Monday , 22 April 2019

Cameras That Spare No Traffic Violators

As a smart city Panaji is going to set up surveillance cameras all over. Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Ltd (IPSCDL), the special purpose vehicle formed to make Panaji a smart city, has permitted different companies to install four high definition CCTV cameras at various locations on a trial basis. The IPSCDL will evaluate the performance of the four cameras before awarding the contract to a company. The trial is a part of the tendering process to finalise the vendor to operate the Goa Intelligent City Management System (GICMS) under the Smart City Mission. Four companies – BSNL, Honeywell, L&T and NEC – are participating in the tendering process for supply and installation of CCTV cameras in the city. The cameras are going to use licence plate and facial recognition technology and capture any traffic violations as well as suspicious activities. The award of the contract for installation of CCTV cameras is likely to be completed next month, so we can hope the capital city’s roads would soon have surveillance in place.

The need for CCTV cameras has been felt for long but for some mysterious reasons the authorities have been indecisive on the issue. The growth of vehicular population and large scale violation of traffic rules by motorists and two-wheeler riders has made it absolutely necessary that CCTV cameras and traffic signals be installed to enforce adherence to traffic rules across the state. The trial would help the authorities to identify the shortcomings and to take steps to ensure that a reliable surveillance system is set up in the city. The HD cameras that are going to be used are capable of detecting traffic violations. They are also useful to detect persons moving about with motives to commit crime. To make the surveillance system effective, the control room should be managed by the law enforcing officials, the police and road transport departments, with the active participation of the officials of the IPSCDL. While bringing the city under CCTV surveillance the authorities need to ensure that all scope for manipulation or alibi are removed and the zebra crossing markings and other traffic indicators are  put in place before the onset of monsoon.

CCTV cameras have been effectively used by police in different cities and states of the country. The CCTV cameras installed in Mumbai are used for instantly uploading e-challans with the time and place of violation along with photographs. The system is realistic and free from manipulation and lessens burden on the traffic police, who could be deployed elsewhere on management of traffic. Given the fact that thousands of accidents take place in the state in which around 330 lives have been lost continuously for the last five years, it is more than necessary to record  common traffic violations as also cases of using mobile phones while driving, over-speeding, failure to fasten seat belts and wrong overtaking. In view of the fact that fines for traffic laws are paltry, the authorities need to quickly decide to raise them so that traffic violation becomes a costly affair and deterrent.

Above all, the state government needs to reorganize working in the police and transport departments and deploy adequate manpower and technology support to ensure quick action on the feeds from the CCTV cameras. Once the cameras are installed, the two departments would be flooded with cases of violations; the challans have to be issued and other actions have to be taken promptly, else violators would not take the surveillance seriously. So far, traffic violators have been caught on a random basis. It is not possible for the law enforcement authorities to maintain checks and vigilance on all roads during the day and night. The surveillance cameras would spare no violators. However, quick action is the key to the success of the surveillance system. Goa is a small state and CCTV cameras and other surveillance systems could help in monitoring the whole of state effectively. The state government should get surveillance systems installed across Goa. Installation of CCTV cameras and issue of e-challans would help in curbing corruption of law enforcement officials to a large extent as the contact between law enforcing officials and the violators of traffic rules would be minimal. Use of electronic surveillance system would do away with manipulations and lessen burden on the law enforcement officials, who could devote their time in handling other issues. Care has to be taken that the CCTV cameras are protected from damage by anti-social and unscrupulous elements. As Goa receives fairly above average rainfall the authorities need to ensure that the cameras can endure heavy rainfall.

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