In addition to news and views, Delhiites can now turn to the social media platform Twitter to keep up with alerts on law and order, traffic and even government schemes, with the two pillars of the capital — the Delhi government and the Delhi Police — using the micro blogging site as a tool to connect with the public.
The Delhi government, with its substantial social media presence, recently concluded the #OddEvenExperiment in partnership with Twitter, wherein those who tweeted to @TransportDelhi with the #PollutionFreeDelhi hashtag would be informed of routes and public transport availability to their destination.
Another one of Twitter’s recent endeavours was to unite the police forces of the five metros— Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kolkata — on its platform.
“We are in constant conversations with various departments including the police and traffic. We make them familiar with the platform and the utility it can bring to them. We educate the police departments about how Twitter will help them connect with public and build transparency, credibility and accountability. The platform is a bridge to connect people with the public works departments,” said Raheel Khurshid, Head of News, Government & Politics Partnerships at Twitter India.
Delhi Police, which joined the site on 1 December 2015, is just beginning to navigate Twitter. It has three accounts under it — one for the Delhi Police (@DelhiPolice) and two accounts of the Commissioner of Police Bhim Sain Bassi (@BhimBassi) and @CPDelhi.
“We are just learning the basics ourselves right now. We have been instructed to retweet tweets, which I am only now learning to do,” a source in the operations department said.
At the Delhi Police headquarters, in the operations department, which is overseeing the police force’s Twitter presence, a file marked “Alerts for Twitter” with the blue bird logo sits atop several other files, waiting for despatch.
“Within the next few days, we plan to upload a booklet of 51 frequently asked questions to Twitter. We have forwarded it to the agency that handles our Twitter account and it should be available online soon,” the source said. The FAQs answer most of the general queries of the public, for example, it explains the process of registering a complaint in case of emergency, while even providing information on which officer further in the hierarchy to contact in case the complaint is not registered.
The tweets are first vetted by senior police officers, including S. Sundari Nanda, Special Commissioner of Police (Operations), who is at the helm of the Twitter team and is actively involved in building a more technologically savvy police force.
“We must keep ourselves abreast of technology if we have to survive. And we will (adapt), just like the way we trained our staff in CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) and they were able to save the lives of about 8-9 people by providing timely assistance,” the source said.
The Delhi Police is soon expected to add to its arsenal the “phablets” or phone-cum-tablets, which are being provided by the ONGC under its CSR initiative. “We hope these ‘phablets’ will make our force technologically advanced so that they are able to use WhatsApp, Twitter etc. to communicate and we may have real time assessment,” he said.
The Delhi Police aims to keep its tweets straightforward to serve an “educational” purpose, unlike the Mumbai police, which was applauded recently for its creative tweets, one of them being: “If you roll we will weed you out,” for its anti-marijuana campaign.
“They may be eyeing the younger generation with their catchy slogans. Mumbai Police is inspired by Bollywood,” the source said. “We at Delhi are not interested in TRP,” he added.