The current system in Bangalore – splitting the city into multiple wards with a BBMP office in each ward works very well in terms of distributing the span of control. I believe that competition helps improve performance. Usain Bolt would not be training hard and running at his peak if he were not challenged by his competitors. Even in the corporate world, competition breeds innovation and superior performance. Google out-thought Microsoft in the early 2000s much like Microsoft out thought its competition in the 1980s and 90s. The challenge in our case study is to inculcate a feeling of pride and competition between the BBMP wards.
Taking off from the gamification example in my previous blog post, I think that BBMP wards should be players in a different sort of game. One in which they are graded on their key performance indicators and this system should be visible to all citizens. Each ward in-charge is accountable for the results that his ward generates. The players who are the BBMP ward officers, earn points for every task that is completed on time. For example, much like the simulation games such as Caesar3 or SimCity, each ward has a set amount of points against various tasks such as garbage collection, road maintenance, upkeep of the general area, etc. When the garbage is not collected in a certain area under the ward’s jurisdiction for a few days, the area begins to stink and the player is penalized – he gets alerts indicating the poor performance. He/ she can see other players as well and compare himself in real time against the performance of other players in the game. If an area such as Jayanagar is doing well – the revenues it is generating and allocated are being used judiciously, it automatically means that the player there is doing well for himself. Such players earn the chance at a promotion, thus providing extrinsic motivation for the Ward commissioners to be committed towards improvement.
Since each ward is allocated X amount of funds towards developmental activities, the system can easily keep track of where the money is being spent. The player decides how the money is to be spent across various activities including road building, maintenance of parks, payment of salaries if applicable, etc. A game administrator makes a tour of the ward areas and penalizes the player for poor or shoddy work. For example, if a road is maintained poorly, the ward has to pay a penalty of X points (rupees). This affects their funding for the following fiscal year. The idea here is to bring in transparency and accountability to the functioning of the BBMP.
This system can be easily replicated across various other Government bodies in a slightly different way. By encouraging competition between the wards in a game-like environment, it makes the system more interesting for the players and can motivate them intrinsically while providing much needed accountability.