#Changemaker@InventureAcademy #OurTrafficOurVoice #FastForward
The Bangalore Traffic Police Centre (BTPC), a first of its kind, was established in 1930. It received a major renovation in 2010 with the addition of the B-Trac system. It exists to primarily control traffic and those who violate the laws of the system. It is interesting to notice how the Centre’s aims have been modified over the years to accommodate solving the problems faced by emergency services and ensuring accident-free roads from initially being focused on just curbing traffic.
On 8th December, the Fast-Forward team accompanied by a group of enthusiastic 5th Graders visited the BTPC, in order to gather in-depth information on how the Centre works; to collect factual data regarding Bangalore traffic; to interview the ACP as part of our video and to receive his advice for our project.
What was rather ironic was that it took two whole hours to reach the Bangalore Traffic Management Centre from Inventure Academy even though Google maps claimed it takes only 1 hour 22 minutes. Upon arrival, we were taken to a room which had LED screens attached together to form a gigantic screen, 83 ft. long and 11 ft. high. Live data feed from 175 surveillance cameras and 10 enforcement cameras across the city are used to record the license plates of those vehicles that violate traffic rules. This data is saved on a server and is later used when sending an inland letter to the owner of the vehicle, regarding the penalty he pays based on the kind of offence committed. A minor offence such as parking over a zebra-crossing is liable for a fine of Rs.100 while over-speeding can cost you up to Rs.500.
The second highlight of the visit was the interactive session with the ACP, Mr. Kasim Raja. He explained the features of the Centre and the kind of initiatives that are being implemented under him. What we learnt then was totally in contrast to our pre-conceived notions of the BTPC. Our initial impressions were subject to what we see in our everyday lives such as that of traffic policemen accepting bribes. Hence we assumed that the governing authority will be equally corrupt and similar to other governmental authorities which are trapped in the shackles of red-tapism. However, when we saw for ourselves the efforts that are being undertaken, it became evident that the job is extremely demanding and requires a high level of hard work and dedication. In Mr. Kasim’s own words, ‘’The very fact that we are working towards seeing a better tomorrow is motivation enough for us. ‘’
The next session was an exclusive interview with six members of the Fast Forward team interacting with Mr.Kasim. It was during this session that we were advised on our project and recorded relevant information for the purposes of our project. ‘Is there anything else we as students can do to tackle traffic?’ was one of the questions asked. He replied saying that the biggest challenge for the BTPC is spreading awareness about the dangers of traffic. Mr.Kasim believes that once we are aware of the threats of traffic, like death due to accidents and not giving way to emergency services, we instinctively realize that we must put an end to the problem.
The strength of the system employed at the BTPC is the connection between the traffic policeman and the correspondent at the Centre. On-road traffic policemen are equipped with Blackberry phones on violation is delivered via walkie-talkie. This system of connection is time-saving and helps prosecute the offender on the spot. Another strength includes the wide range of surveillance the BTPC has. Apart from the 175 surveillance cameras, the organisation also makes use of Interceptors, which are SUVs equipped with video-cameras to capture live incidents and take appropriate action.
Nonetheless, we must understand the magnitude of the problem. There are over 60 lakh vehicles in Bangalore and keeping track of each and every vehicle is an almost impossible task. The V/C ratio (the capacity of the road divided by the number of the cars on the road) is 1:4 when it should ideally be 1:1 or 1:2.
The trip to the BTPC was a huge eye-opener and stress-reliever as we now know that at least something is being done to tackle traffic. The data and advice gathered during the visit has led us to believe that the problem can be solved and only needs the combined efforts of all citizens. The city of Bangalore is reeling under air pollution, high accident rates and reduced productivity of its citizens, tackling traffic would put an end to such problems and increase the standards of living in the city. The data gathered showed us that the problem is not easy to solve but the determination of the ACP and men like him shows that anything is possible. Hence the biggest learning for us was that instead of criticizing the system, it is important we become part of the solution and support those who are part of it.