Published : Egov Reach
An alumnus of IIT Delhi, Praveen Sood is an Indian Police Service officer (1986 batch) of Karnataka cadre. He is a staunch supporter of the use of technology in traffic management and delivery of services to the citizens. During his stint as the additional commissioner of police, traffic (2008-2011), he established the most advanced traffic management centre in Bangalore city. He has been awarded for improving the traffic law enforcement with the help of technology. He is presently involved in replicating the Bangalore model of technology-driven traffic management in the entire state. He is also overseeing implementation of CCTNS and linking of service delivery under CCTNS with the Karnataka Guarantee of Services to Citizens Act. In an interview with Pratap Vikram Singh and Shivangi Narayan, Sood talks about the application of technology for empowering citizens and making Bangalore city safer
Q. What all has been done for modernisation of police in Karnataka?
We have done a lot of computerisation. In Karnataka we are 100 pc networked. Everything is on the same network. We have MPLS (network) lines and virtual private network.
There is no dearth of hardware. Go to every police station, and you will find five computers, 2-3 printers, scanners, at each of the stations.
Capacity building is a challenge and is a long term process. We have trained 20,000 policemen on basic IT. Five thousand policemen have been trained on role based IT (to work on applications such as crime and criminal tracking and network systems, CCTNS). Training is a continuous process.
Another major application in use is enterprise resource planning (ERP). For most of the states, central government is developing the application under CCTNS called core application software, CAS. We already had such an app called Police IT (ERP solution) in 2004. The same application has become CCTNS. We have customised the same as per the requirements under CCTNS.
Q. Is there any convergence between CCTNS and public service guarantee legislation?
Citizen centric services are the most important component of CCTNS. We are the only state which has made appreciable progress in services delivery. In governance we have made speedy progress. The Karnataka public services guarantee act came in effect in April 2012. The services, under the legislation, will be given in a prescribed time. The legislation covers 21 services of the police department. If an applicant does not get service in the time limit he can appeal and get compensation and that compensation will be taken from the officer. This act will be highly manipulative and prone to exploitation unless there is an electronic system to monitor the in and out time of application.
In Karnataka, all the services are captured and delivered with the help of CCTNS software at the same time when someone comes to register a complaint.
We realised that these 21 services have 21 forms. First you have to go to SP’s office or police to collect the form, then go home, fill all the particulars and come back. We said, no. We decided to have a single form for all 21 services. Forms can be downloaded. Why should a citizen travel to offices just to collect forms and why should we have 21 forms when every police office only asks whether there is a crime against you or not, with a little variation. So you can add every variation into a single form.
Many of these verifications have a fee. Previously, you would fill the form and go to the office who will check and ask for a fee and give a challan. You will go to treasury or bank and pay the challan and get the receipt and again come back. This is when the officer will finally receive your application. this is the procedure everywhere planned to harass a common man.
So we created a payment gateway. We have Bangalore One centres. You can fill the form and go to any Bangalore One centres or go through the net where there is a service fee of Rs 5. No one minds a service fee of Rs 5 because the cost of going to the office again and again is even higher.
Q. What is the process involved?
So now the procedure is, you download the form from the internet, fill it and pay the fee on the internet. When you finally come to the office with the receipt, you have already saved four trips and lots of time and now you are making a single trip.
In the office, you give the application with challan and I give you the acknowledgement. That acknowledgment is generated by the system. The moment it is loaded, it generates a 15 digit GSC number along with an acknowledgement. This is the guarantee of services to the citizens number which is like a railway PNR number. You can track the progress of the GSC number on the portal. The only challenge is the awareness of the people who need to demand the GSC number. Not even 30 to 40 percent people know that there is a GSC number they need to ask for. There is no solution for it, only empowerment will do the trick.
So far we have generated seven lakh GSC numbers since last April, it doesn’t constitute even 50 percent potential of the system.
The application after being received will flow on the internet not through files manually. The actual work on the police case is not much, just that the file movement takes ages. It is the thanedar (SHO) who needs to work, everyone else is a parasite.
The technology needs to be in sync with the people.
When it comes back to the commissioner office, who accepts on the rejects it, the service is ready for delivery. And this has to be done within the specified period. The portal daily shows the number of services which have shot their time and the number of such services is 1,500 which I according to me is acceptable. We receive 50,000 plus service requests a month, so 1500 default is okay.
The verification is done online because today we have most of the data online so today it is easier to verify online. The moment it is verified and approved then the service is ready for delivery.
Internet penetration in Karnataka is very good, as compared to the other states. However, we realised why should a person check on the portal whether his service is ready for deliver. Therefore we created an SMS gateway. So coming back to when the person gave his application to the officer and he gave him a GSC number and an acknowledgment. At this moment, the officer is supposed to capture the mobile number of the applicant in the system. We went for SMS gateway because mobile penetration is 100 percent (almost). The moment the person submits his application, he will get an SMS that today is day zero of your service.
When the approved or rejected, the person gets another SMS alert.
Everyone knows that his work has to be done in 20 days, he doesn’t have to check the portal.
People give FIR, but they never come to know what happened to that FIR. We said that it is the right of the citizen to know what happened to his FIR within 60 or 90 days depending on the nature of his complain.
Hence we made FIR registration a service. So there will be a GSC number for every FIR in any part of Karnataka and will trigger an SMS. We register 1.5 lakh FIR/year. When FIR closes, it will generate an SMS (every FIR has to close in three ways – b (false cases), c (true case but cannot find any lead) report or charge sheeted)
There is no manual FIR in Karnataka since 2010 so the FIR has to go in the system. There is no other way. You will get an instant SMS when you register an FIR. FIR goes in the system, otherwise within half an hour. When it comes in the system, even God can’t change it. it goes in the DC and no one can change it (so there is huge resistance)
So every FIR will have a GSC number and a person has the power to know about what happened to his case.
This is what we have done in mobile service delivery. In 21 services, 15 services are the police verifications of the various kinds (passport, NOC, microphone etc).
Then we are also giving copy of FIR within half an hour, it is a basic right of the citizen.
I don’t think any state has created this set up where we are giving information about registration of services and that his service is ready for delivery. These are local innovations and not part of the original CCTNS project.
All this has been possible because CCTNS has been in place or Police IT is in place.
Q. What is the status of capacity building initiative?
We have on an average 7-8 computers in the police station. I have kept two computers away from the system where the officers can do whatever they want. I ask my policemen to spoil them to get hands on training in the computers so that they are well versed in computers. Constables will not learn if you threaten them.
Q. Please elaborate on the evidence-based enforcement project, B-Track, of the Bangalore Traffic police? Has it been scaled across the state?
Initially, B-Track was implemented in Bangalore and now all components of project have percolated to district headquarters in Karnataka. With very little investment, the system has percolated to the entire Karnataka. There were 1000 systems in Bangalore, we have created 350 more systems in the state and plugged it on to the same system. I have not created more systems – same servers, same software are being used. We just had to install software and training. The whole system is on BlackBerry, BB (the beat constables have been given BlackBerry with required software applications).
Leakages (in traffic challan collection) have been plugged. Money was coming but was not coming in to the system.
When you have a transparent, objective and scientific system to collect fines, the confidence of the public increases and the willingness to pay (for challan) increases.
There is a change in attitude of people driving on Bangalore streets. You should check the statistics. “Give me BB receipt,” is often requested by people during challans. Enforcement statistics have gone up. The fatality statistics have come down by 30 percent. Injuries have come down. BlackBerry has become synonym for transparency. Increased penalization, less leakages, better discipline, safer traffic.
Is the traffic moving faster? I would say no. The mandate is to make it safer not faster.
In the conventional system, only 15 percent people pay their notices. In 100 notices, 50 will go to people who have sold their vehicles 10 yrs back. There is no penalty for transferring the data and the data is never transferred. So the notices will go to the old address which will be thrown away.
In India, there is an incentive in not transferring the ownership as the value of vehicles goes by number of owners. First, second hand etc. If you don’t transfer the vehicle, then it always remains first hand. Value remains high.
In remaining 50, 25 will never reach you because in India when you change your address, you never inform the transport department.
So out of 100, 75 will go to waste paper basket. Only 15 will pay out of them.
Our revenue generation is 95 percent. Every city has 2 systems – one is this notice generation system which is like no physical contact and other is the challan given on the way. In the second system, instead of booklets, we have BBs.
The first is called violation ticket system which is stored in the violation ticket database and second is the BB ticket database. We have connected both the databases. Now suppose, one person has got nine notices and has thrown all of them away. In the BB system, these nine notices are resting in my system and they remain. If you are caught on the way, the policeman enters your data in the system and charges you Rs 100 for violation, the BB will show 9 unpaid notices against your name from the other server which you have to then pay. IT is not happening anywhere because it can happen only in a PDA system.
The revenue is up by 95 per cent now because the punishment is certain. Not big, but certain. Cities are not aware that they have a hidden benefit by connecting both the databases. Today people know that we have a record of all their violations. Tomorrow if there is a law, if there are 10 violations then you driver licenses are cancelled. Then this database will be useful.
It is not a question of Rs 100 when you don’t transfer your vehicle. The seller should be conscious of transferring because today vehicles are involved in all kinds of crimes. If a person claims to have sold his vehicle or changed his address to someone else when he is caught, we ask him to change his records in RTO and we waive all fines. Because of that 10 lakh vehicles’ data records were updated.
Otherwise transport department does not enforce changing the address and vehicle details. There are no strict laws.
Q. What if the constable doesn’t use BlackBerry and people are ready to bribe?
Technology can be as honest as the person sitting behind him. Earlier we had scandals where police officers used to print their own challah books, 38 lakhs cases of this kind have disappeared. But system can never prevent when both parties are involved in the corruption which is where the limitations of technology is there. However, what is done between constable and citizen can never be traced.
Total fine collection is Rs 80 crore, from Rs 18 crore and state is yet to pick up. Thus, technology pays for itself. The revenue model is not PPP. Investment is Rs 6crore and then Rs1crore recurring. In Bangalore, we have deployed 1000 BBs, rest of the state has 325 BBs. We have achieved 100 percent BB coverage to ASI and above.
The app developed, took three yrs to stabilise, 2005 to 2008. Same application can be replicated in every city. Airtel was our vendor who had a sub vendor which is a small company.
Another company, MindTree did something interesting for us. They did evidence based enforcement. The moment every camera captures the violation, it automatically gets updated on our website. When you get the notice, you can get the notice number and check the photo on the website. After payment, it is closed. Evidence based traffic enforcement is the future in India. It will end violence between traffic police and people. Now we have five to six issues in a year of altercations between police and people. This is the only way you can make enforcement better else it is a very dirty job. These are the by-product of technology.
Q. How are you using social media?
Social media in traffic enforcement is a double edged sword. I was very apprehensive before going on Facebook. But after a year I went on FB and now our page is very vibrant. You are establishing a direct contact with the people which is true and non-manipulative. Of all posts and messages, 80 percent of them are fair and true reflections of our work. I would have never gone to that corner of the city that I visited if it wasn’t for FB.
The problem is that the expectations of the people go up and then we are unable to deliver. For that we need to communicate our limitations to the people.
Our two best people update our FB page everyday and even the additional commissioner chip in when he thinks there is a problem to be solved. On social media we can communicate each other sides and limitations. Social media is a great, great thing.
(The views expressed are personal)
The writer is addl director general of police, computer wing, and commissioner for traffic & road safety.
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