Ankush Kumar

IFSEC Global India Correspondent, IFSEC Global

January 1, 2014

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Railway Budget: Are we Compromising Security for Cleanliness?

Presenting the Rail Budget 2014-15, Sadananda Gowda, the minister of Railways showed his keen interest in providing hygienic environment to the passengers, as he extended the use of CCTV cameras from security and surveillance to monitoring cleanliness of the railway stations on a regular basis.

The Northern Railway last year has provided CCTV surveillance system at 20 important stations, including New Delhi, Nizamuddin and Old Delhi railway stations in the national capital, in a bid to boost security arrangements.

The CCTV cameras were installed at platforms and nearby areas whereas their footage was manned by security personnel round the clock. The recordings were stored digitally for future analysis.

The Railway department has also given the access to these cameras to passenger reservation system (PRS) centers so as to help them in keeping a close check on activities of unauthorised personnel in the ticketing areas.

Countries across the globe are using CCTV cameras in a much innovative technique. Some of the developed nation uses these cameras to catch domestic and trade litterers in the act and those who refuse to pay their fines end up in court.

Local people raised their voice on the issues of street cleanliness which pushed their Government to take innovative measures by installing surveillance cameras on the streets. The campaign got successful and the administration was able to convince irresponsible people to dispose of their waste properly. Enforcement officers are regularly patrolling such areas where the chances of irrational dumping are high and they issue on-the-spot tickets to offenders.

As per a latest report by MarketsandMarkets, ”Global railways safety and security market is expected to grow from $5.58 billion in 2013 to $9.62billion by 2018, at an estimated CAGR of 11.5 percent, during the forecast period. This market is broadly classified in to two segments infrastructure security solutions (Screening and Scanning, Track Monitoring and Control, Video Surveillance, Fire Safety and Detection, Access Control and Secure Communication); mode security solutions (Train Control System, Tracking and Navigation System and In-Train Safety and Security System).”

In the infrastructure security solution, use of video surveillance plays an important role especially when it comes to railway station security. Some of the modern railways across the world are using these CCTV cameras in waiting hall, railway yards, workshops, reservation counter, parking area, main entrance/ exit, platforms, foot over bridges etc and others railway establishments to capture images of commuters & public and to carry out analysis.

These cameras are a part of a comprehensive surveillance system mainly consist of indoor & outdoor fixed cameras, indoor & outdoor P/T/Z dome cameras, indoor and outdoor IP cameras, single/multi channel video encoders, video management hardware & software, recording servers, switches, color monitor etc. for surveillance of different locations of railway stations and other establishments from centralized location.

Despite the several claims of the railway authorities of having installed a high definition CCTV camera at various parts of railway station, the incidents of pick pocketing, loot and robbery has not come down. Hundreds of illegal vendors remain active at various stations everyday without being checked by security personnel. Whenever such crime happens in the railway stations these camera images comes out to be too hazy to be used in identifying the criminals.

There are about 23 million passengers transporting through railways every day and deploying 17000 RPF for such a huge chuck of travellers would be sufficient or not, only time will tell. In such a scenario extending the usage of CCTV cameras for cleanliness may raise a big question i.e. are we compromising security for cleanliness? There is a dire need of effective security and surveillance system at the railway station and many citizens especially women have raised serious concerns about it.

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