Challenges with Online Citizen Services

It is definitely a boon to see so many services to citizens available online now. One appreciates it all the more when one has spent significant number of hours waiting patiently in queues just to pay bills or submit forms. We sure have made progress, yet we have miles to go in making the process and experience of online citizen services smoother.

Here is a review of the current citizen online services available in the city I live – Belgaum.

No single source of truth
There are two corporation websites

serving similar needs, leads to ambiguity. There should always be a single source of truth to avoid confusion.

Security issues of using http
Using http for any website that accepts user inputs poses security issues, as data is sent over the internet as clear text making it easy for interception. Most of the web links in these websites accept user input over http. Not only does payment information require security, but so does information pertaining to a user’s Aadhar, Mobile No, Address etc. A website that uses https, builds confidence and trust among it’s users.

Clumsy language access:
Language access needs to be clean. Trying to accommodate both English and Kannada in the same form reduces the readability of both. Instead, there should be a button to switch completely between both languages. A Kannada language user doesn’t need to see the English option and an English language user, doesn’t need to see the Kannada options at the same time.

Issues with http://www.belgaumcity.mrc.gov.in

1. Citizen Online Services – All available options are not visible. When one tries to fit in icons in a small space, the navigation links itself get hidden and are not accessible, as shown below.

bgm1.png
* eSweekruthi
a. There needs to be more clarity on what this payment site(eSweekruthi) is used for. There is already another link for payments pertaining to Property tax etc.
b. This website accepts Aadhar, PAN No, Mobile, Bank payment on http.
c. Security concerns exist regarding the data stored on this website.

* Nirman2
a. Procedures can be explained in a more user friendly manner.
b. Broken links exist.
c. Security concerns exist regarding the data stored on this website.

* Property Tax Online Payment 
a. No direct link to property payment, but a redirection to another website. User needs to search for the property payment link again on the redirected website.
b. Doesn’t validate mobile data.
c. Security concerns exist regarding the data stored on this website.
d. Form 2 Link doesn’t show up for some entries
e. Distinction between this and eSweekruthi payment is not clear

* Lodge your Grievance – Janahitha
a. Social Media links aren’t actively maintained. Twitter link has only 2 tweets since inception and Facebook is not updated for 2 years.
b. The complaints form is not usable

  • There should be provision to auto fill Name, Address, Phone, Email etc based on the user that has logged in
  • The form should load Kannada or English separately and not both at once.
  • Entering Ward No and Street No(Block) – There should be provision to auto load this either from address or mobile GPS location.
  • Grievance Category/ Sub category can be hidden from the end user and handled automatically behind the scenes.
  • Some errors observed here:
    – Engineering has UGD water leaking/ choked listed under it,
    – Booking Park/ Community Hall -> needs better classification of data
  • No validation for fields like mobile no etc. Many people have used invalid number, so if that is allowed, then why is this a mandatory item?

c. This grievance site is an ideal candidate for replacement with a chatbot user interface

* Apply for Trade License -Vyapar 
a. Help link – Does not show any details, but downloads a file instead.
b. Service Delivery Procedure can be explained in a more user friendly manner

* Apply for Building License -Nirmana
a. The difference between Nirmana and Nirman 2 is not clear.
b. http://www.mrc.gov.in/BPA/buildinglicapply.htm – ULB doesn’t have Belgaum listed for new application
c. Service Delivery Procedure and Documents needed can be explained in a more user friendly manner.
d. Help link downloads files instead of displaying content.
e. Too many icons – Difficult to understand what each icon is
e. Site is too slow

* Apply for Water Connection – Jalanidhi
a. In case of error, cannot revert
b. Too many icons – Difficult to understand what each icon is
c. Site is too slow

* Property Tax Calculator
a. Broken Link – Shows ward details

* Birth & Death Registration 
a. Broken Link – Shows ward details
b. Security concerns exist regarding the data stored on this website.

* E-Aasthi
a. The following links under this service are not working – Property Tax, Online Services, Subregistrar Offices, Login
b. Citizen Services –
Search Properties service is available in Kannada
Loaded values -> shown on Map -> link broken, rest 2 Form 3/2 links broken
c. Reports – Only Dashboard link works, rest all 4 links -> link broken

Other Online Services available at http://www.belgaumcity.mrc.gov.in/node/243

a. How is this link different from Citizen Online Services? Seems redundant. Multiple places showing Online services leads to confusion
b. The names have no help link or tooltip
c. Links are incorrect

City Statistics
a. Wrong heading -> Other online applications
b. Broken Links -> Civic Services, 2 FAQs, Civic Amenities

Other Issues
a. Broken Links -> ENewsletter, PDL, Elected Representatives, Council Members, Comittee Members, Acts & Rules, Citizen Charter, Master Plan
b. All social media links are broken
c. Half the links under “Department” dropdown are broken

Karnataka Government Corporation websites

A quick review of the state level government citizen online services options revealed similar issues as observed at the city level.

Four different access points to Citizen Online Services from different government websites as shown below:

karOnlineService1.png  karOnlineService2

karOnlineService4

karOnlineService3

This is not only redundant, but even a change in one online service will break links at 4 different sources, leading to a maintenance nightmare.

For eg, the last link from the sakala website, has a few links broken:

transportBroken1.png

This is the latest website from the Ministry of Road Transport

transportNew1.png

transportNew2.png

These are some of the issues I face currently while accessing online services for citizens. The focus of this blog was about the pain points and the fixes needed for the same. The next blog will focus on best practices in designing websites with a solid foundation.

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