(Pic – Kiran Bedi with Holly of PBS)
Critics never tire of praising Kiran Bedi, an ex super cop and present day social activist. Recently when she got passed over for the top cop position at New Delhi, Ms Bedi promptly handed over her resignation and, kid you not, set out to jump on the web 2.0 bandwagon. (Albeit a rickety one though).
How Did She Do That
By collaborating with an NGO in launching a website called Safer India www.saferindia.com. (Hindu reported the site to be getting almost 100, 000 hits a day). SaferIndia plans to play footsie in assisting common Indians lodge complaints with the concerned police department.
The modus operandi is supposed to eliminate obstruction of justice by those lazy pot bellied cops who would otherwise snub the concerned citizen from filing the complaint through contemporary mechanisms. Lack of motivation among the general public in physically going to to the local thana is another factor.
Standard web procedure of users registering with their email IDs, at the completion of which, an email is sent out to them. They can then log on and file a report. After successfully filing the complaint, they take a print out for “following up with the authorities”, as the website puts it. The onus of filing correct information lies with the complainant.
The webmaster on his/her part takes responsible in pushing the filed report to the concerned police department.
Points To Ponder
By and large, noble thoughts and intentions. But while browsing around the website and going beyond the home page, one thought that constantly came to my mind; tacky.
The design is haphazard. Out of nowhere, suddenly you see these two Goggle adsense sky scrappers abut in. Makes you think the designer is still living in dark ages by disregarding simple site optimization tactics like ad blending.
The site also mentions that SaferIndia will “forward the complaint electronically” to the said police department, and a copy of the same would be mailed to the complainant. You can’t help but wonder about the exact role the site is playing. Is it simply that of hitting the forward button? Why not cut the chase and let the users email directly to their police departments?
The site is full of disclaimers, though I don’t blame them for covering their ass. They also warn of taking action through all “legal means possible” if you start to fool around with the service.
The Site’s About Us
Besides Kiran Bedi and few other social activists, retired IPS officers, advocates etc., the only technical man-on-board I could make out was Naveen Varshney (Could barely read the last name, so pardon me if I got it wrong).
[Update – Mr Varshneya has replied to us in the comments section. We at TechBanyan welcome healthy criticism and positive feedback. We will continually strive to meet the high expectations of our readers].
Suggestions For The Website
While Ms Bedi is at it, why not give her a few suggestions. Might help her make the user experience better.
How about having a blog section where she can give updates on a weekly/fortnightly basis. (TSA, challenged only by the IRS in reputation, has one and they are an instant hit with the American travelers). SaferIndia users can give comments and feedback to her on how to optimize this whole process. After all thats what web 2.0 is all about!
Reports help in benchmarking and are extremely essential to measure the record for success or failure. Perhaps it may or may not be a good idea to make public the complaints but at least the web site can tell us how many complaints were filed, how many were resolved, how many still pending etc. in a given period of time. Reporting would also help bring transparency to this whole exercise.
These are some of the suggestions I can think of right off the top of my head. Let us know if you can think of something else.
India considers itself to be at the forefront of IT revolution. So it definitely makes sense for the government to harness this tool to stream line the process and make the lives of its citizens better. Hopefully we will see Government initiate similar projects soon.
We thank Mr. Varshneya for shedding light on some of the concerns raised in the article above. (See Comments Section)
– Regarding the ‘haphazard design’ statement, our grouse is not with showing Google ads but the manner and format it has been displayed in. One way to improve and optimize it would be to blend the colors of the ad with the site colors so that it doesn’t stand out and create a disconnect with the background.
– Regarding the complaints being forwarded electronically to the concerned police departments, our real concern here is what is the standard procedure going to be in such cases. It would be impractical to expect Dr. Bedi to run from pillar to post all over the country fighting for every case. Besides forwarding them to the concerned police station, perhaps the site can also elaborate on how it will go about ensuring filed complaints will be acted upon or what will be the benchmarks for escalation.