Rema Rajeshwari, District Police Chief of Mahabubnagar, India

Women in GovTech Special Report 2020.

How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation. The most important use of technology in law enforcement is that of a 'force multiplier'. Given the huge population we serve, and with the manpower crunch issues, technology helps us to have eyes and ears where we didn't have before. Better surveillance of areas mapped as 'crime-prone', making safer public spaces for women and children, faster responses to distress calls, instant delivery of citizen services and most importantly cracking cases using technology and nabbing offenders in both physical and digital spaces. My most memorable public sector program which saved many lives was the work against misinformation that led to largescale mob lynching incidents in 2018. What was the most impactful project you worked on this year? Pandemic policing. As we saw, law enforcement agencies across the world were faced with an extraordinary situation with the spread of COVID- 19 pandemic. Governments and the law enforcement agencies had to suddenly prepare themselves to restrict free movement of public while also ensuring that there is no impediment to essential and emergency services like food, sanitation, and healthcare. The first few weeks were a huge challenge as there was no precedence of policing during a pandemic. The usual perception of policing is to maintain law and order. But this situation demanded the police to go beyond its core mandate and reorient their role in a humanitarian crisis by rising up to a wide range of expectations in the midst of sheer lack of specificity and uncertainty. Approaches we used in Pandemic Policing include:
  1. Tech-enabled pandemic monitoring.
- For instant transmission of important information to citizens - For 'Containment Zone' monitoring - For coordination among various line departments, supply chain agencies and citizens for easy movement of essential services and goods. - For data management - To monitor and take action on COVID lockdown violators who unnecessarily violated the 3 km rule in going out of their house quarantines, we used Citizen Tracking App for real time based monitoring. - For effective CCTV surveillance to ensure physical distancing in public spaces. - For drone surveillance to prevent covid safety protocol violations.
  1. Community Watch
Community watch method was used to monitor the movement of people in villages and towns by village police officers (VPOs) working in liaison with government officials, Village Revenue Officers (VROs), sarpanches, anganwadi workers by sharing information on a continuous basis. Community mobilization to prepare the citizenry to face the pandemic proved to be the most useful interventions.
  1. Crisis Communication.
We used all available sources of media to reach out to people to inform them of various interventions of government and to prepare them for lockdowns.
  1. Highway Food banks and Police run Community kitchens.
To feed the needy, poor and homeless during lockdown.
  1. Connecting citizens to essential services
  2. Embracing role as primary caregivers and Frontline warriors.
Constant training and motivation of the police officers to achieve this. What is one unexpected learning from 2020? I guess the fact that the pandemic brought all of us together. The world proved that it's a kinder place than we imagined. As a police officer, it reassured my belief that working closely with the communities is the key to improve our lives in general and to improve cop-community relationships in particular. We wanted to leave a legacy of mercy during a pandemic and we acted accordingly. What are your priorities for 2021? - To train my team further on effective Crisis Communication. - To focus more on wellness programs for my team - With more women joining the force, we will be spending a lot of time and resources in creating gender sensitive infrastructure. - To study the impact of technology in the post-pandemic world and to see if we need to re-invent/design our policing interventions. - To consistently train my teams in accountability and sensitivity. What advice would you give to women looking to start a career in GovTech? It's a great platform to engage in meaningful work that creates a lasting impact, and on a consistent basis. Write a message for your future self. "Promise to devote every waking minute of your life to service above self".