Railways to procure AI-based cameras for thermal temp screening of passengers
Railways has already begun installing the cameras in some zones. The cameras can detect the body temperature of passengers and help in detecting and denying boarding to those with symptoms of the coronavirus disease.Updated: Sep 11, 2020 07:03 IST
Indian Railways has begun work on procuring thermal cameras for deployment at railway stations across its network for thermal temperature screening of passengers for Covid-19 via Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based surveillance cameras after it scrapped a previous tender amid allegations of favouring a Chinese firm.
Railways has already begun installing the cameras in some zones. The cameras can detect the body temperature of passengers and help in detecting and denying boarding to those with symptoms of the coronavirus disease.
“Central railways has begun using thermal cameras already. About two dozen symptomatic passengers were detected through it and were denied boarding. The fresh tender will open on Friday. We plan to induct the AI based cameras across all zones as more trains begin operations,” an Indian Railways official said on condition of anonymity.
Railways in July scrapped a tender for thermal cameras meant for Covid-19 surveillance after Indian firms alleged that the specifications favoured a Chinese company, Hindustan Times had first reported on July 1. In June, Railtel, the railways’ telecom arm, had issued the tender for thermal temperature screening by AI-based surveillance cameras.
The company soon decided to issue a fresh tender after the controversy.
“RailTel has floated an expression of Interest( EOI) for finalizing partner for provision of thermal scanning solution in customer premises. The EOI is scheduled to be opened tomorrow and parter will be selected later after due diligence by nominated committee. In the proposed EOI, one partner for each region of RailTel will be identified to offer thermal scanning solution. The selected partner will supply equipment as per purchase orders received from RailTel customers in future,” a spokesperson for RailTel said.
The development in June came in the backdrop of a tense military standoff between India and China along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.
Indian firms had alleged that the AI technology - DeepInMind - which was specified in the tender was a proprietary feature of Chinese firm Hikvision, a company partly owned by the Chinese government.
The specifications for the cameras include temperature screening with facial recognition and mask detection, simultaneous temperature screening of multiple persons, detecting whether people wear masks and sounding timely alarms on people without masks.
While the initial tender for these cameras issued on June 9 excluded a crucial specification called “black body” temperature -- the ability of cameras to accurately measure temperatures emitted by a person to say whether a he or she has fever or not - and the DeepinMind technology specification, they were included in the revised tender issued on June 23.
Hindustan Times had on November 10 last year reported that the national carrier was planning a complete overhaul of security at railway stations through the use of facial recognition technology backed by artificial intelligence.
It also plans to link the facial recognition system (FRS) with existing databases such as the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) to identify criminals prowling railway stations.