Find a police station closest to you, know your rights and track the status of an investigation with a swipe on your mobile. The Maharashtra home department is working on a 10-point plan to modernise the state’s police force and make its personnel more tech-savvy and citizen-friendly.
The programme, said sources, will focus on making the police more accessible to the common man — mobile apps and a swanky new website to make getting in touch with the police easier; an improved CCTV camera network in 26 cities to better surveillance; assets such as weapons and ordnance to be tracked online; and police personnel to be trained to make them more citizen-friendly.
Among the major initiatives is the standardisation of mobile apps that citizens use, especially to improve the safety of women and senior citizens.
“Currently, different city police commissionerates have their own apps for citizen services. Under the new initiative, we will be able to introduce one standard app for the whole state by choosing the best of the lot. Similarly, a common website for all commissionerates and the district police force will ensure uniformity in terms of treating crimes,” said an official in the know.
The programme also plans to track the health of all police personnel, from recruitment to retirement, so that information about the personnel’s medical history is always handy during treatment.
Sources said one of the main aims of the plan is to put in place a centralised monitoring system to ensure transparency during recruitment.
To carry out this technological overhaul, three consultancy firms specialising in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) last week made presentations to a high-power committee headed by KP Bakshi, the additional chief secretary. The firms are expected to be engaged for all ten modernisation programmes.
“Today, law enforcement is using a lot of technology, and this [the programme] is a step forward in utilising newest technology for better surveillance, analytics and combating cybercrimes, among other things,” said Brijesh Singh, director general of information and public relations, and a member of the committee.
The department is also planning an asset management initiative to track lands, building, jails, vehicles and weapons to assess if they need upgrades and to ensure they are used effectively. “This will help the government buy weapons and arms in a better planned way,” said an official from the home department.
The ICT consultants — KPMG, PWC and Earnst and Young — who made the presentations are likely to be appointed to monitor the bidding and implementation of the projects.
“Either one or all of them will be awarded contracts for the ten initiatives, depending on their expertise. Standardisation of the website and apps may be done in the next few months, but bigger projects like the CCTV network and health records may take a few years. While it is difficult to estimate the cost of these projects as the scope of work varies, the entire project will run into a few hundred crores. Our focus is to implement them all,” another official said.