In yet another example of how futuristic crime fighting tools are coming sooner than we could’ve imagined, police in India’s capital city have started using Facebook and crowdsourcing to catch traffic violators.
New Delhi is the one of the world’s largest and most dense metropolises, with traffic horrendous enough to make a Manhattan rush hour feel like a breezy countryside drive. Roads and highways are often clogged, according to the New York Times, and just 5,000 traffic cops patrol a city of 12 million people and 6.5 million vehicles. Delhi turned to social networking to mitigate the overwhelming congestion.
In June, traffic officers launched their own Facebook page and appealed to concerned citizens for help. Soon, some 18,000 had joined, posting close to 3,000 photographs and videos of traffic violations ranging from helmet-less bikers to cell-phone-wielding drivers. The police have used these uploads to issue more than 600 tickets so far.
Ironically, of those hundreds of tickets, around 50 were issued to police officers caught breaking traffic laws themselves. But the Facebook-as-highway-watchdog system is growing in popularity. The Delhi Traffic Police now has four officers dedicated to monitoring the page who respond to violations, offer tips on avoiding traffic jams, and post updates on road obstructions and delays.
Sure, the system sounds beneficial, but should the police really be encouraging motorists to take pictures and video while driving? After all, if drivers are getting in trouble for talking on their cells, shouldn’t those taking pictures with camera phones get tickets too?