S Suresh Kumar
Joint Secretary (Centre-State),
Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India
S Suresh Kumar, provides his views on CCTNS, landmark e-Governance Mission Mode Project under the National e-Governance Plan(NeGP). CCTNS is being implemented to create a comprehensive and integrated system for effective policing and sharing the data of crimes and criminals
In the current law and order scenario of the country, the CCTNS Mission Mode Project appears to have a very significant importance for crime control. Please tell us how did the concept of CCTNS evolve?
The CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems) Programme has been conceived as a Mission Mode Project fully sponsored by the Government of India under the National e-Governance Plan. CCTNS has evolved from the knowledge and learnings gathered from the erstwhile Common Integrated Police Application (CIPA) programme. CIPA had been initiated to computerise and automate the functioning of police stations with a view to bringing in efficiency and transparency in various processes and functions at the police station level and improve service delivery to the citizens.
However, the CIPA programme was found to be progressing too slowly. Also it was talking about only computerisation; it did not have the power for facilitating exchange of information. Even after the computerisation, the various police stations around the country would have remained like isolated islands. Around 2009, we came to this realisation that we need to go beyond CIPA. So based on all the best practices that were available at that point of time and on the advice of DietY, we went in for the CCTNS programme.
CIPA has since been subsumed into the CCTNS programme. The goals of the system are to facilitate collection, storage, retrieval, analysis, transfer and sharing of data and information at the police station and between the police station and the state headquarters and the Central Police Organisations.
How smooth has been the experience of bringing CCTNS programme to the country so far?
Actually we have found that the existing process of procurement is a major stumbling block in the speedy implementation of CCTNS. Many states are finding it difficult to finalise the System Integrators (SI) for the implementation of CCTNS.
The System Integrator has to be hired for supplying the software, the hardware, customising the software, integrate the entire set of processes and systems and also maintain the SLAs.
The CCTNS is being planned in such a way that while the policy making is centralised, the actual implementation is being done at the state level. Now states have very little exposure to procurement of this kind, so there are obvious hiccups.
Some states had to go through a lengthy process; at times RFP (Request for Proposals) had to be issued three or four times. We did lot of capacity building for facilitating progress in the actual implementation. We also appointed project management units. We also had some issues with our own applications, but these have by now been resolved.
By when can we expect CCTNS to be fully implemented in the country? How much work has already been done, and how much remains to be done?
Most states in the country have now been able to select their System Integrators and so rapid progress is currently being made in the implementation. In various states the project is under different stages of implementation. For instance, the state of Karnataka has already completed its entire implementation. They are now at the cusp of bringing into operation their entire system of CCTNS. At the same time we have some states where the work is yet to start. It’s like a normal distribution curve, some people are very far ahead, and some are yet to start their operations.
What about the data centres that will be needed for CCTNS? Are they fully operational?
All the data centres have been brought up. The disaster recovery centres have also been brought up. All issues related to connectivity, permissions, etc., have also been resolved. The linking up of data centres with the NCRB is also complete. This is one major activity that has been completed. However, the issue that we are facing now is that of man management in data digitisation. This is a very heavy task as we have stipulated that the data for at least last 10 years should be digitised. Mostly the cases related to crime, property and the like, that are being digitised. The minor issues are not being digitised at the moment. The thing is that if a police station has at least 10 years of legacy data with itself, it will be able to function more smoothly. We are further improving our processes by implementing the lessons that we have learned so far. About 10 percent of the work for CCTNS has already been done. By 31st March of this year another 30 percent will get done. By end of June 2013 we would like to complete another 40 percent. And the remaining 10 percent we would like to finish by end of August this year. We still have a few remotest police stations that are yet to come on the VSAT or the WiMAX. That will be resolved in next five or six months. We also face issues as many police stations are in the process of either being shifted, constructed or are not having enough space. These issues also need to be addressed.
Do you think that lack of electricity in certain areas can also be a cause for concern?
That is the case. Police stations in remote areas often have to do without any power supply for days. CCTNS would intend to embrace all available platforms, including mobile phones. Emergency or intelligence alerts would be sent to senior police officers via SMS alerts under the system.
Any application software is always a work in progress. It has to be constantly updated with new features. How do you ensure that the applications and hardware deployed in CCTNS do not become stagnant and keep evolving through new knowledge?
The security systems deployed like Firewalls, etc., are built into the system so that is not an issue. But the fact is that the end users of CCTNS have the habit of constantly changing the goal posts. New requirements and requests keep coming in and that has to be implemented. Constantly enhancing the software does become a bit of a constraint.
“CC TNS has evolved from knowledge gathered from the erstwhile Common Integrated Police Application (CIPA) programme”
What about the issue of language? Different states have different languages, so how does CCTNS centralise the data that is in different languages?
Many of the states are operating in Hindi or English. However, we do have states that are operating in regional languages like Marathi, Gujarati, Telgu, Tamil, and few others. Now we have transliteration software available with C-DAC. It does not do the translation, it only does transliteration. This software is expected to start providing more accurate results with usage. As you keep using and as you make new inputs, the system keeps improving on its own.
At times people in the country are unable to receive copies of the FIRs. This problem will get resolved with the CCTNS through which it is being said that people can download copies of the FIRs filed. But what is being done to take care of the privacy related issues?
There are lot of legal issues that are involved in this. Privacy issues are also there. How much information can you put on the internet? How much can people access? How much can they download
We have also contemplated the idea of putting digital signatures on the FIRs filed online. You see, if you want people to file an FIR online, you have to be in a position to be able to ascertain the identity of the person. Otherwise we could have miscreants filing online FIRs just to create a nuisance in the society. These issues are coming up, and we are hopeful that we will soon be able to sort out these issues. Ultimately the CCTNS system will be coming up on the National e-Governance Service Delivery Gateway (NSDG). The states will be coming up on the SSDG. Through these platforms lot of citizen services will become available, thus leading to more transparency and accountability. For the services like passports, driving licences, etc., we will be able to conduct verification of the individuals in a quick and seamless manner. The past records of any citizen can be examined very easily.
CCTNS is also expected to improve the crime detection and investigation mechanism in the country by bringing many new tools and technologies to the police. Please provide us your views on this.
The most useful technology would be that of fingerprinting. We are developing an Automatic Finger Print Identification and Management System. A facial recognition system is also going to be implemented. We are also going to develop the system of mobile terminals, so that when people go to a scene of crime, they can record their experiences in a digital medium on the spot, instead of having to come back to their station and typing it on the computer. The GIS technology will be used to identify the location from where a particular call is coming.