Judicious use of technology

From sharing the video of actor Matthew McConaughey’s Oscar speech to a post expressing his views on the infamous blue whale challenge, P. Aravindhan presents a diversity of topics on Facebook. For any stranger chancing upon his Facebook wall, Aravindhan will come across as a youngster living digital. He’s certainly that, but also a lot more than that. He is the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) T. Nagar.

When he receives traffic-related complaints on Facebook, the 31-year-old police officer attends to them. He, however, keeps these interactions to the point and extremely matter-of-fact. The truly tech-savvy are those who are aware of the pros and cons of each platform. This discretion is probably the result of associating with the information-technology sector before entering government service. Aravindhan has a B.E Computer Science from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, Pune, and has worked as a software professional at IBM.

He has served as Assistant Superintendent of Police in Tenkasi and as Superintendent of Police in Virudhunagar; and a little less than two years ago, he came to Chennai to take charge as the DCP Traffic (South) and was later appointed DCP T. Nagar. And wherever he has been posted, Aravindhan has introduced technological innovations to ensure better delivery of services. He introduced an SMS-based system for passport verification to reduce bribery in police verification. In the 2016 Assembly elections in Virudhunagar, Aravindhan developed an SMS-based alert system that would send alerts from polling stations to the control room.

“Since my college days, I wanted to enter the civil services sector. My job at IBM was a small break; I was there to understand how the software industry functions. I knew that such an exposure to technology would help me in my job as a civil servant,” says the IPS officer from the 2010 batch.

It certainly has.

In his latest posting as DCP T. Nagar, Aravindhan ensured that senior citizens stored the speed dial key 2, under the ‘dial 2 system’, so that they can quickly seek police help. He assigned beat officers for this task. Installing 150 cameras with face detection technology in T. Nagar is another example.

“On an average, I receive one complaint per day on WhatsApp; and three complaints per week on Facebook. I pass on the messages to the officer concerned. I also reply to the complainant. If the latter has not received a response, I check with the officer. This mode of delivering government service reduces public fear of the police and makes the relationship better,” says Aravindhan, who spends around two hours on social media to redress issues.

In addition to interacting with the candidates appearing for mock interviews for civil service exams, he mentors young ASPs and clarifies their doubts either through a WhatsApp group or his personal Facebook account.

For Aravindhan, introducing changes based on technology has been both satisfying and challenging.

Recalling his days in Tenkasi, he says, “There were officers who had 10 years of work experience and were accustomed to the existing way of the system. Frankly, my initial efforts to foster change was met with resistance. I had to discuss and convince them that the changes would make the work easier and more fruitful. After continual negotiations, the DSPs under me became receptive to my ideas. The results these changes fetched further convinced them of my methods.”

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