From the time that we started mapping the system, we were able to identify problems very clearly. This was the time to convert those problems into design opportunities. Talking to MP Ranjan, we realized it was important to analyze and synthesize, rather than analyze and sit back. So by asking the questions “Why” and “Why Not?” for every identified problem, we were able to come up with around 18 design opportunities. All of them are required at different steps in the process. They come together to create a policing service that is transparent, citizen-centric and hassle-free. Some of them can be implemented immediately, some of them would need the police databases to be digitized, some involve the use of ambient data (crowdsourced) and some do not.
Problem: No information available about police stations in the neighbourhood, which leads to a generalized image of the police instead of making each station accountable.
Solution: Application that returns details of Police Station by sending the Pin Code of the area, with stats/records of the particular police station, its strength, police officer on duty at the current time and contact details.
Problem: When an incident occurs, often the citizen has no idea as to what is to be done, who to tell, how to tell and is completely blindsided when he/she talks to the police.
Solution: Application that guides the citizen with a simple Q & A format, and informs him/her about the nearest police station, gives information about legal procedures, and takes him/her through the entire process of filing a complaint, registering a case and receives periodical updates about the case and is able to give feedback on the service.
Problem: Jurisdictions of police stations are not clearly defined and are not available in public domain. Citizens are asked to report to other police stations on the pretext of the case not falling in their jurisdiction.
Solution: A searchable map of the city that plots all the police stations and their jurisdiction clearly. It also uses GPS to pin point where the incident occurred so there is no confusion about jurisdiction. This map could also display the crime rate of the area, type of crime, details of the police station, number of complaints, etc. This would help the police see what type of crime was on the rise in which locality and enable them to work with the local community to curb crime. It could also help citizens to make decisions about where to live in a city, where to send children to school, which areas are safe and where the police is efficient or lagging.
Problem: 80% citizens do not know the difference between a Cognizable offense and a Non-Cognizable offense, which is the basis for the filing of a FIR. They also have no idea about the sections of the Indian Penal Code in which the offenses are categorized. There is no information delivery mechanism at the time of need. Policemen usually use this to their advantage and change sections or convert COs to NCOs so they don’t have to file FIRs.
Solution: An application that empowers the citizen by giving him/her the knowledge of CO/NCO, and personalizes it by displaying whether the incident that the citizen wants to report is a CO or a NCO, and under which section of the IPC it falls. This would make sure that the citizen does not get cheated at the police station and also gets the complaint registered fairly.
At the Police Station:Problem: Migrant citizens and people who do not know local language find it extremely difficult to communicate/get their complaints filed because the policemen use the local language and even the information and paperwork is all in the local language.
Solution 1: Design bilingual forms (English and local language) for accessibility.
Solution 2: Use language translate in smartphones to convert statement and report from English to local language and vice versa.
Problem: Most police stations are extremely dingy and depressing. One reason is the blue walls. The environment is such that policemen themselves are extremely demotivated and anybody who enters the police station in a hassled state is not welcomed.
Solution: Lots of space design opportunities here in terms of navigation, demarkation, systems to be put in place. We recommend painting the walls white or a shade of green to bring in optimism and positivity in the entire space.
Problem: The interaction between citizens and policemen at the police station is held across a table with the citizen speaking and the policeman recording the statement. There are innumerable cases in which statements are changed, modified and gravity of situation increased/decreased depending on political influence or from higher up.
Solution: A larger surface for interaction (Transparency Wall/Big Screen) at the police station where instead of sitting across each other, the citizen and policeman work together using the large surface. This enables the citizen to see what the policeman is filing clearly (could be equipped with language support) and easy sharing of evidence, recording of statement. The surface can also be used to display maps, photographs of suspects, details of what to do next for the citizen, details of the police officer on the case, etc.
Solution: An application for the phone or posters outside the police station outlining the process that needs to be followed for filing a FIR. The offenses for which a FIR is filed and those for which a court warrant is required for police action would also help the citizens.
Problem: Policeman has to record each individual statement and write it down, and maintain the case files. This also often leads to him changing the statement a little to make it a case or nullify the complaint.
Solution: A kiosk that records the voice of the complainant as he/she narrates the problem and transcribes it, which then gets automatically filed in the case files.
Problem: There is a disbalance in the equation between the citizens and the police. The police have more power and authority over the citizens which is required in times of law enforcement but for general purposes, this disbalance makes it uncomfortable for citizens to approach the police.
Solution: An interface between the citizens and the police that gives details of the policeman to the citizens and vice versa. These details could include the policeman’s hometown, experience in the field, specialization, merits, citizens’ perception, etc. so that the citizens know who they are dealing with and accountability is brought in. This entire exercise also reminds the citizens that policemen are humans too, and although their job is of protection and law enforcement, they have their own pressures and backgrounds.
Solution: It could be made much simpler, option based for easy scanning and digitization to maintain in the records.
Problem: In the current process of digitization, as the police is a federal organization, different states are digitizing their records on their own. A lack of standards will make it harder to collate, access and compare fields later on.
Solution: A nationalized standard has to be devised that is followed throughout to create a seamless transition from the analog to digital, and in order to take advantage of well maintained and linked national databases of crime, offenders, complaints, etc.
After leaving the police station:Problem: Motivation of policemen is extremely low. It is thought of as a thankless job. The constables who contribute to most of the workforce are not acknowledged even on the FIR form. There is no platform for sharing good work done across the department either.
Solution: Records of each individual constable and police official are maintained. A rewarding system is put into place (acknowledgement/column in the newspaper) based on their work and feedback received from citizens who have interacted with the policemen. A platform could also be created where best practices are shared across the department, and stories of good work and citizen engagement are showcased.
Problem: There is no platform to share experiences of people who have interacted with the police (whether good or bad). Senior officers have no way to know how complainants at the ground level are being treated or how the policemen are behaving with citizens.
Solution: A feedback mechanism about the service received either at the police station or when the emergency number is dialed. Citizens can flag police stations or incidents where they were asked for a bribe, or were misbehaved with.
Solution: A case-tracking application that sends updates from the investigation officer every evening to the complainant about the status of the case. This would reassure the citizen that his/her case is being taken seriously apart from getting updates.
Increasing efficiency of the Police:Problem: In most of the states, the constable joins service after class 10. Apart from citizen-centric and gender sensitization courses being introduced, there is no material for reference in a manner that can be understood easily.
Solution: Legal procedures, charters, SOPs can all be simplified and presented in a manner that can be easily understood and implemented at the ground level. This could also be handy when the policemen want to refer to certain clauses or are unsure about how to handle a particular case.
Solution: A smartphone or device which can hold information on various laws, procedures, manuals and mandates would help the policeman through sticky situations. The device would also enable policemen on the move to receive photographs and evidence, and would be able to track incidents and crimes by GPS location.