Cars converted to submarines, houses getting submerged and homeowners counting the cost of destroyed properties, floods during the rainy season are always filled with bitter tales in Lagos.
To mitigate environmental disasters, the Lagos state government is introducing an app through which citizens can report and monitor environmental problems such as blocked drainages and illegal disposal of waste that are among major causes of the heavy floods in the city.
Called ‘CitiMonitor’, the app was unveiled on Sunday by the Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr Tunji Bello. According to him, the CitiMonitor Application and Enterprise Environmental Monitoring Infrastructure Information System will track and report environmental infractions in the state.
The App allows citizens/residents to monitor and report their environmental infractions/issues/complaints in a digital format with pictures and video clips for responsive actions
Before now, the state government had waste police that made rounds to check the environmental condition of the state. However, their reach was limited.
With the new app, the government will be able to cover more ground as residents of each area can serve as agents giving real-time conditions of environments across the country.
“This app will maximise the reach of the government using the large population of Lagos; it will help us to better report the state of the environment from blockage of our canals to indiscriminate waste dumping and every other infraction.”
Bello encouraged residents to take up ownership of their environment by downloading the app and becoming reporters. “I want to encourage residents to avail themselves of the opportunity of downloading the application as it will help them to take ownership of the environment of the state as the citizens are the primary custodians,”
All you need to know about ‘CitiMonitor’
At 10Mb on Playstore and 30Mb on iOS, the CitiMonitor app is easy to download. According to the store, the app was apparently developed by a company named Solab and its latest update was July 25.
Solab has also developed another app called Engage, it’s intro says its an event app
You can signup with an email or a Google account. The app requests access to notification and location for environmental updates as part of the sign up process. To make a complaint, simply click on the plus icon and you can choose to add a picture or video.
There are several categories of environmental problems you can report. They range from social disturbance and construction left over to waste dump and natural disasters.
Add the location, the local government area and any extra information you want to add and select ‘next’ to make a complaint.
Complaints can be made anonymously
I ran into issues adding location so my complaint wasn’t delivered. Aside from the few glitches with the location, the look and navigation of the app were alright.
Mr Ayodeji Faniran, the software developer of the app confirmed that the app was configured to capture real-time images within the Lagos metropolis only.
“You cannot upload pictures from your gallery, you cannot submit pictures from other parts of the country or the world, only pictures from Lagos state can be submitted, and once you click the picture anywhere in Lagos state, it’s going to have the time stamp and the location.”
Once an infraction has been lodged, a representative from the Lagos State Government, Ministry of Environment and Water Resources will address the infraction.
Progress and updates on the infraction can be tracked on the app.
A workable solution
The introduction of a digital means to report environmental problems is a step in the right direction. It removes the laborious process of manual feedback and makes it easier for the government to coordinate solutions to problems quickly.
The fact that the app depends on citizens to be digitally savvy to be successful may have presented a problem in other states but not in Lagos.
Africa’s most populous city is also the digital capital of Nigeria with millions of mobile subscribers and thousands of tech startups.
Of the 204 million mobile subscribers in Nigeria, Lagos accounts for about 24.88 million voice and 18.94 million internet subscribers, the highest number for any state in the federation.
Similarly, in terms of tech adoption, the city is amongst the highest, not just in Nigeria but in the whole of Africa. According to StartupBlink Ecosystem Index Report 2021, Lagos is Africa’s top startup ecosystem.
Currently, CitiMonitor has over 100 downloads but with over 24 million potential users, the app could tap into a larger market that can make its solution a success.
The new environmental monitoring app falls in line with the Lagos state government’s plan to turn Nigeria’s economic capital into a smart city.
However, the government needs to work on sensitisation and adoptions of the app by residents if the goal of a greener Lagos is to be achieved.
In the long run, a conscious effort to solve many of the cities environmental challenges will go a long way in reducing floods in Lagos.
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