Agency Uses Social Media to Connect With Citizens
The age of social media has given rise to new breed of armchair thinkers. These are people who constantly use social media to voice their opinions and concerns on various issues. But rarely do we see the outrage or concerns expressed on social media bringing some change on ground. But if you’re in Mumbai, there are chances that a post on Facebook or a simple tweet can help you resolve a major civic issue. All this thanks to the BMC’s initiative to use social media to reach out to the people.
The BMC’s solid waste management cell has started a page on Facebook ‘Solid waste Management, MCGM’, which helps people tackle various issues related to solid waste management. Started almost two months ago this page has come to the rescue of many concerned citizens who are troubled by the rising levels of unsegregated waste in the city. Take the example of Rahul Jawale, a 28-year old concerned citizen who was looking for ways and means to keep the city clean, who found himself pleasantly surprised with the page. “When I went to the page I was very surprised, because these people were doing a great job. They were posting on number of measures and activities that can help us solve the problems of our locality. I liked and shared the page and started putting my own suggestions here too”, says Rahul.
The page is helping bridge the gap between the BMC and citizens, aiding the corporation to get rid of its image as a typical government department “Earlier, there was always a gap between what we did and what people knew about what we were doing. Our social media efforts have helped bridge this. We do have limitations in the fact that we are not familiar with managing a Facebook account; our staff is not very efficient at that. So we are bringing in outside agencies to handle this and have floated tenders for it”, says Pallavi Darade, additional municipal commissioner – city of the BMC.
So how does this page help you and me as citizens? Well, if you post a query on the Facebook page – you can be sure to receive a reply in a matter of few minutes, which makes it a speedy way to get the corporation to acknowledge your complaints. What’s more? The page also has regular posts containing various solutions to tackle issues related to solid waste management, in the form of photos and videos. The rising popularity of this page has prompted BMC to explore other ways to use technology to spread awareness and highlight the work that the BMC does. For starters, the BMC is considering a similar social media presence for other cells within the corporation and is also planning on rolling out apps and software which can cover its various activities. They have already launched software to tackle the problem of encroachment, with a facility for people to register their complaints online.
However, the main challenge that the BMC faces is that not many people are aware of the agency’s efforts on social media. Expert say the only way that the BMC can make its mark is through constant publicity and by maintaining momentum while posting on such platforms. “What we need to do is give more publicity. We need to link many ALMS, citizen Forums, education institutes and get them on board and familiar with using these platforms to reach us. We could publicize it by maybe printing it on property tax bills or other department circulars which go to the people. We need to make it visible in each ward by having scroll boards saying that the BMC is present on Facebook and invite people to give their comments. And most importantly, we should not stop this initiative in one year’s time. It should be done continuously”, says Seema Redkar, expert on solid waste management and former BMC official.
By embracing social media, the BMC is clearly trying to distance itself from its image as an entity that is resistant to change. What remains to be seen now is how well it will use these platforms to break barriers, connect with people and most importantly act on complaints.
Ashwini Priolker, NDTV