Social media, technology are changing how housing societies are managed
Members are adopting mobile apps and accommodating modern relationships, but finding hurdles along the way too.
There’s a lot more to running a housing society today — security, GST, CCTV networks and social media. The average society is also bigger and plusher, which means more residents, staff, amenities and maintenance. While Eversweet Society in Versova is trying to figure out ways to implement modern systems for waste segregation, Usha Kiron society in Colaba is struggling to find parking space for its residents, most of whom have multiple vehicles. And Sunflower Co-operative in Kandivli is finding it hard to handle its WhatsApp group.
“I miss the days when our complex of 120 flats was like a family. Now it is more disjointed and insular. Families meet only when there is a formal meeting or a big festival,” says Rajesh Arondekar, secretary of Sunflower co-operative for over 10 years.
The best way to work in a situation like this, he says, is to go by the book. “Be it elections or issues with parking, we make sure that every rule is followed to the T, and things run smoothly,” he adds.
The book, however, is becoming too heavy, feels Rajeev Matta, secretary of Eversweet for 10 years. “We had a housing society election last year in the presence of an official from the registrar’s office. While this is a good process, it is a little cumbersome. There also a proposal to change to is now,” he says. “As someone heading a housing society, I think we should be updated with fresh ideas and aspirations of members. More people need to be involved.”
Whether or not to embrace social media is another dilemma. Matta’s management committee has a WhatsApp group where they update each other about meetings and things to be done but they are yet to set up a Facebook page. “We avoid that and prefer human interaction if anyone has a query,” he says.
Arondekar points out that they avoid social media because it can become a free-for-all and lead to conflict. “We don’t want allegations of abuse and defamation. What is the point? We may consider practical apps if need be,” he adds.
Bridging the gap
One continuing bone of contention is what kinds of tenants will be ‘encouraged’. Matta says his society has adapted to change. “We have no problem whatsoever with single men, single women or unmarried couples living on rent in the complex. Our complex is a cosmopolitan one and in case of opposition on matters like these we as a collective put our foot down,” he says.
At Usha Kiron in Colaba, live-in couples on rent are not encouraged. “Members are still not comfortable about it,” says secretary Tanya Desousa. “All communities are welcome. People from all religions live here like a family.”
The complex network
They have, however, adopted the social network with much enthusiasm. “We have a WhatsApp group for the whole complex which helps us stay connected. We post updates, news and information about the society on the group. This helps us remain in touch with members who are away for long durations,” she says.
Arondekar from Kandivli agrees that social media is helpful but he thinks that it often causes more harm than good. “We have had a bad experience two years ago with social media when a member started sending out false information about the committee because we prevented him from doing some illegal construction. There is a lot to manage to allow such confusion,” he says.
A lot of buildings now come with amenities like gym, swimming pool and CCTV networks. Though Desousa’s apartment does not have the space for bigger amenities, she has been contemplating to set up an intercom and solar panels.
But these too can be a trouble at times. Arondekar says that they pay an additional amount for the maintenance health club and intercom in their society which also needs additional staff. But some members find the cost a burden.
“People usually buy a house impressed with its facilities but soon realise that they are hardly using them. Then they don’t want to pay for it. But how can that work? Can you not pay for the lift because you stay on the first floor?”
First Published: Aug 04, 2018 17:55:25