December 2012

Improving Law & Order with Technology

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Sharat Kaviraj, SP (State Crime Records Bureau) SCRB, Rajasthan

“Without the deployment of latest solutions from technology there cannot be any good governance in the country, which is home to more than 125 crore people,” says Sharat Kaviraj in conversation with Nayana Singh

After going through  the Rajasthan police web portal we can only come to the realisation that this is a  very vibrant web portal. In your opinion, what are the
best features of this portal?

This web portal is unique in many respects, as it is capable of providing information on every person working in the field. You can even look for information on a constable in this website. We have made the whole portal dynamic so that everyone can update their data and it is accessible to all. As  far as the common man is concerned, the first thing he sees is that he can go  own to the beat level. We also upload the website with details on absconders, criminals who have been prosecuted; their names and addresses have been uploaded on the portal. This enables the common man to keep track of all the absconders. Citizens can provide the police information on criminal elements. This has led to a phenomenal rise in the number of arrests  being made. Such cooperation from the general public is a historic achievement for us. We have made a provision for Community Liaisoning Group (CLG). Their numbers are also very large; the total number of CLG members is more than one lakh. We have put their details on our website. From the perspective of the citizen, the last mile policing is done at the community level by CLG members and at the police level by the beat constable. And both the ends are available on the portal.

What are the ways by which the Rajasthan police website acts as a gateway for day-to-day policing?

All the police stations in the state log on to the portal every day. They have to update basic information such as information on FIRs registered, etc. Hence, the website is also acting as
an information gathering and reporting tool within the department. We have also identified anti-social elements; the list is very large, as it comprises of more than 60,000 people. The entire database of such criminals is available on the website. Such a large database of criminal elements is not available in the web format anywhere else in the country. Then we have the CDR Analysis tool. This means that for the common IO, some basic things can be analysed. There is also the accident related data, whereby we use Google Maps to plot all the accident sites. Now we are also going for mobile based SMS services. Under this the citizen needs to send an SMS to the server and he will get mobile number of the officer he
needs to speak to. Hence, this portal has many unique things.

What sort of feedback is the portal receiving from the citizens?

If you see in terms of hits and the statistics of State Data Centre, our portal is one of the busiest in Rajasthan today. The number of hits had crossed 16 lakh (the last time I checked). And it’s not just the police who are regularly logging in. There is regular participation from citizens. If there is even a slight change in the features of the portal, we start getting enquiry calls from citizens. This shows that response has been very positive. Within department also the response has been positive. In fact, I would say that the portal has prepared the police for the upcoming CCTNS Project, which is going to be a network project. Capacity building for the project has been done by this portal.

The Delhi traffic police already has a page on Facebook that has been well received by the public. So talking about the social media, do you think it is the apt place for the presence of the police?

I see no reason why we should not be present on any new forum where common citizens tend to congregate. In such forums good amount of discussion on policing related issues can be conducted. I strongly feel that ultimately good policing cannot happen without community participation. Having presence on social media is a welcome idea. We are currently trying to devise mechanisms to enhance our presence in the social media.

Many analysts are of the opinion that there continues to exist a strong element of digital divide in the country. Do you think that this digital divide will make it
impossible for certain sections of the population to take advantage of the online initiatives that the police is taking?

I feel very strongly that this notion of digital divide as far as citizen services are concerned is not really true for the country. If you take a look at the people who have made Aadhaar cards, you’ll find that it is mostly the poor people who have done so. If you see the portal called Sugam (http://sugamrpg.raj. nic.in/), where online grievances can be registered, you will find that maximum grievances have been registered for the police department. When people become aware that there is a method by which we can approach the services of the government without being exploited, then their understanding of services becomes much higher. Moreover, these days we have the system of CSCs, where people can get their online forms filled.

“In terms of hits and the statistics of State Data Centre, our portal is one of the busiest in Rajasthan”

In the developed countries, high-end technology, such as biometric solutions and the GPS are available for tracking criminals. Where do we stand, vis-à-vis the developed countries?

We also capture fingerprints of criminals, but right now there is a major gap between the potential that biometric solutions offer and what we are putting to use. There exists a huge
potential for us to upgrade our systems to take further advantage of new technologies.

Rajasthan is one state where law and order is not out of hand, but very much under control. What is your vision of improving the system further?

One large project that’s coming up at national level is CCTNS, which will act as a gamechanger. So far, it is very difficult to ascertain the criminal record of any one person because  the data is not centralised. Once the CCTNS is in place, all police stations will get connected at the national level and there shall be sharing of data. Once you have a base like that, you can build many layers of finer details, and do a lot of things with that database. This will be a large initiative for not just states like Rajasthan where perceived problems are less, but  throughout the country. The second thing is that there is a gap in the essential systems for policing, as we don’t have a database, and there is no common standards by which you can  track people. All these changes are basically systemic in nature. But now the gaps are being addressed. We have Aadhaar card, PAN cards and a lot of  e-Governance initiatives in different areas. Such systems are leading to the creation of a database of citizens, anyone who commits crime, will get caught due to such systems.

Do you believe that technology is an integral part of good governance?

I strongly believe that without the deployment of latest solutions from technology there cannot be any good governance in a country, which is home to more than 125 crore people. So we are full-time working on technology.

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