Police badly need a lot more eyes to keep a watch on the city

Anand Haridas
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Third eye:The police are trying to bring private cameras into their fold
Third eye:The police are trying to bring private cameras into their fold

Anonymity was the cover Soorya, a native of Tamil Nadu, thought he had while driving around in his auto. He was so confident that he did not think much before assaulting one member of the family touring the city after a quarrel over exorbitant fare.

What he did not know then was that every action of his, as well as that of his three other friends, were being recorded in the surveillance camera installed by the police at KSRTC bus stand. Armed with the visuals, the police closed in and submitted a report to the Regional Transport Office to cancel driving licences and permits. All the four drivers had no other go but to surrender before the probe officer.

This incident that occurred in May is a pointer to the security that the city could experience being under watchful eyes of police. But all is not well with the camera surveillance system in the city. Compared to Thiruvananthapuram, flush with funds marked for the capital city, Kochi fares poorly in terms of infrastructure. The city police here have only 100-odd cameras installed at various places in the city as against more than 300 in the State capital.

The shortfall in infrastructure is made worse by some inefficient officers at the desk monitoring the footage. Top officers in the force admit that the control room here was being used by police personnel mostly to take a break from active policing.

Now the city police are trying to bring the control room back on track. As a first step, the force is in discussion with private agencies to include their surveillance cameras into the network. The police plan to include 160 cameras now, out of which 70 have already started sharing their feed with the control room. This includes cameras installed at shopping malls and busy areas like Vyttila Mobility Hub. Integration of the private cameras to the surveillance network was an important component of the ‘Safe City Secure City’ scheme, launched here in May. The Control Room now has facility to keep visuals for 15 days.




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