India’s faceless intelligence community came face-to-face with technologist APJ Abdul Kalam on Friday and took lessons on deploying technology to cope with terror challenges over the next two decades.
Right from dumping their VHF walkie-talkie sets that security personnel use to communicate that could be easily monitored to deploying a few thousand of optical and infrared cameras in public places to make the best of surveillance technologies.
Kalam’s audience was the top brass of the intelligence community and senior police officers and the occasion, the Intelligence Bureau’s annual endowment lecture to commemorate the British setting up the Central Special Branch 199 years ago. This CSB later became the Criminal Intelligence Bureau and finally evolved into the IB as it is now known.
And President Kalam gave them a low-down on making the best of technology to track down troublemakers right in time.
The technology lessons came a little later. Before he started delivering the formal lecture, Kalam signalled that the spoofs should be careful. "Sometimes in the intelligence game, innocents are picked up and framed. I remember the case of one of my friends at ISRO who was picked up and framed up in a spy case," he said. "He (the friend) was later discharged by court as his guilt could not be proved…” the President said before moving on to his theme: "Dynamics of Intelligence Missions".
“If the intelligence agencies are alert and committed, they could bring in the awesome power of the same technology to counter the terrorists and decimate them. They can use the technology to monitor and counter the communication,” Kalam said before he went into examining the different technologies available.
Kalam said monitoring a device like the cell phone – that is increasingly getting converged and used for a lot more than just talking – was a great challenge for the intelligence community. But he cautioned: “The fact that this has to be done without intruding into the privacy of the individual is the greatest challenge”.
By 2030, Kalam envisioned that every human being would have a unique radio frequency ID that will “make the tracking of individuals and understanding their anomalous and suspicious behaviour as precursor to an act of violence or an economic offence”.
Kalam also referred to Intelligent Explosive Detection that could detect hidden explosives in many cases but pointed that much more scientific research was needed for this.
The president also asked the agency to study 100 cases where they averted a disaster by pro-active action and 10 where they caused harm to an individual or system to evolve best practices for themselves.