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Thursday, October 29, 2020

Pune: App to help cops track externed criminals

The facial recognition and geolocation based application ExTra (Externees monitoring and Tracking system) is a spin-off of the Home Quarantine Tracking System (HQTS) used initially by Pune police and all Maharashtra police to monitor the people who have been asked to remain in home quarantine.

By: Express News Service | Pune | Updated: June 15, 2020 1:43:16 pm
Pune City police operationalised ExTra on an experimental basis from Saturday. (Representational)

AS a spin-off of the geolocation based phone application used for tracking home quarantined persons, Pune police have launched an application named ExTra for tracking and monitoring the criminals who have been externed from police limits.

The facial recognition and geolocation based application ExTra (Externees monitoring and Tracking system) is a spin-off of the Home Quarantine Tracking System (HQTS) used initially by Pune police and all Maharashtra police to monitor the people who have been asked to remain in home quarantine. Pune City police have operationalised ExTra on an experimental basis from Saturday.

The Maharashtra Police Act empowers the police officer of Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) or Superintendent of Police (SP) rank to extern a criminal from their jurisdiction if there is reasonable belief that the said person can pose danger to law and order based on past record. The recommendation for externment is made at the police station level, followed by an inquiry by an Assistant Commissioner of Deputy Superintendent of Police. The DCP or an SP subsequently issues the externment notice banishing a criminal from a jurisdiction for a period of one or two years. The externment order is subject to judicial scrutiny. The said history-sheeter can be booked if found to be in the area from where the order has been issued.

While the externment is a time-tested measure for controlling criminal activities and also a deterrent, the police jurisdictions across Maharashtra have faced the problem of externed criminals violating their orders and again getting involved in criminal activities. The newly developed ExTra app is being used on an experimental basis and will be finetuned in coming days as a tech-based solution to this problem, officials said.

The application requires externed criminal to download the ExTra app and do a one time registration on a mobile phone. The concerned police authority then approves the registration, after which the externee is required to mark attendance through a selfie at an indicated or a surprise notifications. The person’s selfie associated geo location and time of attendance is tracked through Artificial Intelligence algorithms. Real time alerts are raised if the uploaded selfie does not match the registered face or if the virtual geo-fence around Pune city is breached.

“COVID pandemic has made police take up many tech based applications for various policing duties. Criminal surveillance is an integral part of police work. In view of this, an application was sought which could help monitor the externed criminals through digital means so that physical checking can be minimised. ExTra is a modified version of HQTS which was implemented for tracking quarantine patients at the onset of lockdown. The HQTS application was customised to track externed criminals.” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) Bachchan Singh.

The application has been Vijna Labs for Pune city police. DCP Bachchan Singh and ACP Shivaji Pawar have played key role in development and implementation of the solution under guidance Police Commissioner K Venkatesham, Joint Commissioner Ravindra Shisve, Additional Commissioner (Crime) Ashok Morale.

On Saturday Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 5) Suhas Bawache issued the first such externment order which was logged on to the application. DCP Singh further said, “This system can ensure effective and foolproof monitoring of externed criminal, directly from police control rooms. Efforts have been made to ensure no infringement on privacy or the person, hence the location is not taken constantly, and alert is sent only when the geo-fence is breached. Such use of advanced technologies based on AI reduces the dependency on in-person verification and in turn reduce the crime rate due to violations of externment order. Above all reduced the inherent risk for policemen in the process of the checking on the criminals.”

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