‘GIS will become a key component of crime analysis’

‘GIS will become a key component of crime analysis’

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Manoj Aggarwal

IG Int, Gujarat Police

 

Securing international boundaries, maintaining law & order, dealing with crime – geospatial technology has ample scope in policing. Manoj Aggarwal shares with Geospatial World the initiatives taken by Gujarat Police in implementing geospatial technology and the way forward   

Gujarat is at the forefront of adopting geospatial technology in policing. Can you brief us on how and when the need was felt to implement geospatial technology?

The importance of  GIS technology and beneficiary retrieval output thereof in numerous fields, especially  in the field of  maintaining law and order, dealing  with  crime, traffic  management, intelligence, anti-sabotage, VIP arrangements etc is paramount. Hence there  was  a dire need  to  comprise  a  cell / branch, consisting  of  experts  in  the  field  of  police  management  and  computer skilled  officers,   to overcome  the  existing  lacunae  in  policing  and  have  an  effective  and  efficient  monitoring  system. For GIS efforts of even modest size, it is usually necessary to form a team and assign a leader. Even if things appear simple at this stage, they will get much more complex in the course of developing the GIS. Thus, the DGP of Gujarat constituted a Gujarat Police GIS Cell. The GIS Cell will become a key component of crime analysis, through the use of geography and computer generated maps as an interface for integrating and accessing large amounts of information based on its location. GIS allows police personnel to plan effectively for emergency response, mitigation priorities, evaluate historic events and predict future events.

What differences and value additions has geospatial technology brought in the recent times? Can you quote some successful projects and programmes?

The required functions of the GIS software and applications are derived from the users’ operational needs and the database support requirements. The  functions  and  the  scope  of  work  of  the  GIS Cell amounts to various  tasks, but to start with, the Cell has  accomplished  the  herculean  task  of   creating Police Digital Boundaries  of seven ranges of Gujarat Police and thereby, differentiating  27 Districts S.Ps viz  ranges, district police, Dy.S.P.,PI/PSI police station, chowkey/ village/bit wise and four commissionerates  i.e .Ahmedabad  Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot City.  Moreover, the boundaries  of  the  city  police    were  again  marked  and  distinguished  according  to  its  Jurisdiction comprising of  sector /ranges, zones,  ACP divisions,  police stations  etc. which was  a  major  landmark achievement of  the GIS Cell.

The digital boundary data of  commissionerates i.e. cities   were made more  comprehensive in  nature by adding various layers like  apartment/society, ATMs, area locality, bridges, bus-stands, churches, masjids, temples, fire stations, post offices, railway stations, petrol pumps, gas  stations, telephone exchanges, industry/ industrial  estates, hospitals, government buildings, cinema halls, gymkhanas, colleges, schools, party plots, open grounds, restaurants, hostels, gardens, parks, sport complexes, auditoriums  etc.   

            

The key beneficiaries of effective policing are the citizens. Are there any mechanisms to extend the benefits of use of geospatial technology to the citizens?

The key beneficiaries of effective policing for the citizens are in the following areas:  

(1) Crime mapping by web application through central server system of entire state i.e  cities, districts, units (commissionerates / S.Ps.) can  be  done, with  a  view  to  digitise  the  entire  boundaries  of Gujarat  State and  all the  relevant  information  with  regards  to  policing,  can  be  made  available  at  the  click  of  a mouse. The methodology applied here is based on the present investigating system for crime mapping. It has a very promising role in the current scenario and provides a platform for law enforcement agencies for crime detection and prevention. With the help of Raksha Shakti University, last six months’ crime data of 2012 of a particular area has been incorporated in digital map of Police Commissionerate, Ahmedabad city.

 (2) Automatic vehicle locators are plotted/located/viewed on police digital boundary maps and made available to the users. This enables dispatch of vehicles to the needy in very less time, leading to low response times. As part of Dial-100 project implemented in all the control rooms of police commissionerates as well as district SPs, the control rooms are presently equipped with two AVLs each and aims to provide response to public with the help of AVL and GIS map.

(3) By utilising digital boundaries in various ways, the control room may give fruitful results for maintaining law and order, identify hotspots of crime as well as facilitate development of investigation preference strategy for policing. It  can  also  be  useful  to  identify  and  to study  the crime  pattern  of  particular area  or   part  of  a  city / district  thereof.

(4) Accident prone zones can be analysed/ identified by plotting it on the map. It  may  also  be   helpful  to  national / state highways  and  internal district roads, so  as  to  have  an  effective  solution  to curtail  the  accidents  and  bring  some  safety  measures  to  control  the accidents, thereby  saving  precious and valuable  human  lives and   property.

Gujarat and Sindh- land Border poses a number of security issues. How are you deploying geospatial technology to address these issues?

Harami Nala is an inward extension of Sir Creek and Kori Creek. The international border between India and Pakistan passes through centre of Sir Creek. Harami Nala is formed by the estuary of Indus River as it meets the Arabian Sea. The presence of fishes in the easily accessible brackish water creek makes it attractive for fishing boats from Pakistan. It is almost inaccessible from the Indian Side. It was difficult to monitor this area due to the absence of infrastructure as the nearest Gujarat Police / Border Security Force presence was at Lakhpat- nearly 35 kms away. Regular unverifiable inputs from Indian citizens were available about intrusion of Pakistani fishing boats in the area. Security forces made regular sorties with manned and unmanned aircraft but were unable to verify the inputs due to absence of accurate and pin-point information.

The fishermen, when apprehended, would inform that they were present in the Indian territory for last 36 hours before being captured. In the intervening time between information being received and capture of fishing boats, many events against national interest could have happened about which security forces had no information and control.

In early 2010, decision was made to use available satellite imaging technology to pinpoint the intrusions. The area of interest was marked where unverified inputs about intrusion were being regularly received. The area of interest data was sent to relevant satellite imaging organization of Government of India. The satellite imaging organisation was requested to provide the imaging details on a regular basis.

Electronic intelligence received regularly was then collated and passed on to relevant security organisations on a daily basis. A pattern of intrusion was also developed based on the electronic intelligence received. The electronic intelligence gathering was re-tuned as per the developed pattern.

Based on the accurate inputs received from Gujarat Police, security forces started their deployment. The regular inputs received from Gujarat Police made the job of on-ground forces a lot easier. Additional equipment and boats were also deployed in the Indian side of Harami Nala. A permanent post was created near Harami Nala to keep an eye on intrusions and activities against national interest.

Intrusions have drastically come down after the deployment of geospatial technology as per information received from security forces.

What are the challenges being faced in implementation of geospatial technology by Gujarat Police?

The process of acquiring and developing GIS components and building them into the needed GIS should be a straightforward, albeit complex, process that flows directly from the requirements analysis and design. To many, the task of GIS procurement— understanding and choosing among the many alternatives—is daunting. However, if the work done in the requirements analysis and design tasks is thorough, then selecting, procuring, and developing GIS components should not be difficult. It may still be complex and time and resource-consuming, but the decisions and tasks should be results of following the specifications and plans developed in the design phase. It is a matter of transforming the GIS requirements into product and task specifications and evaluating available components and methods according to criteria developed during the requirements analysis. The main GIS components to be acquired usually are GIS software and hardware, applications, data and systems integration. A variety of system and data development activities may also be required to complete the GIS components, including applications and other software development, database design, and system installation and integration.

To overcome the challenges faced in implementation, and reduce the financial cost of implementation, it was decided by Gujarat Police to take help of BISAG (Bhaskaracharya Institute of Space Application & Geo-Informatics) based in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The workstations which run the GIS Software are provided by BISAG. The Esri Software is also provided by BISAG. The entire Gujarat Police GIS Team was based in BISAG to carry out their GIS mapping exercise and to get trained in various GIS Applications.   

What future plans does the Gujarat Police have regarding the implementation of geospatial technology?

HDIITS (Home Department Integrated Information Technology Solution) is a state-level software which has been developed with the help of Home Department, Government of Gujarat. This project is also supported by CCTNS (Crime Criminal Tracking Network and System) Project of Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. The HDIITS Project is currently being implemented across more than 1100 locations of Home Department, Government of Gujarat. Integration of GIS Map with the HDIITS Application is under progress and would soon be rolled out across the state.