In a bid to improve policing and make officials more alert, the south and south-east districts of Delhi Police launched a few smartphone and Web applications (apps) in the past one year - E-Saathi, E-beat book, Suraksha and Vehiscan. However, these are yet to yield the desired results. They have developed and experimented with these systems for better policing and functioning within the department, scrapping and integrating few features in the process. Most were to be used internally by the department and a couple of them allowed public interface. The police are still working to bring about better versions of some. Senior officers said that lack of resources, manpower and funding have also led to some of them being back-burnered or used only perfunctorily. HT reviews the apps.
The south-east district had launched this app on a pilot basis. The app is an integrated version of their previous experiment, Sewa, which allows interface with the public. Its basic features includes online verification of tenants and domestic helps and report of vehicle thefts, among others. The app is GPS-enabled and has a database of senior citizens and other vulnerable groups. The app is being used at present in both south and south-east districts. The application was developed by the IT cell of the south-east district under DCP Mandeep S Randhawa.
“Launching of this app has helped to bring police closer to the public. It has also reduced the paper work and taken the load off the beat staff’s shoulders of visiting each house for tenant verification. Citizen portal E-Saathi connects people to their nearest police station by identifying their location. Tenant and servant verification services are being used the most. It has given us good reviews in just a month’s time. It is going to help in improving community policing,” said Randhawa.
Launched when: December 2015
Present status: Newly launched, the app is being used by many and has received a good response so far. According to police, it has been downloaded 7,000 times.
This app, too, is an integrated version of many other applications including Himmat, Suraksha and the lost and found report facility. It was first launched by the east district to ease the burden off the beat staff and was used only internally by the police department. Its features were then developed and merged with the other two apps by the south-east district. The app was to be implemented in all other districts as well.
The app was developed in a bid for ‘smart policing’. It aims to empower beat officers on the job and keeps a record of their day-to-day activities through an electronic log book. Its features include online verification of cab drivers. The real-time data were to help in investigations. However, no cases have been reported and this app’s utility has not been proved so far.
“The app aims to provide an interface between the beat officers, the SHO and senior officers. It is GPS-enabled so that senior officers can keep a track of the activities of the subordinates in real time. So far the details have not borne significance in investigations, but it will gradually have a large database of criminals and habitual offenders that will become handy in working out cases,” said senior officer of the south-east district.
Launched when: September 2015 (new version)
Present status: The new version of the app is being used by all districts. However, no cases have been solved so far with the app.
This was launched by the south district police and is now used only marginally. The app was to help out in tracing missing children (up to 8 years of age from the JJ colonies and slum clusters. However, the benefit of this facility is yet to be seen as the parents couldn’t provide basic information, like photographs, of the children, and, as they didn’t attend school, there were no records to feed in the database. The app also aimed to facilitate online verification of tenants including foreigners and domestic helps, and register senior citizens. Initially, it was supposed to be used by police personnel only later to be introduced to the public. However, now with E-Saathi, its use has been limited to the department only.
With the app, the police had collected data of children in various slum clusters including Begampur, Vasant Vihar, Vasant Kunj north and south and Rangpur Pahari.
“It was planned that all the beat staff would be provided smartphones to capture images of children living in slums and cab drivers including those employed with schools. However, because of lack of funds and manpower, the app is not being utilised to its full potential. Beat staff have to attend to many calls in the day. Reeling under staff crunch, it is not feasible for them to feed all records in it,” said, a senior south district officer.
Launched when: May 2015
Present status: The app is used only by a handful of police personnel. Most if its functions have been rendered redundant.
The Delhi police’s south district launched this software to be used by the personnel to track stolen vehicles. A camera fitted on a police vehicle is connected to a software enabled to read number plates of vehicles at parking lots and on roadsides. The data of stolen vehicles is already fed into the software, which raises an alarm in the event of a number plate matching the data.
They launched the app on a trial basis for a fortnight during which seven alarms were raised. The app was used in parking lots of Metro stations and on streets that allowed vehicles to be parked for a long time period which included Mehrauli, Saket and Mehrauli-Badarpur (MB) road. The stolen were later claimed by their respective owners.
The police has plans to install these cameras at various borders including NH-8 and Mehrauli-Gurgaon road. It was intended to bring down the number of carjacking and help contain other heinous crimes.
Launched When: November 2015
Present status: The software has not been put to much use after the trial period ended. In the few drives undertaken, no actual cases of stolen vehicles have been worked out so far.