A Global Positioning System (GPS)-based fleet safety management system will be introduced for houseboats, the mascot of Kerala Tourism.

The system will track houseboats and ensure the safety and security of tourists while they cruise the backwaters.

Besides tracking and locating houseboats on a Geographic Information System (GIS) map and timely emergency response, the route travelled by a houseboat can also be “geo-fenced” to receive alerts on any route violations.

Web and mobile-based public interfaces for the tourists and others will help them access information on accreditation, safety, and security rating of every registered houseboat in the State through the website of the regulating authority Kerala Tourism.

Advanced

The tracking system, which integrates advanced technologies in GPS, Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM), General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), and microprocessor subsystems, has been developed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) for Kerala Tourism.

It will initially be introduced on 100 houseboats in the State in view of the increasing safety and security concerns and mounting accidents on the backwaters.

Official sources told The Hindu that the project had been cleared, and a sum of Rs.1.58 crore had been allocated for implementing the system.

The pilot project would be implemented in six months.

Tracking

The system will employ a GPS-based fleet tracking unit, the core functionality, to identify the location of a houseboat and transmit the spatial or geographic information to a control monitoring station over the GSM network.

The GPS module on the houseboat will capture the geographical coordinate data and send the spatial information in real time to the control/central monitoring system via the Internet.

The server at the central monitoring system will process the GPS data and relay the information in real time to information retrieval interfaces such as web portals, boat jetty, and passenger information display boards.

The houseboat tracking application software will provide route, halt, distance travelled, speed violation, fleet summary, and alert reports.

Fleet specific, maintenance and geo-fence alerts, and a web-based application for managing the licensing/auditing activities of houseboats have been included.

A smartphone/tablet personal computer with SIM and GPRS connection and a GPS mobile unit are needed on each houseboat. These have to be installed by the houseboat operator or by Kerala Tourism.

The C-DAC has estimated that the cost of implementing the system in 1,000 houseboats will be Rs.2.66 crore.

The post-implementation technical support will be provided for 12 months.

Houseboats are concentrated in Alappuzha, and it is estimated that nearly 1,200 houseboats operate in the region.

Recommendations

The fleet safety management system comes in the wake of the series of recommendations made by a nine-member committee, headed by Tourism Secretary Suman Billa, that looked into houseboat safety following the January 26 tragedy that resulted in the death of four tourists at the Punnamada finishing point.

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