Uskudar Municipality

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Üsküdar’s population is 532.182 people. Uskudar municipality is in direct contact with 35% of the total population. Number of people voluntarily showing up to the municipality to pay tax or declare any request, complaint or proposal was around 40.000. The remaining part of the population had no contact with our municipality due to various reasons: Those prejudiced against the organization, those not already expecting any good progress in the process, those with no idea about municipal services, those not aware of the services performed, the opponents perceiving the management as merely the representative of the political party leading to the underestimation of services, and those with potential positive contributions to the municipal management yet failing to find an official address constituted the remaining major part. Such audiences turned into an offended community resentful against the organization over the time. It was a mystery how citizens were satisfied with the municipal services, and what part of the overall population was represented by such satisfied audience. Each neighbourhood has its own specific characteristics and issues. Prior to the initiative, no social texture analysis was available for the neighbourhoods. Therefore, an investment proposed for a specific neighbourhood had to consider the whole Üsküdar profile. It was not possible to customize the general services. While shaping the initiatives; the opinions and expectations of locals residing in such neighbourhoods, daily walking round the district to go to their work and seeking to transform their area into high-class living spaces were being ignored. A wide range of infrastructural services were simply what the municipality offered to people. Beyond that, there was no socially-toned practice making the citizens feel privileged. Whether the public will could be reflected to the management, whether the barriers blocking the participatory democracy were to be removed, and to what extent services were equally offered to all individuals regardless of their gender, age, origin and faith without any social, economical and political discrimination and any physical or mental handicap could not be identified. It was impossible to know about what an individual Üsküdar citizen was thinking, in what conditions he was living and if he had any complaint, request or suggestion unless he principally reported it. The citizens' awareness in urbanism could not be gauged, and whether they know about the initiatives implemented was unknown. The core reason underlying the launch of our initiative was to access the whole population and build face-to-face contacts with each citizen. With this initiative, the Üsküdar Municipality is set to bring the service to the door of every citizen. We talk with and ask after citizens as accompanied with a cup of coffee. We discuss the issues of our city together, and create solution proposals collectively. For this reason, our initiative is not exclusive to a specific community or a social group, but embodies each and every Üsküdar citizen. While the citizen we visit can be a illiterate low-incomer, we can face a businessman, an artist or a politician on the next door.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Vice mayor, Hasan Ekmen, designed the initiative in an effort to remove the barriers hindering active involvement of citizens in local administrations, and to involve the opinion of each citizen in the management process. What Mr. Ekmen pursues is to keep up the initiative until each street is visited, each door is knocked and each citizen is asked after in the district of Üsküdar. Researches have been made to develop efficient solutions for issues. Besides exemplary private sector practices offering customized services to its customers, a plenitude of local administrative practices offering customized services have been explored. Citizens, NGOs, Directorates of National Education, Civil Registry Offices, neighbourhood Administration Offices registered with municipal divisions and records of electors retained by the Supreme Election Board have been examined to match data for each citizen and migrate all information into a single central database. In this process, a set of opinion exchanges have been staged with globally recognized companies for the most appropriate database software. A young and dynamic team has been built to achieve the intended target in our district hosting a dense population. 26 professionals making up the The Üsküdar Field Communication Team (USIP) has been chosen among university graduates with degree in public relations, sociology and psychology. During the initiative set-up, the team members have received organizational and technical trainings besides personal development programs. • Trainings for successful customer contact and customer satisfaction (trainings on ways to build proper and effective communication with citizens have been received) • Trainings for occupational health and safety (trainings have been delivered to both employees and employers to structure working conditions of employees at international occupational health standards) • Team-mate trainings (trainings have been received on the basics of being an ideal team) • First-aid trainings (trainings have been received on immediate interventions against any adverse condition breaking out in the field) • Sign language and English language trainings (received for the sake of building proper communication with handicapped and/or foreign-origin citizens) • Quite extensive trainings such as trainings for corporate culture, customer experience management and quality management system have been received and are being regularly applied. • Field trips to familiarize the municipality and the district as well as introductory trainings on municipal services and actions of the mayor have been held. We have analysed the district locals, and explored the audience identified as resentful to the municipality, culminating in the finding that the citizens need to be heard and understood. Myriad of field surveys have been launched to figure out the satisfaction of district people with municipal services. Hence, it has been identified how accessible these services have been for what age group, gender, occupational group, etc. Contact points that would enable to reach citizens have been established to boost loyalty to the organization and consolidate mutual communication. There are 125.000 houses in Üsküdar. An initiative has been developed to visit the district by neighbourhoods; accordingly a visit plan has been built for 33 neighbourhoods covered by Üsküdar. Forms enabling to make analyses by raising comfortable and non time-consuming questions have been created. The questionnaire so finalized has been loaded on tablets in software form by our IT specialists. Our intent behind all these arrangements is to; • Consider the opinions and expectations of each Üsküdar citizen to involve them in administration. • Raise awareness that they are the real owner of the city • Build up an effective communication between the organization and the citizen, create a synergy, exchange and enhance the knowledge, and strengthen the culture of collaboration. • Raise the level of awareness, and accordingly brush off the prejudice.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
We bring the service directly up to the door of underprivileged citizens that are incapable of effectively using mass transport for access to municipal services, that have limited technological possibilities or that are unable to reserve time due to busy work traffic. And it is the Turkish culture that inspires us in realizing these all. We dialogue with the citizens in a coffee chat, record what they want to tell to the organization, and reflect this feedback to the system at the same level of transparency. We are capable of forwarding the issues they would like to convey together with photographs and video recordings instantly to the relevant directorate as a request. In other words, we identify the issues in-situ and immediately engage the mechanisms for solution. The ambition of the action is to offer "customized service" to the entire population of 532.182 citizens. The data mining method that would help us achieve this ambition is a maiden practice in the public sector. The initiative is featured by the ISO 9001 Quality Management System Certificate to warrant that the demands and expectations of citizens are properly addressed. Besides this we have ISO 10002 - Customer Satisfaction Management System Quality Certificate.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The UCIRM scheme is the new PR initiative directly contacting with the citizens of Üsküdar where people are immediately heard by the authority, sensitive values are cared for and a new service approach is built upon this foundation. Based on these sensitivities, all major transformations throughout human life cycle have been examined and each factor that would socially and culturally impact the happiness, health, education, security and living environment of the people has separately been assessed. As a result of these assessments, contact points ensuring consistent interaction with citizens from the moment of birth to death have been identified. The initiative has been launched on May 1, 2012 until October 1, 2013; 72.635 Uskudar citizens have been visited on site, and 38.152 people have been contacted face to face. 3.700 Roses and Letters: During the initial year of their marriage, 3.700 couples have been visited at home and greeted with rose. A specialist letter including the regards of our Mayor and pearls of wisdom for a long-lasting, happy and peaceful marriage have been presented, After home visits, 1.800 families declaring their desire to take their children to theatre have been gifted with tickets to a children's theatre play. We organized the personalized submission of 1.550 movie tickets to movie lovers declaring their desire to go to cinema with their family. We have presented books directly published in our organization to 1.150 citizens declaring their interest in books during home visits. We have organized a yacht trip to 1.180 persons that could not enjoy the Bosporus joy so far despite residing in Üsküdar to experience the full natural and historical thrill of Istanbul. We have submitted congrats letter to 1.989 artisans that have started a business in Üsküdar to convey wishes for utmost profit and fruitful business. We have submitted our mayor's congrats letter to 12.000 Grade 1 students (as identified through the data mining method) newly starting their study. We have submitted a welcome letter to 2.856 new inhabitants of Üsküdar, describing which culture centre, information house, sports complex, health centre and public buildings are located in their neighbourhood. We have sent SMS/email messages to inhabitants of the neighbourhood, for which infrastructural and superstructural works are scheduled, on the start and completion date of such works. We have photographed 11.848 demands through on-situ demand mapping system during home visits, and instantly forwarded them to relevant directorates. As addressing such demands on-site ensures to create reasonable solutions soon and speed up the process, we could get higher rates of satisfied feedbacks. Again thanks to this process, the Newborn Greeting Team has paid congrats visits to 4.632 parents, and welcome visits to 2.316 infants honouring Uskudar. As a commitment of standing by each and every Uskudar citizen during good and bad time from the moment of birth until death, the condolence team has supported and does keep supporting 2.009 heart-stricken families in consideration of their actual requirements. 21.455 Greeting Messages and Emails: Special occasions of Uskudar citizens as well as the employees of the Uskudar Municipality have been tracked and greeted through the CIRM system. While the poor and the destitute living in the district has effectively been addressed, relevant bodies have been mobilized to enhance the wealth of such people. The old, handicapped and needers requiring care as well as the relatives to the handicapped have been informed on social rights they are entitled to as well as the liabilities they are exempt from. Housewives crafting hand-made products have been allowed with the opportunity to sell their products and benefit from municipality-sponsored initiatives.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Flourished along the idea of driving a more effective civil involvement in the management of the district of residence, the CIRM initiative has been designed by Mr. Hasan Ekmen, Vice Mayor of Uskudar, and entrusted to Mrs. Türkan Bilim for coordination and enhancement. All these efforts are run in a coordinated fashion at municipal directorates, offices and municipal culture centres, rehabilitation centres, gyms, information houses, soup kitchens, animal houses, and centres contributing to female labour. Primary stakeholders for Uskudar municipality setting the whole district as its target audience (532.182 citizens) is the entire Uskudar population. Other public institutions (electricity, water and sewer, natural gas, healthcare, employment agencies, etc.) represent other major stakeholders. Changes occurring in the life cycle of citizens should regularly and permanently be updated. Non-governmental organizations, political parties with which citizens’ affiliate, workplaces of citizens, civil registries, schools and hospitals serve as resource to such updates. Thanks to official contacts built with these entities, any change can promptly be integrated into our system, and these institutions maintain their critical standing in our spectrum of stakeholders. Suppliers of press materials presented to citizens as part of customized services, and contractors organizing and holding social and cultural events represent other major stakeholders. The software company developing our database, research companies that regularly report the process and provide consultancy service, and auditors following up ISO and occupational safety standards for our organization are the other prominent stakeholders.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Budget calculations were made during the design of the initiative, and accordingly investments were assigned to the following items for smooth execution of the initiative; Technical infrastructure, hardware and stationery expenditures; Research expenditures, software cost of the initiative, procurement of tablets to be employed during the initiative, mobile phones for inter-team communication, physical project setting for office processes, computers, office phones, printers and photocopiers, archive materials and any and all stationery. Consultancy services; consultancy services procured to guarantee that actions are run in line with international standards, consultancy services procured from agencies specialized in field services, survey and assessment, Staffing expenditures; new recruitments, technical and personal development trainings for employees, procurement of motivation-boosting events and organizations, procurement of vehicle for field services, fuel and service costs of the vehicle, organizational attire and other organizational materials. Courier and gift expenditures; In customized deliveries, cinema, theatre ticket expenses, courier costs associated with celebration for business start-ups, school letters of achievement, welcome to our district letters; coffee and a couple of cup sets gifted to the citizens visited, baby's care and garment costs. Transport expenses; expenditures associated with supplies gifted to citizens by field teams delivering celebrations, condolences and roses, costs of vehicles used in the process and other ancillary expenditures. Press Expenditures; delivery of municipal periodicals and non-periodicals to citizens, introductory brochures for municipal services and cultural and social events, monthly newspaper publications. Each title above represents the resources employed as well. For efficient and effective utilization of the resources, subtotals for each budget item have been calculated after setting up the general budget. Project is funded by municipal resources. Municipal income consists of citizen taxes. Citizens' incomes are recycled into impressive services dedicated to them.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The citizen's demand and expectation of each citizen interviewed has individually been considered. What additions to or removals from their neighbourhood, even their streets of residence would please them have been identified directly through their own statements. İ nitiative allows us to deliver the service right up to the door the citizen after hearing him in his own world without exposing him to the distressing bureaucracy. Without any discrimination between citizens visited, we have put each and every idea into play promptly for the sake of building the happy city of the future. This has culminated in a wealthy texture analysis for the district locals. We could be in close acquaintance with the people we serve. While clearly revealing the demographics, we could clearly get the ownership status, financial possibilities, educational background, gender distribution, breakdown of children and young throughout the district, and occupational status of citizens. These outputs constituted the score card of each neighbourhood. Thanks to these score cards, various findings about migrations throughout the neighbourhoods, licensing process in workplaces and their impacts in district economy, and unemployment facts could, for the first time, be identified so clearly. Awareness in being a city inhabitant has been promoted. Channels where joint solutions are devised to exhibit city-specific individual attitudes and behaviours have been created. Meetings mobilizing various social communities (recovery of waste oils, waste batteries into national economy discussed during house meetings of housewives) have been held. Emphasizing how critical the ideas of citizens are in reshaping the city and setting management processes have nurtured the sense of belonging to city. Opinions have been acquired from citizens on projects socially discussed. Driven by this awareness; communication channels highlighting involvement, pluralism and tolerance have been developed where national will is in the background with further integration of distinctive opinions into the management process. Different social groups being member to NGOs have been brought together in various organizations. Our project has been catching a gigantic interest from the very beginning of its inauguration. When citizens have told about the practices to their friends or relatives in other districts or provinces, such people have started to expect the same service from their municipalities, leading to the growing appearance of institutions asking to visit for learning about the methodology of the initiative. Acting across the motto "knowledge grows when shared", we have supplied information in good faith to each requesting body.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
According to existing conventional public practices, citizens communicate their demands by directly visiting the municipality. The CIRM project is setting a precedent in the public sector so that all services are now principally delivered to the citizen. We employ the Social Texture Analysis Form to identify the addressees and methods of these service items. In this form, every detail of households besides personal data is recorded. The solution process for citizens communicating their demands in addition to this data is swiftly kicked off through customized methods built. All variables defined as requirement in the life cycle can be the subject of "customized municipal service", and such variables may be augmented and varied. The data mining method is being employed to implement customized municipal servicing. Thanks to this method, target service items and addressees can clearly be identified from a wide array of data. For instance, it is currently impossible to identify the number of people who are i) at the age of 40-60, ii) physicians, iii) residing at the neighbourhood of Acıbadem, and iv) willing to get notified by email of Classical Music concerts.And people involved in the table yielded by this system will start getting customized services. Citizens pointing to the same issue constitute a natural public opinion in terms of the concentration and breakdown in their streets and neighbourhoods as well as the finalization of their request. Accordingly, a visit to a neighbourhood has revealed the following findings. A paving work on a steep street last year led to the complaint and dissatisfaction throughout the neighbourhood, particularly raised by 55% of citizens who are vehicle owners. The paving method employed was to lay cobblestones. However, this was posing the risk for the vehicle to slip in winter, and expand and displace in summer, constituting threat for other vehicles and pedestrians. In the traditional system, the complaining citizen is expected to visit the municipality to report his complaint. Upon the visits of the USIP team to the neighbourhood concerned, the issue was pinpointed on site and photographed. And this led to the conclusion that such paving work was not suitable for the steep street, triggering a new action to offer a suitable solution to the citizens. On that sense, USIP is the municipal eye on the street.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
As the municipal management represents a specific political identity, visits to citizens of opposing view have appeared as an obstacle. It has been emphasized that the initiative is not a transient election-focussed practice and that it is free of political concerns, and the nature of the initiative has clearly been described. No stage of the initiative includes any political commitment. As visiting citizens on site is an unprecedented initiative, some segments have expressed their concern for security surrounding it. Action was taken to infill confidence by issuing customized ID cards for the staff, distributing written information and documents stressing the corporate nature of the initiative, hanging introductory banners on the streets to be visited by the staff, and making public SMS and email disclosures. Team-mate spirit, motivation of the field team, potential of any drawback in service to slow down or halt the initiative individually constitute the risk factors. Motivating programs and trips have been launched for the sake of avoiding or minimizing them, and trainings have been received on the requirements of being a team and on personal development. For these efforts, the field team has identified itself as the Üsküdar Field Communication Professionals (USIP), and created its own logo. Finding nobody in home visits represents a functional obstacle for us. It’s not possible to reach the working class during weekday visits. To overcome this trouble, revisits are paid at reasonable times on Saturdays. Another issue is to update the details of citizens registered with the UCIRM system. Changes throughout the life cycle of citizens should be reflected to the system. For such cases that may serve as barriers to our efficient work, joint systems and cooperation have been developed upon formal contacts with appropriate agencies retaining citizen data. Such sorts of changes are regularly updated in our system.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
With the launch of our initiative, the service level has been upgraded. The UCIRM scheme is a modern PR project that fades away all conventional practices in the minds of citizens. No any other method enabling to build a sincerer and warmer dialogue with the citizen and proving to be effective exists. We implement the most transparent communication form staged at the own location of the citizen without placing any burden on the latter. Hence, all negative opinions on public are switching to the positive side... At least one person has been interviewed at each house visited. 38.152 houses have been visited so far. Assuming that each house hosts four households, 152.608 people have been reached so far. We prioritize communication with all households during the interviews. The Turkish family layout is traditionally characterized with an extended family concept. Our culture cropping extensive ties between relatives fosters social exchange as well. On that sense, the influence of a visit paid to a family translates into a motive of sharing it with the relatives of households, discussing it and telling about what's been learned. During Ramadan, lasting for one month each year, our municipality holds various events. In these events, long tables are set up on the streets, inviting Üsküdar citizens residing in that neighbourhood to dinner. The district locals that hosted us at their homes during these events enabling them to get more familiar with their neighbours, flourishing their dialogues and buttressing the communication between the organization and citizen become our guests this time. Once the citizens see their visitors in such events, their sense of confidence and belonging is consolidated, and feel the privilege of being represented before a public agency by a person whom they have got to know. As an instance to a positive impact of our initiative, in a visit, we learned that a citizen diagnosed with severe Mood Disorder and currently undergoing treatment loves sports too much, yet had to give up karate due to financial constraints. Once the appropriate record was created on the CIRM system, the process ended up with enrolling him free of charge in a municipal gym. Financed by our municipality for his transport and sports supplies, he is now the owner of the ultimate black belt. If we had not visited him at home, it would probably take longer time or be maybe impossible, for him to enjoy this achievement. Hence, identifying the demands of disadvantageous class on site and reintegrating them into the social life are the most critical benefits of our initiative. Again, the incident where flooding in the ground floor of the building inhabited by a family that we heard, again in a visit, to be expecting a baby in a week means two cases requiring assessment for us. Request for the evacuation of water recorded on tablets is immediately reported to the relevant directorate for solution. This report is strictly accompanied by the photographs of the issue taken under safety measures. Hence, it is ensured that the incoming municipal team has the necessary tools and equipment. This ensures correct intervention while avoiding lost time. On the other hand, an alarm mechanism is activated on the CIRM system for the expected baby. After two weeks following the birth, the family is called to get an appointment. The newborn greeting team visits the family as accompanied with the gifts supplying primary necessaries. The gift pack prepared contains garment and healthcare supplies as urgent needs of the baby together with a pedagogic handbook elaborated by specialists. The citizen so registered with the system will now be monitored by the CIRM team. Notices on our municipal events will be submitted to the family through means of communication preferred and reported by the family to keep them updated of any and all changes introduced in municipal services. Based on the family's feedback, customized municipal service will be put into play; hence major changes in their life cycle such as birthdays, marriage anniversaries, promotions, deaths, etc. will be tracked. Thanks to the initiative, we will stand by the citizen every time from the moment of birth to death in the manner subject to his discretion.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
532.182 citizens live in Üsküdar with 50% of the population accounted for by the young. Each situation typically standing as a necessity in the citizen's life cycle is transformed in the course of time, and such transformations require a tailored service. Standing by, as an organizational identity, a couple at the time of having their first baby, unemployment, education of their children, retirement, death and other painful experiences as well as celebrating their marriage is a requirement for the organizational sustainability of our project. Cultural and artistic events are relevant for all individuals and may not be considered as a piece of action exclusive to elite and privileged groups. Adapting audiences coping with social exclusion, isolation, fear and lower standards to social life through cultural activities also tally with our efforts to effectively identify them. We have specially prepared customized tickets for events which people we have visited at their home declared their interest in participating, or identified as a requirement for them, and these consolidate the sense of feeling important while offering the opportunity to freely get involved in an activity they are devoid of. With our project, we will bring together distinctive social groups, hold events, also guarantee accessibility to the same, representing an inevitable facade of cultural sustainability. For this reason, sustaining our project for the sake of co-existence with citizens, sharing, integration and being an active and genuine member of the society has become culturally inevitable. Citizen reports besides shortcomings detected during field trips by the team serve to build, strengthen and convey to future generations the environmental sensitivity. A citizen demanding a training on damages to be exerted by the release of domestic waste oils to the nature, and on safe disposal of such oils has declared his interest in an organization that would bring together housewives. Such demand has thereafter been reviewed by the municipality and culminated in a training covering 32.000 children and 2.500 mothers in 2012. The initiative has created a tremendous impression since the date it was launched, and been visited by the representatives of various public and private institutions. Discussed in international panels, our initiative was recognized as the Best Public Relations Initiative by the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) this year and honoured with the Golden Globe Award. We have set a benchmark standard for the extent of customer-oriented services and actions towards increased satisfaction. Now, many municipalities implement their "customized municipal services" through the inspiration originating from us, and compete to demonstrate the same level of standards in their own districts. The UCIRM scheme can be implemented in all national / international organizations and agencies aimed at offering customized services to those seeking to get an understanding of the target audience, and aspired to incorporate more ideas in administration in favour of serving to the pluralistic democracy. Because, regardless of where he lives, each citizen needs to be understood, and this is the same for everywhere

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Cities are no more administered by traditional methods reducing urban issues merely down to financial mechanism and infrastructural problems. Practices of the central government and private sector bringing about awareness and satisfying the respective target audience are also handled by local governments. The CIRM project is fully the crop of this consequence. Since individual development is the most critical item in the socio-economic development plans and city management, varying demands of individuals throughout their life cyle should be taken into consideration. The project's philosophy "necessary decisions should be made today for the sake of a liveable, tuneful, nice and healthy city of the future" has been adopted as a strategic principle. Adverse conditions prevailing in our district have triggered us to review today's concepts of city and residence. And for such review, the collaboration of the whole community including citizens, administrators, politicians and public servants has been sought before departing. Because we are aware of the fact that, procurement and dignity of social, physical and sentimental requirements owe to the mutual dialogue between all members of the official administration and city community. We have examined the services of statesmen attempting to figure out the condition of citizens by visiting them at home. And we have synthesized this inspiration inherited to us with global principles fully satisfying the conditions and requirements of today's world. Public is the partner of the elected in decisions taken to manage and plan the society. Therefore, on the strength of this entitlement, they should be notified of any decision taken. All initiatives that would impact the city's surrounding, and therefore the locals there should be open to review and inspection by urban administrators, claimants and all people. Accordingly, while asking after district locals and also asking for their opinion through on house visits, the initiative has started to build a sense of responsibility towards the city together with a citizen profile characterized with inquiring, demanding, clearly expressing preferences, being at peace with city's history, cultural and moral assets, and sense of belonging to the city. If you please a person, everyone is happy. A public agency willing to please its citizens should serve along this perspective. The quality of the service and how satisfied the citizen is should be gauged. Our staff should consist of competent employees willing to serve and satisfied with their work. Each positive/negative feedback provided by the citizen should strictly be addressed. Means of communication should be enhanced and prioritized, allowing citizens to use the channels they prefer. In a sequence, esteem would lead to communication, to properly hearing and understanding each other, to reconciliation, and eventually to hope for future.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Uskudar Municipality
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Turkan Bilim İsayev
Title:   Coordinator of UCIRM  
Telephone/ Fax:   +902165313000/+902165313103
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   tbilim@uskudar.bel.tr  
Address:   Mimar Sinan mah. Hakimiyeti Milliye cad.No:35
Postal Code:   34672
City:   Uskudar
State/Province:   Istanbul

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