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Emergency alert system for women commuters by month end Emergency alert system for women commuters by month end

Jul-03-2015 | 0 Comments

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KOLKATA: From the end of July, women commuters of Eastern Railway (ER) will get to set off an alarm at the security control room at the press of a key on their mobile phones in case they get into trouble on trains and platforms. The system, at an advanced stage of development, will also enable women to record any incident on their cell phones and transfer it directly to the control room. This will make identification of the accused easier, in case he succeeds in making a getaway before a Railway Protection Force (RPF) task force arrives.

"On June 6, railway minister Suresh Prabhu announced that such a system will be operational in Kolkata soon. There is a similar system in Mumbai but that only works for phones where Apps can be downloaded. We decided to make an improvement. Our system will be available on all kinds of phones. Women need not be online to activate the service. They will simply need to register their numbers and keep us informed on their destination and the train they are taking. They can also nominate a person - a friend or relative - who will get the alert as well. From the security control room, the message will be immediately forwarded to the concerned RPF inspector-in-charge. An RPF escort team will try to move in immediately. If the train is in between two stations, a team will be waiting when it stops at the next platform," ER general manager R K Gupta told TOI.

ER is in the process of providing internet connectivity at RPF posts to enable the whole system to go online. Till then, it will operate through SMS. The receiver's mobile will beep every minute till he sees the message and replies that action has been initiated. There will be some pre-defined messages that can be sent automatically, depending on the nature of the crime. There will also be some empty fields where the user can write a message. As there will be designated receivers, people can't shirk responsibility as normally happens in a helpline, the GM said.

"Even if the user sends a blank SMS in a hurry, it will be considered as an emergency and assistance will be provided. Those who have cameras in their phones can also send images to help the security personnel identify the miscreant. We hope to introduce this system by the end of July. Initially, this will be for suburban women commuters. Later, this may be used in the Metro as well. This is a new system and there may be bugs that we shall eliminate as they arise. Security, particularly of women, is top priority for us and we don't wish to waste any time carrying out elaborate tests," Gupta added.

According to him, ER has also set up crack teams and deployed an additional 1,800 RPF personnel including women officers and constables at stations and on trains. The early morning and late night trains are getting more attention. The crack teams have been ordered to carry out surprise checks to nab criminals including molesters, druggers, pick-pockets and touts.

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