Jhakhand's digital leap (Indian Express, 15/09/2013)

from naxal cadres to maps of Red zones, and police weapons looted to FIRs filed, the state police's award-winning IT wing has information on their fingertips

It began in an anteroom adjacent the office of the director general of police in Ranchi, expanded to an abandoned garage and then to a canteen. That first team of five-10 people attempting to draw up a rudimentary seniority list has grown in eight years into an Information Technology wing that has since then uploaded information about 2,759 Naxal cadre, along with details of 4,227 individuals considered supporters or sympathisers to the Maoist cause, and even data on the 810 police weapons looted by them.

The efforts of the Jharkhand Police's IT wing helped it win independently in the categories of Naxal Information Systems, Crime and Criminal Information Systems, Use of Information and Communication Technology in Policing and Web Portal of Jharkhand Police at the Skoch Digital Inclusion Awards (for government entities) earlier this month — the maximum for a single entity of a state police.

As of July 2013, 31,454 police personnel have undergone basic IT training at this Data Centre, while 7,218 have taken an advanced course to manage the Common Application Software. That covers more than half the total state police strength of 55,000 (against a sanctioned 70,000).

An impressed state government, which has long been planning a data centre for itself, is now using the servers at the police headquarters to upload certain data such as on commercial taxes and UID.

The state police first saw the opportunity in IT in 2007-08, when the Ministry of Home Affairs proposed a modernisation programme for intelligence. "We were one of the few states to receive the whole Rs 18.5 crore after they were impressed with our proposal and approved critical components like a GIS (Geographic Information System) and Server Room," says Additional Director General of Police (Modernisation) S N Pradhan.

The driving force behind the Jharkhand Police IT upgrade, Pradhan recalls that the idea came about when he was DIG (Modernisation), in 2004-05. "A simple thing like a digitised seniority list of police officers was not available at the headquarters then. I requested for an ante-room attached to the then-DG's office, set up computers and made five-10 boys sit there, typing out the list," he says.

The Server Room came up where once a garage and canteen existed, and has now became the heart of the modernisation.

Pradhan and Debrabrata Nayak, a scientist at Ranchi's National Informatics Centre office, together founded what is called the 'Open Group of E-governance (OGE)'. When they started the development centre using open source software in 2009, says Nayak, there were only four members. "Now there are 131 individuals in IT support, training and development."

The OGE works in modules, with each team taking up a project. The jhpolice.gov.in website has since come to host most of these projects.

Apart from impressive data, the portal houses an online complaint support centre called e-Samadhan, eSchools that train personnel to comply with the Union Home Ministry's requirement for Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS), and an eLearning Academy for the public as part of an outreach programme. Away from the public eye, there is a Naxal Information System, the Crime Criminal Information System (to be integrated with the CCTNS) and a GIS that supplies customised maps that are vital to operations against Maoist groups.

For its Naxal Information System, each input — even if seemingly trivial — is fed in. Therefore, as of July this year, there were 19,790 inputs about the 19-and-growing LWE organisations in the state. The system tracks data from 46,237 mobile towers. There are details of 4,896 LWE-related incidents. The data on police weapons looted by LWE organisations has helped track down 262 of them.

Pradhan admits that it was tough to familiarise officials who had not even operated a computer before with IT. "It was a challenge to even take out the apprehension aspect. There were those who had never even touched a computer before," he says.

"We started a year late with the CCTNS work, but because of what we had been doing, we are already among the top five states," says Pradhan.

The OGE has helped start a pilot project in Dhanbad's Jharia to monitor attendance and mid-day meal stock through SMSes, as well as helped digitise records of the past 10 years, including four lakh FIRs. An Enterprise Management software will feature the records of all purchases in the past 12 years.

"We have not outsourced a single job of data entry. It has all been done by our own trained personnel," says Pradhan.

An OGE member is now working on software that will help mine data that will be thrown up as records go online. The trends that emerge can be a building block in the predictive policing project that the state police want to try. Another group is working on a mobile application for officers that will throw up profiles once a name is keyed in. The OGE will also animate 50 major LWE incidents in Jharkhand and make it accessible to police personnel for training purposes.

The idea is to have ultimately a Unified Command and Control Centre — a war room, if you like — located within the state police headquarters. It is an ambitious programme, involving state-of-the-art Land Mobile Radio system, helping integrate multiple platforms.

"We plan to connect 816 sites, establishing 1,200 links. All devices, even radios, will be integrated. This will go hand-in-hand with the GIS centre we are proposing to establish with the Jharkhand Space Application Centre. All superintendents of police have laptops pre-loaded with the customised GIS maps. Handhelds with the same will be distributed. That will pave the way for a first-of-its-kind GIS and Ops Centre," Pradhan says.

Courtesy: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/jhakhands-digital-leap/1169289/

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