MTC is the latest to join the list of government line agencies that are harnessing the reach of social media platforms

A trivia from Metropolitian Transport Corporation. Name this popular destination on MTC’s 21G route. The answer can be accessed @MTCChennai on X (formerly Twitter) .

Chennai’s public transport is a new kid on the social-media block. By ensuring its presence on Facebook, Instagram and X in October 2023 (when its newly-appointed chairman and managing director Alby John took charge), MTC has sent out a message that it wants to engage with the public.

The beginnings are humble: updated information about bus routes and engaging with users through such trivia.

A staff in-charge of the social media section notes the focus currently is on offering information based on feedback from commuters. They have also started forwarding grievances raised by commuters.

A robust grievance redressal mechanism that combines multiple platforms can raise any civic agency’s profile.

In the last calendar year, Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) received over 8,000 complaints through social media and an official says almost all of them were attended to. Complainants are sometimes called before closing the complaint.

Posts on the 24×7 helpline number (4567 4567), details of tanker lorries and water level at lakes are among its most popular tweets. Its post about work being under way on Manapakkam to Kolapakkam sewer network witnessed 52,000 views in a single day, making it one of the best responses it has received so far.

Chennai Traffic Police and Tangedco are among other government line agencies that post news about activities being carried out by the department.

Greater Chennai Corporation, which has 283K followers on X, is also big on grievance redressal, if we have to go by data it shared in the past.

In an article in The Hindu in March 2022, Greater Chennai Corporation mentioned that X is the most popular social networking service used by citizens for addressing civic issues.

What citizens want

Highways is one department that must join social media. Greater Chennai Corporation and Tangedco do a good job engaging with users on social media; the latter for instance responds to our complaint, follows up with the staff on the ground and even updates us. When there is closure to a grievance raised, it is pleasant.

MTC is fairly new to this space, but when I recently raised an issue about a non-functional display board in a bus, they rectified it the same day. Answering every query from users might be difficult but they can prioritise those queries and respond accordingly.

Vidyasagar Jagadeesan, resident of Pallikaranai

I have interacted with the GCC and Chennai Traffic Police via social media and they respond quickly to comments, and are making an effort to share information in a more real time basis and that is great. Civic agencies should focus on responsive and reliable content/ information that answers people’s questions. This will improve trust in the agency and make people more amenable to messages on behaviour change which is a common component of social media messaging. And of course, they have to create attractive content in keeping with cultural trends.

Sumana Narayanan, senior researcher, Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group

Although CMDA has a presence on social media, it does not have a grievance redressal mechanism along the lines of the ones supported by other government departments. I appreciate the way Southern Railway responds to complaints posted on X. We also want to see more awareness posts about in-person grievance redressal meetings conducted by various departments.

K. Dayanand, volunteer, Chitlapakkam Rising

Social media platforms must also be used by agencies to seek feedback from public on certain policies. Data speaks a lot and Chennai Traffic Police, for example, must have posts that talk about enforcement carried out on the ground. Social media can be a great place to bridge the trust deficit, so there must be engaging posts to get citizens to work closely with agencies. Friends of Police, for example, is a wonderful initiative that must encourage more people to volunteer; and an engaging post can make the difference. Let us get inspired reading more citizen voluntary stories.

V. M. Chinni Krishnan, resident of Shenoy Nagar

This post was originally published on this site