Friday, November 23, 2007

Good idea, but poor execution

Good idea, but poor execution
Ambarish B and Amit S Upadhye report on the abject under-utilisation of the BlackBerry in traffic management

Bangalore: The ambitious B-Trac project, aimed at minimising traffic woes in the city, is crying for proper implementation. And the BlackBerrys are a classic case of good intentions gone awry.
A month after the gizmo was introduced, traffic police have gone back to their scribbling pads. Not one of the 280 handsets is being used.
Using a BlackBerry, a police officer could instantly access the antecedents of the motorist by entering the driving licence (DL) number and access the vehicle owner’s name and address after entering the vehicle registration number.
Due to lack of upgradation in the network, handsets failed to display the details of the motorist. Also, there was no proper co-ordination with the transport department, which has the database of all vehicles registered in the state. Though information sent through a BlackBerry reached the police department’s traffic management centre at the Public Utility Building, there was no supporting feed from the transport department. Though the city has 10 RTOs, only five are computerised. It meant the licence details at these five RTOs was available.
What’s worse, a BlackBerry was useless if the vehicle was outside the city and state. There are 54 RTOs in the state. As the network does not have details of these vehicles, the officers could not issue a notice or challan to a motorist with an outstation licence or vehicle.
Sadly, the officers used them as mere billing machines and levied fines on motorists, until they were finally withdrawn.
Is it all over with the BlackBerry? No, says the traffic police. After the initial hiccups, the department is confident of relaunching them again.
Traffic officers are again undergoing special training from the gadget providers, and the new gadgets will be introduced across Bangalore in a week’s time. Top officials of the department say that by next week, the BlackBerrys will be used to start noting the offences of motorists on city roads. Around 300 traffic police officers including traffic ACPs, inspectors and sub inspectors will be provided with BlackBerrys after the training programme.
Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) K C Ramamurthy told The Times of India that the police department is upgrading the software to help track repeat offenders and computerise fine collection.
“In two weeks, an upgraded software will be introduced. The vehicle owner’s name would appear by entering the registration number. The effort is also on to upgrade the system to know the details of the motorist with the driving licence number,’’ he said.
The new device will enable traffic officers on duty to know traffic density in adjacent areas. In future, the same device can be connected to the Bangalore Traffic Management System. It can also be linked to the signboards to give traffic updates. People can now register complaints on the spot, instead of going to the jurisdictional police station. An FIR copy will either be sent through mail or will be given from the nearest printing centre.
The device allows the officer to check and verify whether the driver is a repeat offender, and guide the officer to take necessary action. The application is designed to check the pending violation and collect the fine amount of pending violation from the offender. Officers on court duty can print the chargesheet online at the court premises. Higher authorities can take stock of all activities related to their jurisdiction from their officers.


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