MuCitySavior – A digital Solution for Flood Control

It has been raining for days without end in the East Indian city Bhubaneswar in the state Odisha. The seasonal monsoon is getting more unpredictable each year. The rainfalls happen less regular and are more intense when they do come. Again and again, various parts of the city suffer from floodings as the sewage system becomes clogged with waste. Aishwarya, an active citizen of Bhubaneswars, spots a drain clogged with waste in her street. Left unchecked, this obstruction of the sewage system could develop into a dangerous flooding. Therefore, she takes out her smartphone and opens the MuCitySavior App which allows her to forward both the location of the drain and the water level to the municipality. MuCitySavior means “I am the savor of the city” in the regional language Odia.

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A whole City working together to mitigate the Effects of Climate Change

Rapidly advancing urbanization and the accompanying congestion of garbage disposal systems too often leads to these kinds of floodings in India's cities. Densely populated areas are particularly threatened by the rising water levels. MuCitySavior was specifically designed to counteract this phenomenon. MuCitySavior is a digital solution that lets the citizens of affected urban areas participate in the prevention and combating of floodings. The platform was conceived and developed with the help of the citizens. This allowed to factor in and capitalize on local knowledge and expertise. At the same time, general awareness about the effects of climate change among the population was strengthened. The system behind the app that the citizens use leverages crowdsourced information to identify so-called “critical points” in the sewage and waste water system and combines them with already existing data sets from the city administrations: Statistics provided by the administrations and established hydrological characteristics of the city are being processed alongside data sets of the geographic information systems and merged into a precise and up to date map.

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The procedure allows to create a priority queue for the sewage system's cleaning calendar. This enables local officials to make decisions quickly and efficiently. Employees in the field can be guided by their managers to the next location they are needed at automatically through the app. The citizens take their role very seriously and commit themselves to the future of their home city: A total of 86.000 people participated in the pilot run of MuCitySavior in Bhubaneswar. Even students from schools and universities volunteered in the first days to help with the gathering of data. Citizens already downloaded the app more than 400 times over the course of the first week.

Flexible and future-proof Open Source Technology

Through the integrated platform MuCitySavior aids the city administration in deploying their existing financial and personnel resources efficiently and where they are needed the most. During monsoon season this approach can limit the extent of floodings and sometimes floodings can even be prevented. In the future, the data is supposed to be considered during the planning phases of infrastructure projects in order to not only make this process more climate-resilient but also allow civic participation. Therefore, citizens can be active and get creative. They will be able to participate in the development of their city and at the same time their level of awareness for the effects of climate change and their own handling of waste is going to be increased.

MuCitySavior has been awarded a prize as the best “Climate Smart Cities” project by the Indian government in 2020. The digital solution can be integrated in other interested municipalities and cities because the system was designed as open source technology. It is also incorporated in the Indian national guidelines on rainwater drainage systems.

Sector: Governance / urban development and planning / climate change
Region: India
Technology: Platform / apps / algorithm application
Project status: ongoing