Panic buttons, AI and drones: police plan for women’s safety in Mumbai

In the aftermath of the brutal gang rape and murder case in New Delhi on December 16, 2012, the Centre had announced the allocation of the Nirbhaya Fund to be used exclusively for projects addressing women safety.

Written by Rashmi Rajput | Mumbai | Updated: May 25, 2018 7:26:15 am
Panic buttons, AI and drones: police plan for women’s safety in Mumbai The proposal also mentions the use of drones to survey vantage points. (Representational photo)

Panic buttons at select locations, mapping crime hotspots and drones for aerial surveys. These are among the features of the Rs 252-crore “safe city project for women” that Mumbai Police will soon roll out. The project was approved recently and the Mumbai Police is expected to outsource it to a project management consultant.

The panic buttons installed at locations across the city, when pushed, will set off an alarm in police control rooms and trigger a quick response from the nearest positioned patrol and response vehicles, including two-wheelers with dash cameras to nab offenders and rescue victims.

“Before installing these panic buttons, we will first get a geographic information system (GIS) of criminal hotspots in the city done and then, based on the areas where crime against women like rape, molestation, groping or such offences have been reported, these panic buttons will be installed,” said a senior official from the Maharashtra home department.

“They will be under CCTV cover with panoramic cameras, Artificial Intelligence (AI) like facial recognition software and other video analytical skills that will help transmit information in real time and enable the patrolling team to move quickly.”

In the aftermath of the brutal gang rape and murder of a 23-year old woman in New Delhi on December 16, 2012, the Centre had announced the allocation of the Nirbhaya Fund to be used exclusively for projects addressing women safety.

In March, the Centre approved projects worth Rs 2,919 crore in eight cities from this Fund to create “safe cities”. Mumbai, with the Rs 252 crore proposal by Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) KMM Prasanna is the first to utilise the Nirbhaya Fund.

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“While in other cities it been done in collaboration between the police and the civic administration, in case of Mumbai it will be supervised by Mumbai Police,” according to officials.

According to a senior home department official, the three-year plan has allocated Rs 199.45 crore for technology enhancements including the procurement of video surveillance devices and GIS mapping of criminal hot-spots. The official said that a Track-me solution, including the Track me mobile application and QR Code, will address social media abuse tracking/cyber forensics and big data analytics and mobile data terminals.

Another Rs 12.46 crore will be spent on capacity building for training and sensitisation of police officers and Rs 13.67 crore on awareness programmes. Th police will also spend Rs 19.83 crore on outreach programmes, of which Rs.17.50 crore is proposed for a seven-seater patrol and response vehicle with mounted cameras and customised, gearless 2-wheelers with dash cameras.

“Around 10 percent of the funds have been reserved for this initiative and this could be availed as and when there is a new scheme that looks effective to ensure the safety of women has been proposed,” the official said.

The proposal also mentions the use of drones to survey vantage points. “The initial plan is to procure two drones and an equal number of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and around Rs 7 crore has been reserved for this, “ said the official.

“Lighting of underpasses and foot over bridges” has been included in the proposal under the header “GIS mapping of criminal hotspots”. This is to enhance the safety of women in deserted places through increased camera coverage, better and efficient lighting and CCTV coverage.

“Reduced response time for any incident by equipping the department with patrol vehicles, dash-cam enabled vehicles, UAVs etc. Positive behavioural change in police personnel and public towards the empathetic treatment of survivors. Improved awareness towards laws, programs, safety through structured and strengthened outreach programs for citizens,” are some of the objectives of the programme.

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