Hangzhou village earns good neighbor points
One villager offered 600 rewards points for any information over a ginger cat's whereabouts. "Missing for two days. Lost near footbridge. Contact me if you see it or have information." A photo, in which the cat lay yawning while bathing under the sun, was attached to the message.
Another wish to exchange 300 points for two COVID-19 test kits. "Afraid that I am positive. Alone at home and dare not venture outside. Can someone bring me two test kits and place them outside Room 691?"
These were posted on an online forum by villagers from Meilin village, a futurist rural community in east of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, where the strawberry fields are equipped with solar-powered surveillance cameras to track their growth status. Users log onto the forum via an account shared by members of their family.
Visitors look at photos on display at an exhibition in Meilin village, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province on June 7, 2023. [Photo by Zhang Wei/chinadaily.com.cn]
The forum is part of a broader go-digital push by authorities in Hangzhou to make grassroots governance more efficient.
Villagers can earn rewards points by carefully sorting their garbage, offering voluntary service, or simply lending a helping hand to their neighbors. The credits can be used to exchange for items ranging from toilet paper to cooking oil, and can also be used as a reward when they want help.
Kong Gaomin, the village's Party chief, said the points-for-help function is just part of what the forum has to offer.
A photo shows tourists waiting inside a tour vehicle in front of a service center in Meilin village, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province on June 7, 2023. [Photo by Zhang Wei/chinadaily.com.cn]
"Villagers can also lodge complaints or give suggestions," she said.
On the receiving end was a giant screen in the villager's hall, which Kong referred to as "digital cockpit".
"When we see the complaints, we can quickly send someone to deal with it," she added.
A nurse works at the front desk of the integrated clicnic for chronic diseases in Meilin village, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province on June 7, 2023. [Photo by Zhang Wei/chinadaily.com.cn]
Rolling on the screen, a message says that a road light is out of service, and another appears alerting village officials that the landscaping along a trail in the village is suffering from neglect.
An introduction of the program said that the points can also serve as the basis for bank credit. A total of 14.23 million points have been handed out. Some 8.69 million points have been exchanged for gifts worth 145,000 ($20,338) yuan.
"The points have lent leverage to social governance," it said.
A room utilizing smart home technology is on display in Meilin village, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province on June 7, 2023. [Photo by Zhang Wei/chinadaily.com.cn]
Villager Zhu Lihua, 50, said at the peak, her account had more than 300,000 points, which she earned mostly through strict garbage sorting.
"I also earned some through voluntary work during the COVID-19 lockdown," said Zhu, who runs an excavator leasing company.
Wei Laifa, who runs a packing business at the village, said: "With the points on offer, fewer and fewer villagers would neglect sorting through their garbage."