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Cops to use pan-Mumbai CCTV network from Oct 2

mumbai Updated: Sep 09, 2016 12:20 IST
Debasish Panigrahi
Debasish Panigrahi
Hindustan Times
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A highly placed source in the state home department claimed that the decision to make the project functional by October 2 was taken in order to avoid criticisms over skipping deadline(HT File Photo)

Starting this Gandhi Jayanti, the Mumbai police’s fight against crime and criminals is poised to touch new highs. On that day (October 2), the most expensive and elaborate security project of the city police, till date, the pan-Mumbai CCTV network, is all set to become a reality.

“From street crimes to traffic offenders, sexual offenders to chain snatchers, or even the occasional straying leopards from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Every happening in the city and the suburbs will come under our lens, live,” said a senior police officer involved in the project.

The ambitious project was conceived in the aftermath of the November 26, 2008, terrorist attacks. As per the recommendations of the Ram Pradhan committee, a decision was taken to install CCTV cameras at over a 1,000 locations in the city. However, even after inviting bids in 2012 and 2013, the contract could not be awarded due to technical reasons. Finally in February 2015, the state government put it on track by signing a Rs949-crore deal with Larsen & Turbo for installation of 6,000 close circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the next 90 weeks (roughly around mid-September 2016).

Meanwhile, a highly placed source in the state home department claimed that the decision to make the project functional by October 2 was taken in order to avoid criticisms over skipping deadline.

“The government seems to be under pressure to meet the deadline. Otherwise, by October 2, work on 4,800 cameras could be completed, while the rest 1,200 would be over only by November,” sources said. However, a police officer countered the claim saying that 4,800 cameras were enough to give the required coverage.

Spots for the CCTV cameras were carefully chosen by the police stations in their respective jurisdictions. The surveillance area of one camera begins at the end coverage point of another. “We have cameras at Bandstand for sexual offenders, but those in Aarey colony are not meant for leopards. They will be used to warn people about the prowling beasts,” the official reasoned.

The network will come handy not only for real time surveillance, but it will help track criminals and missing persons too. “The city’s dark allies would no longer provide cover to criminals, especially those who have been absconding since long,” the official said. Elaborating, he said the server would be fed with photographs of over 1 lakh criminals on record. Of those, 18,000 are wanted. “The face recognition software will recognise them the moment they come out of their hiding,” the official said. Similarly, the cameras will help track missing persons.

To prevent sabotage or attempts to tamper the wiring, fibre optic cables have been laid deep inside the ground to connect them with the control room, which has been set up on the premises of the Mumbai police commissioner’s office at Crawford Market. Sources said in places where it was difficult to lay the cable, authorities opted for wireless connectivity . “For example, cameras at Malabar Hill are mostly wire-free.”

Most of the cameras are directional and zoom controlled while those installed at 20 points along the coastline are equipped with thermal censors. All the cameras have been connected to the main control room at Crawford market, while parallel connections have been given to the emergency control room at Kalina, which is on the verge of completion.

The traffic police headquarters will also have it’s live feed of all major roads received at it’s control room in Worli.

Access to the live feed has been given to all police stations as well as the DCP and Regional Additional CP’s offices. However, the local units can see the feeds while the cameras could only be operated from the control room.

Interestingly, the most iconic structure of the city, the Bandra-Worli Sea Link is yet to be covered by the network. “The problem arose mainly because camera platforms cannot be erected on the bridge. Talks are on to install the cameras on pillars and cables of the bridge,” sources added.

The project

#The proposal of CCTV coverage for the entire city was floated in the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks in 2008, but did not take off. On February 8, 2015 the Rs949-crore deal was finally sealed with Larsen & Turbo for installation of 6,000 cameras in two years.

#For the project, the city was divided into the five police regions—south, central, east, west and north.

# Every region was allotted roughly about 1,250 cameras.

#To ensure high resolution and clarity of the targets (picture), Pan-Tilt-Zoom cameras (PTZ cameras), capable of remote directional and zoom control have been used.

#Many of the cameras are capable of uninterrupted feed even at night (night vision) and have 360 degree coverage.

#At some points along the sea fronts, thermal-sensing cameras have been used which sense an object by the body heat it generates.

The control room

#The cameras, installed from Colaba to Dahisar and Cuffe Parade to Mulund are connected to and controlled from the control room at the police commissioner’s compound in Crawford Market.

#The continuous input are seen over 60 jumbo LED screens, with each screen divided into 20 equally sized squares.

#The input from the cameras change in every 2 minutes. However, in the event the input was not seen, it will get automatically saved.

#The footages can be preserved up to 30 days, and it can be extended even up to 180 days.

#Work on the emergency control room at Kalina likely to be over by the end of September.