It can help alert citizens but cannot address key concerns like increasing vehicles on the roads, lack of parking space and no limitations on vehicles allowed in the city, says Dr. B.K. Upadhyay, Jt Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Mumbai.
Dr. Upadhyay was participating in a discussion on "Can Social Media Help Beat Mumbai's Traffic Woes?" BoomNews's show #IndiaHangout with Ravi Khemani Co-founder and chief technology officer (CTO), Traffline.com and Raxit Sheth, founder, smartmumbaikar.com.
There are over two million vehicles in Mumbai, and, according to police data, over 450 are added every day. "Over and above this, vehicles come in from Thane and Navi Mumbai," says Dr. Upadhyay.
Ayaz Memon, co-host of the show, said India is becoming a car-centric nation, which is adding to the problem.
An effort to address the concerns is real time data sourcing. "Traffline.com is a traffic aggregator based on minute-by-minute updates. We have got good audience on Twitter,' says Khemani.
Dr. Upadhyay points out that volume is more than capacity on every road in Mumbai. "We had proposed congestion charges but it is a policy decision to be taken by the Government."
So, how does Traffline help the police and the common man? "We provide information from digital maps to Mumbai police. And we also get information from the traffic control room."
Authenticity was a concern at the start, Khemani said but "now we are pretty confident of our services."
Dr. Upadhyay made some strong points about the traffic conditions, road users and infrastructure. "Unless we address the key concern of vehicles and infrastructure, traffic concerns cannot be addressed in a city like Mumbai. Everybody is in a hurry, nobody wants to wait and watch. Commuters have to be a bit more patient. And we have to tighten rules for the issue of driving licences."
Khemani was of the view that just giving information will not improve situation. "We are trying to come up with traffic projections."
Dr. Upadhyay said a city like Mumbai has only around 16,000 traffic officials. "We are putting more and more men on the road without other aid. We are not using technology used in other countries. And we have to improve our public transport system."