Anyone living in Mumbai (India), can ill-afford to ignore the traffic. It is so intense that travelling a 1 kilometer stretch in a vehicle, can take up to an hour! It’s no wonder that, in Mumbai, distance is often measured in units of time!! When asked how far is one place, from another, people often often reply with a sense of time.. 15 minutes, one hour, etc.
The density of traffic is increasing daily, and with it, so are the traffic violations and the frustration levels of the people – frustration with the traffic, the vehicles, the violations and consequently, the traffic police!!
To address this burning issue, a Mumbai-based NGO, TogetherVCAN, a Trust led by social activist Indrani Malkani, thought of organising a program where the people could speak directly to the top cop in charge of Traffic – for Mumbai, it is the Joint Commissioner of Police (Jt CP), Dr. B.K. Upadhyay.
They named this initiative Social Sanchar, where people would be encouraged to speak out their problems, ask questions and even offer suggestions, directly to the Government official – and have the benefit of getting responses directly too!
Now, phyisically bringing all concerned (or affected) people to one location, to interact with the Jt CP itself was a daunting task, especially because of the distance… and traffic!
The challenge was how to get people to participate in this program, on a working day, during work hours, keeping in mind the distances. In other words.. How to get people to interact with the government, from WHEREVER they were!
That’s when TogetherVCAN decided to leverage technology developed by April Broadcast, to connect the Government with the People.
A conference room at the Diners Business Club in South Mumbai, was identified and the Jt CP was invited to address an audience consisting of a few concerned citizens and organisations.
TogetherVCAN sent out and posted open invitations (via web, Facebook, Twitter, whatsapp, email) to the public to participate in this free program – either by coming to the venue or by watching it over the internet.
2 live video cameras covered the entire event and the mixed (Picture-in-Picture, split-screen, etc.) video output was displayed on a large projector screen for the benefit of the Jt CP and the audience. The projector screen video display was the same as the one that was streamed out over the internet.
People were encouraged to ask questions and send suggestions using various forms of technology:
- A mobile number was circulated where people could send a simple SMS text message.
- A Twitter handle was identified to which people could mark their Twitter posts.
- A Skype ID was created, where people could actually make Skype video calls and speak face-to-face with the Jt CP.
All these messages that came in via SMS or Twitter were flashed on the Projector screen, for the Jt CP to read and respond. When a Skype Video call was received, the incoming caller video was also displayed on the projector screen along side the video of the JT CP.
The final video display was branded with the logos of the various sponsors of the event and the bottom screen ticker consisted on important contact information.
The event lasted for over an hour and the entire proceedings were streamed back out on to the internet as a YouTube Live Event for everyone to view – on their desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones.
TogetherVCAN was very pleased with the response and decided to continue organizing such Social Sanchar Events.
A brief video of the Event can be viewed here.
More information on AB-Live, the technology that was used by April Broadcast, is available here.