December 2015

INDIAN RAILWAYS Riding the Tech Bandwagon

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INDIAN-RAILWAYSAdopting a Generic Communications Platform for Effective Governance

If there is one organisation in the public sphere which stands tall for its size and scale, it’s unequivocally the Indian Railways. The complexity of numbers dealt by them is simply humungous and from a computational standpoint it gets intractable at times if not approached from a well thought out strategy and action plan. The recent experiment at the Indian Railways adopting Twitter as a predominant tool of interfacing with the public at large, enthused the Elets News Network (ENN) to dig a bit deeper and bring about the key learnings and outcomes of the same. Bhawna Satsangi went on to unravel the Twitter Governance at the Indian Railways

They say, it all lies in execution. Whatever be the technology, whatsoever be the underlying processes, it’s the implementation that counts at the end of the day. The due deployment of Twitter Governance at Indian Railways across its 16 Zones and corresponding divisions is a case in point which validates the veracity of this age-old wisdom and gives a cue to the very many struggling configurators of technology in the annals of Government departments.

The General Managers across Central (@gm_crly),
Eastern (@EasternRailway), East Central (@GM_ECRly),
East Coast(@gmeastcoastrly), Northern (@GM_NRly),
North Central (@GMNCR1), North Eastern (@gmner_gkp),
North East Frontier (@gm_nfr),
North Western (@GMNWRailway),
Southern (@GMSRailway), South Central (@Gmscrailway),
South Eastern (@GM/SERAILWAY),
South East Central (@Gmsecr), South Western (@gmswr),
Western (@Gmwrly) and West Central (@Gmwcrailway)
Zones have got their respective twitter handles.

The Railway Minister has asked all the DRMs and GMs to have their own Twitter handles and he keeps on repeating on Twitter to tag DRMs and GMs in case of any problem

A closer look would however, suggest that this account creation was an entirely distributed exercise as you can’t see an underlying pattern or uniformity of structure having a due logical recall value. This is good to see a speedy implementation and buying by all the stakeholders across the country who still struggle in technology. However, the design is a bit sub-optimal which can be plugged in by Twitter itself by providing specialized domain handles for organizations like Indian Railways.

An analysis of the engagement of these twitter handles carried out on 16th of November show that 24962 people follow these81 handles which have issued some 10373 tweets.

Anil-Saxena

Anil Saxena

The aforesaid statistics nowhere match with those of the official twitter account @RailMinIndia which has a whopping following of over 523K and has an engagement of 5644 tweets. The zones have certainly to catch up with their ministerial counterpart. Nevertheless, it seems to be a great headstart.

“In a span of one year, we have added 5 lakh 17 thousand followers to our social media and are trying to take it to the next level. We are using social media judiciously in many ways. We are using social media to educate our people about safety issues, trying to communicate with our stakeholders, and the railway minister has asked all the DRMs and GMs to have their own twitter handles and he keeps on repeating on twitter to tag DRMs and GMs in case of any problem,” informs Anil Saxena, Additional Director General Public Relations, Ministry of Railways (Railway Board).

For the betterment of passenger services, amenities and overall management, Railways is in the forefront of leveraging technology to the optimum. Delighting India’s digital natives, Ministry of Railways have notched sizeable followings. The ministry is taking the twitter penetration to the next level.

“Through this platform we are empowering our customers, at the same time discrepancies are resolved in a short span of time, we are effectively using social media because we get good feedback from the people using this platform. The minister has the pulse of each and every movement in the ministry. We are using Twitter for communicating with the passengers, taking their feedback on the day today working,” adds Saxena.

East Central Zone ranks highest on the popularity index of these Twitter handles with 3,228 followers
ZONE FOLLOWERS
East Central 3228
Southern 2944
East Coast 1845
Eastern 1670
Western 1653
North Western 1647
South Western 1550
South East Central 1408
Northern 1360
North Central 1334
South Central 1290
West Central 1253
South Eastern 1193
Central 1135
North Eastern 936
Northeast Frontier 912
North Central Zone tops the chart of engagements with 1,656 tweets
ZONE TWEETS
North Central 1656
Southern 1448
South Central 915
Northeast Frontier 783
East Central 718
North Western 709
Western 687
South East Central 652
Northern 624
Eastern 525
East Coast 367
North Eastern 363
Central 328
South Western 257
South Eastern 196
West Central 145

A closer look would however, suggest that this account creation was an entirely distributed exercise as you can©t see an underlying pattern or uniformity of structure having a due logical recall value. This is good from a speedy implementation and buying in of all the stakeholders across the country who still struggle in technology

“This is a feedback practice. We have open twitter account to see the complaints and suggestions which is being handled by DRMs and GMs. Any information given by passengers is dealt by the highest authority in a short span of time,” informs Ved Prakash, Director, Information and Publicity, Ministry of Railways.

The social media accounts of Indian Railway also contain latest updates and information such as starting of new trains, special trains, change of schedules of trains due to unforeseen circumstances, facilities being provided to the customers etc. is posted on Twitter or Facebook to make it available to its passengers on real time basis. Social awareness messages, videos etc. are also being uploaded for the safety and knowledge of the customers.

TwitterThe matrix of business is changing. Brands are conscious about the level of engagement and not the size of the audience. Public sentiment too is a winning indicator of customer acquisition. Following the mandate, the initiative run by the Indian Railways has helped the ministry in generating another source of revenue through social media. “If you satisfy the passengers’ needs, they get attracted to the services and the modes of communication. We are also highlighting campaigns through social media and help our passengers and customers to be a part of the railway business,” explains Prakash.

As Raheel Khursheed, Head of News, Government and Politics, Twitter India puts in, “Twitter changes the way Indian consumers and brands connect through live, public conversations about topics that matter most to them. People come to Twitter to discover what’s happening in the world right now, to share information instantly, and to connect with people and businesses around the globe. With hundreds of millions of users and over 500 million Tweets being sent each day, Twitter has today become an ideal platform for real time conversations.”

The initiative is a well meaning one spearheaded by none other than the Minister Railways himself. How far shall it go would however depend on the larger support ecosystem galvanized around this unique experiment.

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