In a first-of-its-kind initiative in the country, the Mumbai Police has started tracking public views and sentiments on social media platforms to step-up its preparedness in handling sensitive issues and protests.
For this purpose, the country's first social media lab has been established by the Mumbai Police, with the help of IT-ITES industry body NASSCOM in technical infrastructure and training, while SocialAppsHQ.com provided the law enforcement agency with a social monitoring app, a NASSCOM official said.
Sources in the Mumbai Police confirmed the development.
SocialAppsHQ.com tracks and provides sentiment analysis, identifies behavioural patterns, influencers and advocates, track increase in chatter and generate alerts in real-time on social media platforms.
The firm is also in discussion with other law enforcement arms like paramilitary forces and intelligence agencies to set up similar social media tracking labs.
"Mumbai Police has taken the initiative to set up India's first social media lab with the help of advanced social media monitoring tools from SocialAppsHQ.com to gauge and analyse public sentiment on social media channels," SocialAppsHQ CEO Rajat Garg told PTI.
This initiative will assist "our law enforcement agencies in handling sensitive issues like the protests following the Delhi rape case or the Jan Lokpal issue", he added. Last year, the police had failed to gauge the size and seriousness of public sentiments until things had gone out of control. In almost all these matters, social media was used as a driver to ramp up support, he said.
In Mumbai, police is witnessing active participation from citizens on social media websites. Issues like local body tax, acid attack are hotly discussed online in various groups and by various influencers on Twitter and Facebook, Garg said.
Through automated social media intelligence tools from SocialAppsHQ.com, police can now find out anti-social groups actively participating in creating disturbance and take timely and preventive measures, he added.
Also, it helps police to understand the mood and emotions of citizens thus providing input to relevant authorities to take early corrective action, Garg said.
On the working of the lab, he explained, that the lab processes only the data that is available on public platforms using algorithms and brings out patterns, which are then further analysed to identify various activities.
"This year in January, we informed the Delhi Police about a group on Facebook that was going to organise a protest march on the first anniversary of the Delhi rape case, we tracked some members talking about stone pelting. This helped police is preparing in advance to handle the situation," Garg said.
On Delhi Police coming forward to set up such a lab, he said: "We had a meeting with them 4-5 months back, but that was it."
Earlier this month, Delhi Police (special cell) special commissioner SN Srivastava had said that monitoring and use of social media can help prevent crimes and police should take advantage of it.