The ‘e-Beat’ system in Chennai fails to work to the expectations
Chennai saw the introduction of the ‘e-Beat system’ in 2001 which was revamped in 2008, to strengthen night patrolling and to monitor the daily performance of police personnel. The e-Beat machines were installed at road junctions in residential areas and the beat policemen were expected to swipe their cards. These machines would store the data like the time, place, name and number of beat policeman which was to be transferred to a computer to analyse and evaluate their performance.
Reply to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed that more than 70% of the scanners in the e-Beat machines are non-functional. The machines were procured at a cost of Rs. 30 lakhs while the police has spent nearly Rs. 30 lakhs on their maintenance. The Comptroller and Auditor General reported in 2011 that despite an Annual Maintenance Contract (AMC), the ‘e-Beat system’ was not functioning. The failure of the system has been attributed to:
· Resistance of the beat constables to the technology which would not allow them to skip patrolling.
· The possibility of the technology being obsolete or the machines being delicate has not been ruled out.
· Lack of the monitoring by the authorities.
· Poor support system by the AMC provider.
It has been reported that the ‘e-beat’ system has been functioning well in many cities like Bangalore. Amongst the metros, Chennai was the first to adopt this technology. The city has over 5,500 installed CCTV cameras including those by the police and commercial establishments. The ‘e-beat’ system helps in creating a digitised map of the pattern of movement of policemen, the path chosen and the time taken for effective patrolling.