The IIT Bombay will soon launch a research centre aimed at creating indigenous solutions to the needs of homeland security agencies in India. With the first meeting concluded last week,an advisory board is the next step,with the research centre to start in two months,confirmed officials.
Outside of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and other military departments,this will be the first time that an educational institute will have a dedicated cell for developing security prototypes for state and central forces.
In its initial stage,it will be a virtual research base with experts and professors from 30 departments working together to build a body of work in Mumbai.
While a number of projects are underway for the Mumbai Police,IIT-B also has helped the Force One in sensitive projects that aim to improve their response abilities. In a recent security summit,Force One chief Sadanand Date spoke on an IIT designed magazine coupler,which helped in reducing the time taken to change magazines by a few seconds,a very crucial aspect during a counter attack. Other departments like computer science,mechanical engineering,aerospace engineering,electrical engineering are already working on various needs of Force One,including communications system,areas of gadgets and techniques used in combat etc.
This research centre is an extension of all these initiatives where we provided considerable know-how. We want to now go deeper in various areas like cyber crime,robotics,video imaging,gadgetry and communication, said an IIT official. Video imaging is one area that IIT-B is working on and is devising techniques on getting better results by piecing together various captured images.
According to officials,while the institute will look to develop prototypes,their advisory role will also see them helping the security agencies get a better sense of the available technology across the world and develop an appreciation for it. Most of the specifications for purchase of goods are based on vendor-driven viewpoint,which sometimes has the risk of creating a bias towards a specific vendor. The institute can help the agency build specifications on their need to help them choose the right product, said the official. The other most important need for collaborating with security forces is to understand the ground realities and the equipment and technique they require. The need to look at partners inside the border is actually strategic as one cannot be comfortable if your bulk needs in security,from the most basic to the most advanced,are routed through imports from other countries. In simple purchases,there is always a threat of malware or also the lack of control over the design. It is otherwise too a big strategic issue, said the official.
Apart from designing solutions,the centre would also have separate wings to look after training and technology appreciation.
There is also a cost competitiveness that one gains with investments made in research locally. Also,we are in a better position to discuss our needs with confidence with our own agencies, said Date.