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About Us

 

City Connect is a collaborative platform catalyzed by Business for Civil Society and Government to work together to make cities more liveable.

Our cities face similar problems across the country - traffic, water shortage, pollution, garbage etc. The solution set is reasonably well known. What is needed is local initiative to make it happen. The idea of City Connect is enable this partnership across various urban stakeholders: Industry, Citizens, Government, NGOs, Resident Welfare Associations, etc. 

 

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Context:

Increasingly, the urban quality of life is under stress given rapid growth affecting all sections of society.  Ad hoc approaches to fix immediate problems have not yielded lasting results and the city problems continue to fester. It is realized that if the city does not work, local businesses will suffer. Consequently business entities need to find ways to engage with the subject of urban governance – it is as integral to the business profitability as focusing on talent, raw material and processes. Further, the initiative needs to be inclusive - benefits for all citizens.

Any city needs to work for all its citizens, more so for the urban poor and under privileged sections of society. For what chance of the middle class dream to materialize if maids, drivers, vegetable vendors, garbage handlers and more do not make it on time day after day. Spare a thought for their lives and you will see the need to put them at the centre of city planning. Priorities will gravitate towards drinking water, clean sanitation, safe pedestrian walkways, reliable public transport, low cost housing, land title issues, street lighting, waste management, local culture, etc. All of these are the basic building blocks of a livable city. 

Private industry and Government is keen that cities improve and their appeal as an investment destination is maintained. They desire improvement in physical infrastructure and social indicators. Private industry is often willing to engage with the government (political, administrative) provided a suitable platform can be crafted. The proposed City Connect platform catalyzed by CII under its ‘India@75’ urbanization initiative is a suggested response to this issue. 

Stakeholders:
 

The City Connect platform has scope for the following members:

  • Companies: They take the lead in setting up the platform and also arrange to fund the monthly requirements through sponsors. This fund is required to bring in urban professionals to address the myriad city issues and work on projects identified in conjunction with political and administrative government leaders.
  • Industry associations:  Interested associations can be part of the platform. While CII under India@75 is taking the lead to make it happen, the platform is an inclusive one for all associations to come together on city issues.
  • Community service groups:  NGOs (Particularly those involved in urban issues and with pro-poor focus), Resident welfare associations, Social clubs like Rotary, Lions, etc.
  • Educational institutions:  Schools and colleges. 
 
The City Connect model works if the government agencies believe in a collective approach to problem solving and give bodies like City Connect a space to operate collaboratively. They must also be willing to scale the solutions provided by the platform. The City Connect platform in return must be willing to ideate, angel fund proof of concept, designs and bring in volunteer energy to projects.  
 
Working Model:
 
A core group of committed members from industry (4-7) set up a City Connect Foundation as a non-profit trust. These will be the founding trustees with statutory responsibilities. They are expected to have a long term commitment to the idea. Given the magnitude of the task at hand a decade’s commitment to stay with the overarching goals to fix a city is desirable. The City Connect Foundation can have its members drawn from Industry, Industry associations, Community service organizations, Educational institutions and Individuals. To be a member, they need to subscribe to the City Connect charter and pay the requisite membership fees. The City Connect platform is not a channel to criticise government - individuals can do so in their personal capacity but not using the aegis of the platform.
 
An Executive Council can be set up based on the areas on which the platform wishes to focus. This could have 1-2 conveners for each area based on local priorities (eg. Traffic; Public Transport; Pedestrians; Solid waste; Funding & membership, Project management, etc). Only active members shoudl be on the Executive Council.
 
The City Connect Foundation will be funded by donations and membership fees. These funds will be used to hire urban professionals or the services of technical design and consulting firms for specific projects decided by the Foundation in conjunction with Government. The City Connect platform is enabled by an urban professional team who are hired for working on City Connect initiatives. They can be supported by volunteers from companies / citizens who wish to work on specific projects – for example architect firms might volunteer resources for design. 
 
This platform (members, paid resources and volunteers) works with government agencies on city projects that are jointly identified and agreed upon.

Typically the City Connect spending is restricted to pilot projects, proof of concept and providing designs. The serious spending on identified and designed projects is to be done by the Government authorities.