CCTV watch makes roads safer

November 13, 2013

Krishnendu Bandyopadhyay, TNN


KOLKATA: You may not know it, but you are on camera on virtually every traffic crossing in the city. The end-to-end CCTV surveillance launched on November 1 is revolutionizing how Kolkata Police prevent crime and tackle traffic jams.

TOI brings you three such instances where CCTV watch helped police to intervene quickly and take effective action.

At Esplanade, a young girl looked terrified as she tried desperately to escape two stalkers. None of the passersby had noticed her plight, but a camera mounted high above did. Officers from the Lalbazar HQ quietly passed on the girl’s exact location to a team on the ground. Within seconds, two policemen showed up and asked her if she needed any help. The harassers were caught by surprise and had no way to escape.

SN Banerjee Road and Lenin Sarani were choked with bumper-to-bumper traffic. But the parallel Creek Row and Ganesh Avenue were relatively free. A senior officer, who could see footage of the gridlock on his tablet while on the move, ordered vehicles to be diverted to Ganesh Avenue-Creek Row. Commuters may have wondered how traffic started flowing smoothly. If you were there, now you know the secret.

A car sped dangerously past Gariahat crossing, forcing pedestrians to scamper to safety. A sergeant on Gurusaday Road was alerted. As the car sped on dangerously, he drew iron-barricades across the road and stood firm, forcing the car to slow down. There was no escape. The driver – a minor – was booked.

The optical-fibre enabled surveillance network has given Kolkata Police an edge that was unthinkable even a few years ago. There is hardly any crossing that has not been covered, say police. “It was a challenge to us to bring 200 square kilometer of the city police jurisdiction under camera surveillance. We succeeded. Now each of 25 traffic guards is also monitoring their respective territories,” said special commissioner (II) Soumen Mitra.

Impressed with its extensive cover, chief minister Mamata Banerjee feels confident that will reduce crimes against women.

Mitra said that the cameras are capable of transmitting high definition (HD) pictures and are effective in low-light conditions as well. Moreover, senior officers can get the feed of any camera at anytime on move. This will help them assess a situation and take action on the basis of the real-time footage.

It’s also a boon to traffic management. The city has perpetually struggles with limited road space and traffic management is getting more and more difficult because of rising number of private cars.

The police tried to solve it with ‘area traffic control’ but it could not be fully utilized because of the wrong choice of technology, said an officer.

The CCTV surveillance system has come as a shot in the arm for the traffic cops. It gives police a view of the whole area to check for roads that are clogged and roads that can be used to ease the logjam. “This system actually facilitates us to strike an equitable distribution of traffic by making minor diversions,” said a traffic police officer.

The traffic police want to take it a step further by enabling the cameras to zoom into number plates. They want to install software for automatic motor-registration recognition. “This system will not only capture the registration number of a vehicle but also dig out details of the owner from the database and pin-pointing the exact place of offence with latitude and longitude coordinates,” said Mitra.



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