CHENNAI: The Greater Chennai corporation has received much praise for vigorously working on the ground to keep the virus at bay for a month now. The same goes for their active presence on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
Their quick disaster management skills has made it possible for those in distress to get relief almost immediately. In many instances, individual families and as well as institutions suffering without essentials have got immediate help from corporation by simply tagging them on twitter or using #Covid19Chennai.
After March 24, the number of followers on Twitter jumped from 4,000 to a whopping 36,000 people. While 3,000 more people followed them on Facebook after lockdown, taking the toll to 25,000 followers.
The social media team of the corporation maintaining both the handles consist of 10-15 members who work around the clock. Right from disseminating correct information, helping those who don't have access to essentials, coordinating possible Covid positive patients through the testing process and much more are the daily activities of the social media team.
A senior official on the team described how help was provided to 12-13 disabled persons staying at a home in Puzhal, even though they did not fall under corporation limits. "We were tagged in post on twitter late in the evening on a weekend. Though Puzhal falls outside our jurisdiction I alerted the regional deputy commissioner who got in touch with the zonal officer. The next day a mini van with rice and other provisions were delivered to them," he added.
Unlike handles of other government agencies, corporation's twitter inbox is open for direct messages. Many don't prefer to tweet publicly about their health problems, doubts about vaccination and pregnancy, said an official. On an average they receive about 400 messages everyday.
A team member said that they receive many medical clarifications as messages, out of which queries from pregnant women are the most. Since March 24, just through the Twitter handle, corporation has facilitated 30 deliveries. "Yesterday, one person wanted to travel back home to Neyveli with his pregnant wife. We put him in touch with local doctors as his wife was very stressed. We also helped him to get a pass for emergency travel," said the member.
In another instance, when a twitter user alerted the corporation that his sister was suffering from typhoid and wanted her to be checked for Covid19, the social media team swung into action. Concerned doctors were alerted by the team, transportation was arranged to and from the hospital and constant follow-up through phone was also done.
My sister, who was having fever from two weeks (typhoid), was asked to check for Covid as a precautionary. She contacted @chennaicorp & they took care of her throughout, from pick to hosp and being with her through check up and dropping back. Just amazed. Thank you #ChennaiCorp— Gnanashekar (@Gnanashekar) April 6, 2020
For Facebook the team plans to introduce an interactive chatbot as more followers want basic doubts to be cleared here. Data simplified by interactive info graphs, pie-charts and alerts through colourful posters has made it easier for many to follow instructions put out by the government.