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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Government 2.0 – a phenomeon on the rise in India:

For a long time various governments and its departments were seen as faceless entities with no transparency and getting labeled as untrustworthy. Just as brands and organisations have started to use the potential of social media to reach its target consumers now, governments need to do the same by communicating with its target audience – citizens.
It seems the policy makers and politicians have come to realise the potential of social media beyond using it during elections and to advertise themselves.
Government organisations embracing new technology
  • Delhi Traffic PoliceDelhi Traffic Police joined Facebook as a page asking citizens to post pictures of errant drivers and to relay information on traffic information that might be necessary. They have been active in responding to the comments and questions. The page currently has more than 52,000 likes.
  • Indore Police Department – Indore Police Department has been maintaining a regular blog in Hindi, Facebook page (more than 300 likes) and Twitter profile (now not being updated, nearly a 100 followers). Besides this, they also have a Google Map of police stations in Indore. It also employs a unique technique in digital crime mapper to track criminal activities in Indore.
  • Maharashtra Police Department – Maharashtra Police Department launched an SMS based complaint tracking system (CTS) called ‘Turant Chovis’ which aimed at redressing citizen complaints by sending a message first response within 24 hours and resolving the issue within 30days. One of the department’s divisions, Nasik Rural Police Department were awarded at Manthan Awards 2009 for achieving 96% success rate with the scheme.
  • Ministry of External Affairs – Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) opened its Twitter account under the name ‘IndianDiplomacy’ which is a verified account with more than 7,000 followers currently. The account was started on July 10, 2010. The department recently got a ‘face’ with Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao also joining Twitter. She currently has 7,000 followers and a verified account as well. The efforts of MEA have been commended by many during the recent crisis to evacuate Indian nationals from Libya as information was relayed on a regular basis. There is a YouTube account created as well which hosts more than 50 documentary films on various subjects and has received more than 19,000 hits.
  • Municipal Corporation of Delhi – Municipal Corporation of Delhi has brought its entire process of form filling and submission to an online platform which is integrated on its website. This reduces the hassle faced by citizens in the past to travel back and forth to submit a form. Online forms include births certificates, information on filing a right to information (RTI) form, tax submission forms, health trade and veterinary licenses.
  • Post Office India – Indian Postal service, world’s largest postal network took to Twitter for its interactions with users and citizens. They have been answering to queries posted by users in relation to the service and how it can be used easily. They currently have more than 6,500 followers. Additionally, the government department also launched an exceptional “ePost Office” which would add up as an e-Commerce platform in the future.
  • Census 2011 – The process of counting of population was taken to social media as well to ask citizens to fill in their information accurately and in full during the time of visit of an enumerator. The initiative was launched on Facebook and Twitter with an on ground campaign in the offing as well. The Facebook page currently has more than 14,000 likes and Twitter profile has nearly 500 followers. (Read our post when the campaign was started)
  • Planning Commission of India – Planning Commission of India have been using its Facebook page to ask users to submit their expectations and ideas for the twelfth five year plan (2012 – 2017). Following the ideas, they would be included in the approach paper to be approved by cabinet and National Development Council. (Read our post when the campaign was started)
At the recent awards 2011, Ministry of External Affairs was awarded for most innovative use of social media and web 2.0 tools in government. Other recipients of the award were, Municipal Corporation of Delhi, India Post, Delhi Traffic Police, Census India 2011 and Planning Commission 12th plan.
While governments will face challenges in using social media, mainly in maintaining the secrecy of private and confidential information ; the positives would outweigh the negatives in the long run. Social networking would make networking and engagement with public simple and powerful, make research faster, provide mechanisms for getting rid of negative publicity and most importantly in understanding public sentiment to help form public policies.
Further, these networks can be used to post job openings in government departments which otherwise are posted in newspapers and as the example of Ministry of External Affairs clearly suggests – it can be used effectively in live broadcasting events such as an evacuation or an emergency where in a larger audience can be contacted at once with ease.
What are your views on government 2.0 and its growth so far in India? Which public department would you like to see go hi-tech next?

Source:,  March 15, 2011

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