The Nov/Dec issue of the MIT Technology Review is devoted to Big Solutions. In the cover story, “Why We Can’t Solve Big Problems,” editor Jason Pontin points out that technology alone is not enough to overcome our biggest obstacles.
Until recently Nepal’s laws against drunk-driving were rarely enforced in practice. According to The Economist, things changed when Ganesh Rai assumed the reigns of Nepal’s Traffic Police. Bolstered by a scheme in which officers keep one-sixth of the fines they collect from drunk-drivers, Rai’s policy of zero tolerance appears to have significantly reduced Kathmandu’s traffic accidents, along with other alcohol-fueled crimes such as domestic violence.
The drunk-driving crackdown comes amid a broader effort to measure police performance and hold officers accountable for doing their job:
Meanwhile Mr Rai has introduced monthly evaluations, where accident statistics, fines levied and complaints received are compared among units across the city. Police appear more willing to crack down on other offences, and the numbers suggest that petty corruption has fallen.
Here again we see the introduction of basic management practices leading to what appear to be significant gains in policing effectiveness: set goals, measure performance, see what works, and hold people accountable.