Control room fully networked

It is a networked world inside the control room at the Government College of Technology, Coimbatore, where votes will be counted on Friday.

The Coimbatore Corporation went to the polls on Monday. Nearly 60 per cent of the 10.45 lakh voters exercised their franchise to elect a mayor and 100 councillors.

The civic body has computerised the entire operations, says T.K. Ponnusamy, Commissioner. “Right from the release of control units from the strong room to declarations of the results, the Corporation has gone in for e-management of elections.”

The civic body took the help of two professionals from the National Informatics Centre, Coimbatore — M. Kannan, District Informatics Officer, and K. Venkatesh, District Informatics Associate — who tweaked existing software to suit needs.

The computerised system will ensure early, error-free declaration of results, display of early trends in results for booth agents inside counting hall, officials and media personnel and quick communication with the State Election Commission, Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department and District Administration, says S. Sivarasu, Deputy Commissioner.

He worked with the two professionals to tweak the software.

According to Mr. Venkatesh, each of the 10 counting centres has two computers with as many data entry operators. After every round of counting, the data entry operators, with the approval of the respective assistant returning officers, will feed candidate-wise data for the mayor's as well as councillors' election results.

Even while being entered, the data will appear on the computers in the control room. The same will also be transmitted to television screens in counting centres and media room. “The reason for placing TV screens in the counting centres is to help counting agents keep tabs on the trends,” he says.

At the end of the counting process, the assistant returning officers will publish the results, which again will be available on screen to the agents and the media and also to the officials at the State Election Commission, the Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department and District Administration.

Mr. Venkatesh says assistant returning officers will not be able to publish the results until they feed all the relevant data. “The National Informatics Centre has tweaked the software in such a way that until results of all the rounds in a ward are entered, the software will not publish the results. It will also withhold the publication of the results if the postal votes are not entered. The officials will have to, at least, punch in zero for postal votes to publish results.”

He adds, “This is to ensure that every detail is entered to make the result accurate.” The software uses ASP in the front-end and MS SQL in the backend.

The Corporation has plants to ‘live stream' the counting process and publish results on its website, says Mr. Ponnusamy. “It is exploring the possibilities and will make it available in a day or two.”

The computerised management of the counting process is only another first for the Corporation, which also published online the voters' list, adds Mr. Sivarasu.