Bengaluru, July 10: Social media has grown leaps and bounds and it is a fact that if anyone decides to stay away from it, he or she will be left out. The Bengaluru police in particular have been extremely active on the social media and according to them they have managed to change a perception of the people thanks to this.
Bengaluru City Police Commissioner, M N Reddi says that in an increasingly connected world, governance cannot be on a different level. While speaking about the advantages of the social media, he also said that it cannot be a substitute for basic policing on the ground.
He was delivering the key-note address, Social Media as Community Policing 2.0 at the launch of the Takshashila's Centre for Smart City Governnance at Bengaluru today.
The Centre for Smart City Governance will be a focal point on urban policy research, education and public outreach, and is an initiative of the Takshashila Institution which is an independent, non-partisan next-generation think tank.
Perception management the key:
Reddi says, "in an increasingly connected world, governance cannot be on a different path. When I took over as the Commissioner of Police an year ago I realised that there was a big shift as there was a need to manage perception. When people asked me what my problem areas I had responded by saying it was perception.
The people had a perception about the police. When a rape occurs in a school people are worried. There is angst among the parents especially the mothers. We decided then that there was a need to have a faster medium and hence created an account on twitter. We realized that if there is a problem and people bring it to our notice, immediate responses were needed.
For me engaging with the social media was one of the mist educative experiences. We have today grown at 1,000 followers per day. This according to be has ensured that we are on top of the situation so far as perception is concerned. We have managed to convey to the people about the situation and also reduce the angst. We are no longer the stereo types as is depicted in the movies.
Policing has undergone a transformation. Gone are those days of torture. In Karnataka today, policing is entirely different. As I pointed out that there are no tortures as there used to be ten years back now."
The social media team:
"We have a dedicated team which handles social media. I prefer twitter to facebook. In twitter the messages are short and crisp unlike facebook where the messages at times can be endless. When we came to twitter we realized that the people had expectations. We have a 20 member team operating all through 24/7.
Today we realized that the people have expectations and this has led to a healthy build up. What we have managed to do is ensure that complaints made to us are responded within 80 hours and this is not a common sight in India.
Most people face small problems everyday. It is the normal deviances that trouble us. Earlier the police would say that these issues are too small. However today that has changed. The lower we have moved, we have been able to do better community policing. With the help of the virtual world we have been able to establish community policing," the Bengaluru city police commissioner also said.
Setting the agenda:
"I would like to quote an incident in which 1,000s of students from the North East began leaving the city. This was due to an agenda that was set. This was a result of rumours that were spread. At that time the Bengaluru police was not so active on the social media. It was the media that set the agenda and the people reacted on this basis.
Had we been active on the social media at that time, things would have been different. Today the situation would have been different. Due to our large presence on the social media, we are able to set the agenda and this helps reduce rumour mongering. What the social media has helped us do is fill up the vaccum.
Today we are in a better position to get through to the people. We are in the game of perception apart from dealing with the crime itself.
The people have access to us. This sort of accessibility gives the people a sense of ownership of the police. If one may recollect the police and the public have always had a problem. However the advent into the social media has changed that perception a great deal," said Reddi.
The disadvantages of the social media:
The police commissioner however made it clear that social media however cannot be a substitute for policing on the ground. While listing out the disadvantages, Reddi said that social media cannot be a substitute for basic policing on the ground.
Further he pointed out that social media has a limited reach to IT savvy citizens only. Twitterati can be merciless and pan us for small mistakes. It is also an amenable for agenda based attacks, the police commissioner also pointed out.