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Mumbai: Sensor mats used at Kumbh to be tried at stations

At present, 276 personnel of Maharashtra Security Force (MSF) are posted at different FOBs and in trains to manage crowds.

Written by Neha Kulkarni | Mumbai |
April 4, 2018 2:23:57 am
Mumbai: Sensor mats used at Kumbh to be tried at stations 23 commuters died in a stampede on the foot overbridge at Elphinstone Road station on September 29, 2017. (File photo)

IN ORDER to assess crowd movement at railway stations, the Central Railway (CR) aims to adopt Ashioto crowd analytics, a system that uses a floor mat equipped with sensors to count the footfall. Used at the Kumbh Mela in 2015 in Nashik, the system could help authorities take preventive measures to assess crowding at railway stations, officials believe.

The Ashioto crowd analytics is a start-up of Nashik-based 18-year-old Nilay Kulkarni which finds technology solutions for crowd management. Through the sensors in the mat, the crowd-density can be assessed.

“As a starter, we plan to install these mats on foot overbridges (FOB) of crowded railway stations. This will help us assess the rate of commuters using the bridges, especially during peak hours,” S K Jain, Divisional Railway Manager, Central Railway said. The mat will be tested at major stations including CSMT, Dadar, Thane and Kalyan.

After 23 commuters died in a stampede on the foot overbridge at Elphinstone Road station on September 29, 2017, officials aim to take additional steps for crowd management at stations. At present, 276 personnel of Maharashtra Security Force (MSF) are posted at different FOBs and in trains to manage crowds.

“The mats will be one of the first steps taken to assess the crowds at railway stations. We are inviting Kulkarni to guide RPF officials on the crowd management techniques,” Jain added.

In the first phase, the mats will be installed at either Dadar or Thane stations. Mats would be installed on one of the widely used foot overbridges at the station and regular monitoring will be done. Officials said the mat can synchronise with the train timings to improve predictions.

The Central Railway also plans to increase the cover of CCTV cameras across foot overbridges at stations. Explaining why equipping cameras with video analytics could be difficult at railway stations, a senior railway official said, “Video analytics requires advanced cameras to analyse the crowd movement at specific railway stations. As CR does not have that many advanced cameras across stations, application of this technology is difficult.”

While Kulkarni is expected to be in Mumbai this weekend, CR is yet to decide on when the mats could be placed at stations. The CR also plans to install as many as 288 escalators across railway stations by the year end.

“We are also taking additional preventive measures ahead of monsoon to ensure no train stops during the rains. Among these, we will co-ordinate with BMC to ensure cleaning of culverts, pipes and railway stations before monsoon. We also plan to install two pipes that can pump out water from tracks more quickly at Kurla and another railway station on the Central Railway,” Jain added.

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