On June 1 around 280 BlackBerry handhelds were given out to officers of the Bangalore Traffic Police to try and step up their drive against erring road users, as part of the B-trac 2010 project. Around 18 lakh traffic violations are booked every year, according to M.N. Reddi, IGP and Additional Commissioner of Traffic, and the department earns around Rs 20 crore annually in fines. "We had experimented with Simputer handhelds (donated by CII) five years ago but we were restricted by low battery life and the lack of live connectivity with the back-end server," he explains. Under the new system, traffic police officers would be able to book violators on-the-fly and even confiscate licences and vehicles from repeat offenders.
"We are moving from a passive system of law enforcement to a more active and technology-led system to try and shore up the image of the police," says Reddi. In fact, traffic constables continue to use an old-fashioned notebook to note down registration numbers of offenders and then log in the details at a central server, but police officials hope that they can change this system as technology gets more ingrained with their functioning. "This will be just the first phase of our deployment, since we want to be able to instantly e-mail officers on the streets with complaints and give them a preset time to reply to them," says Reddi. As part of this service provided by Airtel, a BlackBerry Enterprise Server will sit next to Bangalore Police's own data bank, and will also be hooked up to the Regional Transport Office (RTO) to enable officers to access vehicle records.
Meanwhile, Reddi is also at the centre of a more citizen-friendly project with Airtel named Bangalore Transport Information System (BTIS), which will provide road users with live traffic updates on mobile phones. By recording live traffic densities and mapping the location of public transport vehicles, road users in the country's it capital could avoid notorious traffic jams and find their way to work (or home) quicker. Using technology from Mapunity, a provider of geographical information systems, Airtel and the city police hope to provide road users with information on traffic flows, occurrence of traffic jams and viability of alternate routes. "Traffic is the most critical urban challenge and I am sure the implementation of the Bangalore Transport Information System will set an example for other cities in India to replicate," says Sanjay Kapoor, President, Mobile Services, Bharti Airtel.
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