar who, in his application before the ECP, had questioned sources of PTI’s foreign funds. PTI has been contesting that the ECP has no jurisdiction to question the sources of its funds and Akbar S Babar, as a private person, cannot file such an application before the ECP. In his application, Akbar S Babar alleged PTI had violated Article 6 of the Political Parties Order, 2002, by collecting funds from abroad. PTI says under the PPO there is no concept of scrutiny of political parties through public at large. Earlier, this year, PTI filed a petition in the IHC, raising the question of maintainability of Babar’s complaint by the ECP, but the commission did not decide the maintainability and jurisdiction questions in clear terms. An IHC bench on Feb 15 directed the ECP to decide the matter of jurisdiction and maintainability. On May 6, the ECP decided the matters of its jurisdiction and ‘locus standi’ of Babar. According to PTI, the ECP, through its subsequent order of May 8, decided that it had jurisdiction to hear the case, but did not provide detailed reasons for the order. In the new petition before the IHC, Imran Khan made the ECP and Babar respondents. About the latter, the petition said Babar had been a PTI member since 1996, but was expelled in 2011. “Babar is a disgruntled ex-member and has personal vendetta against the party and its chairman,” it argued. The ECP, later this month, would also decide a contempt application filed against PTI chief Imran Khan for casting aspersions on the ECP in a review application of January 9. The party’s counsel took the plea that the matter was closed as the ECP had already accepted the junior lawyer’s unconditional apology. But the CEC contended his Jan 16 short order clearly stated that the respondent’s apology had not been received. Later, a short order was passed rejecting Imran Khan’s reply to the contempt application as the last chance before legal inferences are drawn on the contempt application. In its previous hearing, the ECP issued a show cause notice to Imran Khan and would frame charges against him on the next hearing. This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 16-Aug-2017