Web of woe: City residents load lot of 'dirt' on first site for civic issues

THE INTERNET has entered a new domain: civic problems. Instead of bemoaning their fate, netizens are taking a new-age approach to their local problems, finding a lawyer who can help them or seeking expert opinion on problems such as potholes. The country's first site for "networking on social issues", streetanchor.com, is a runway hit with over 2,000 users in just three months.

A platform meant for blogs and postings on neighbourhood problems, the site nearly looks like an encyclopedia of un-addressed public woes.

Members are bombarding it with pictures and videos of almost everything amiss in their neighbourhoods: permanent potholes, streetlights left on all day in Gurgaon and monkeys playing around inside the dialysis unit of AIIMS. "The site has empanelled lawyers and NGOs to whom members can write to for help," says 30-something Kapil Dhawan, streetanchor's CEO.

Dhawan's small team, comprising co-founder Arnab Chatterjee and three others, daily monitors the piles of posts from their small office in Gurgaon's Udyog Vihar. "It has caught on because Delhiites are never passive," says Chatterjee. The site has 93 videos at present. In one of these, Right to Information (RTI) activist Arvind Kejriwal walks visitors through the entire process of filing an RTI application.

In another, monkeys are seen scrambling around in the dialysis unit of AIIMS, a video played up on prime time by a leading news channel. The result: the authorities reacted and rid the crucial medical facility of monkeys. Blogs on civic issues are a rarity. Online communities are mostly about networking. The New York Times's top areas on blogging include theatre, travel, arts, automobiles and books, for example. Dhawan says streetanchor fills up that vacuum.

Enthused with the response, streetanchor, a wholly self-funded venture, is now weighing various revenue models. One of them is tying up with media houses to provide content on social issues and then sharing it with bloggers.

"The site," says Dhawan, "is still not a replica of our vision and we are working towards constantly expanding and pushing our limits".

Web of woe: City residents load lot of 'dirt' on first site for civic issues - Yahoo! India News