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Updated: August 22, 2010 11:43 IST

Tapping Facebook to improve traffic

Devesh K. Pandey
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A TWO-WAY CHANNEL: The page has attracted more than 21,000 dedicated members in just three months.
THE HINDU
A TWO-WAY CHANNEL: The page has attracted more than 21,000 dedicated members in just three months.

Here is an example of the real power of social networking harnessed. The novel experiment of the Delhi traffic police with Facebook to open a two-way channel for instant communication with road-users has tasted success , bringing in more than 21,000 dedicated members in barely three months.

Bulldozing bureaucratic barriers that often prevent the flow of information on the ground realities to supervisory officers, the platform has fast evolved into a medium for both road-users and the traffic police for sharing information and exchanging views.

Through Facebook, the police give out frequent updates and advisories on the traffic scenario in the capital. They also share data on special drives carried out from time to time.

A large number of commuters post updates on problems, ranging from non-functional traffic signals and snarls to the men-in-white allegedly indulging in corrupt practices. A member, who is a lawyer with sound knowledge of traffic rules, even clears doubts of other members.

?We have received a tremendous public response. Thanks to information being provided by the members, we have been able to deliver more efficiently. Another interesting aspect is that people are frequently reporting traffic rule violations and other problems they come across. They feel empowered to contribute to the prosecution of violators,? says Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Satyendra Garg.

In fact, several enthusiastic contributors have started posting photographs of violating vehicles, mentioning the location, date and timing of the violations such as unauthorised parking, faulty number-plates, the use of prohibited tinted glasses, driving without helmets and the use of Delhi police sticker. Taking up the cases seriously, the traffic police are issuing challans to violators and also getting back to the contributors about the action taken.

Till August 15, the traffic police received 4,425 complaints through their Facebook account; in all, prosecution has been initiated in 1,577 cases of violations.

The message wall apart, the traffic police have provided a discussion board on which the members have so far posted nearly 130 topics. While senior officers, including Mr. Garg, have been regularly responding to issues highlighted by the members, other traffic police officers are encouraged to respond to area-specific problems.

Mr. Garg says exchange of information through the Internet has helped in faster correction of deficiencies. The police recently started an SMS service through which registered users get advisories and regular updates on the traffic situation. About 40,000 people have registered for the service so far.

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