Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Crime Response and Action Eco-system - Idealistic yet Possible

Let me paint a picture for you.

On a busy Monday morning, Anahita, a 26-year professional is walking out of a coffee shop with her much needed morning coffee when suddenly she hears a loud bang. Then suddenly she sees it. Two men on a motorbike and wearing helmets have just shot a man in his SUV. Instinctively, she pulls out her smartphone and presses the power button twice. She has just sent out a distress notification.

Anahita’s location is now blinking on the screen of a Police Control Room operator. The operator recognizes that signal well. He locates the nearest PCR Van location on his touch screen and selects it. A direct communication link between the operator and PCR-A Van has been activated.

Operator: There is a distress signal from A-Block Market. The witness is Anahita. Her location in now active on your screen. Please investigate ASAP.
PCR-A Van: We are on our way. ETA 3 minutes.
Operator: I will update you with details.

The operator then selects the blinking signal generated by Anahita and a call to her has now been activated.

Operator: Ma’am this is the emergency response team. Are you under distress?
Anahita: A man just got shot in front of me.
Operator: The PCR Van is on its way. Did you see who shot the victim?
Anahita: Two men on a bike. I managed to memorize the license number. It’s XY 14 TM 9198. They rode towards C-Block.

The operator selects PCR-B Van, which is closest to C-Block on her screen.

Operator: We have a firing situation at A-block. The accused are on a motorbike with license plate XY 14 TM 9198. The bike is registered in the name of a ‘Kumar’. City tracking for their vehicle has been activated. Their current location is now active on your screen. Please pursue. PCR-A Van is reaching A-Block.
PCR-B Van: We are on our way.

Operator: Anahita. We have recorded your statement and you are a witness to this incident. Help is on the way. Please stand by.

The operator now selects the + sign on the right panel. He then goes on to select the closest medical facility and a direct communication link has been activated with the hospital’s emergency response executive.

Operator: Please dispatch an ambulance to A-block immediately. A man has been shot.

The operator completes the crime incident form with all details provided by Anahita. He just needs one more detail. PCR-A Van has reached A-block and is assessing the situation. Karan, the head constable approaches Anahita whose photo is on the tablet that he is carrying.

Karan: Ma’am, did you give the distress notification.
Anahita: I did.
Karan: Did you give this statement? (Shows her the statement on his tablet)
Anahita: I did.
Karan: Please put your right thumb on this sensor.

Anahita’s Aadhaar card registration manages to confirm her identity on Karan’s tablet.
The authorization from Anahita completes the operator’s form and he hits done. A digital witness report is now added to the case folder. A copy has been shared with the Crime Research and Analysis Wing.

This is part of what I believe will be the ideal emergency response system to crime incidents. Such a system would significantly improve the chances of the accused getting caught, the victim getting medical assistance in time, and a speedy trial due to evidence provided by witnesses. The technology that is required to make this possible already exists – Smartphone Applications, GPS tracking, Radio Communication, Finger-print-based Identification, and Navigation. In terms of technology, such an eco-system is not impossible to build. But high-end technology is only a medium to speed up the process. The most important ingredient that makes this system a powerful tool to fight crime is Anahita’s little effort of hitting the power button on her smartphone twice. Would you have done it?

The first step is to report crime. Start doing it today. 

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