Can Facebook Be Used To Monitor Traffic?

Traffic in New York or LA might be pretty bad during rush hour, but it’s nothing compared to the congested streets of New Delhi. To get citizens involved in assessing the increasingly problematic streets – which often feature bicycles squeezing in between cars and pedestrians zig-zagging in between three-wheelers and over-stuffed buses – the Delhi Traffic Police has created a fan page on Facebook. It might sound far-fetched, but it appears as though citizens are actually using the page to communicate their grievances, suggestions, and engage in a two-way conversation with the people responsible for shortening their daily commutes.

As the Wall Street Journal blog points out, the page might not simply be about doing the best for Delhi’s citizens. With the upcoming Commonwealth Games to be hosted in the city in October, it is likely that the page is there, at least in part, for image-boosting as well.

However, the page is really more than just a gloss over Delhi’s traffic problem. It allows citizens to request traffic police at certain areas, complain about a chronic lack of signage, or ask about the rule of traffic violations. Quite a number of the wall posts are from mobile Facebook applications, indicating that citizens are using it at the scene of a violation or problem. Despite the fact that texting and driving is not necessarily a positive thing, engaging with local officials on a social network is.

With over 2,500 “likes” within its first week, the Delhi Traffic Police fan page is growing quickly. It’s refreshing to see the government engaging with its citizens on such a potentially tarnishing topic as poor traffic management. Perhaps Facebook can be part of the tools in governments’ arsenals to address the major infrastructure and public works problems in their territory.

Image of New Delhi traffic, via Reuters