A year after the project was first announced, the Mumbai Police has fitted global positioning system (GPS) on patrol cars attached to each of the city’s police stations. In the next phase, GPS mobile data terminals (MDTs) will also be provided to policemen patrolling on two-wheelers.
Last October, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had announced that police patrol cars would be fitted with GPS to ensure better coordination with the police control room with the aim of identifying bottlenecks in road traffic and minimising the time taken by the police to reach the scene of an incident.
In January this year, the project began on a trial basis, with patrol cars at certain police stations equipped with specially modified Samsung tablets. Depending on the requirement, 3-4 patrol vehicles were fitted with the tablets at each police station. The tablets run on mobile internet data and enable the control room to track the location of each car across the city, according to officials.
Inside the Mumbai Police’s revamped control room at Crawford Market headquarters, a dedicated squad of men and women watch the progress of patrol cars spread across a large map of the city. A call for help is directed by the 48 call takers manning the toll-free emergency number ‘100’ to the dispatch section, which locates a vehicle on the ground.
“Whenever we receive a call asking for help, we note the location from where the call is made and search for the nearest police vehicle,” said an officer at the control room. This is in addition to messages being relayed over the police’s wireless network.
The MDTs display the caller’s phone number and location to the personnel in the patrol car. “Already, we have noticed that the time taken to respond to a distress call has reduced to between 7 and 8 minutes from the earlier average of 9 to 10 minutes,” said an official monitoring the project.
A senior police official, who did not wish to be named, said since the project was rolled out at all police stations across the city, there had been an improvement in preventing crime. “We are also able to help victims of road accidents, who would previously be left injured on the road for as much as thirty minutes. We are able to save lives,” said the official.
According to a constable using the MDTs, the tablet’s touch plastic frame ensures durability and makes it ideal for use in different weather conditions. In the next few months, the MDTs will be given to beat marshals patrolling localities on motorbikes. “We will begin with two beat marshals at each of Mumbai’s 94 police stations and eventually equip others. The important thing for us is to impart training to several personnel so that there is no gap in case someone trained to use the mobile systems is transferred to another department,” said the officer.