Indian Railway Police Force Chief reports 96% accuracy in facial recognition system trial
The Director-General of the Railway Police Force (RPF), Sanjay Chander, has informed The Hindu in an interview that the Indian Railways are looking to install facial recognition systems in 200 railway stations as part of its efforts to enhance security. NtechLab, a global facial recognition system provider, is well-positioned to supply the technology.
To trial its effectiveness, Bengaluru railway stations were equipped with facial recognition cameras and accompanying software technology as part of a pilot project. Chander found that facial recognition systems are reliable, even when someone is wearing a veil or mask. If there is a matching photo on their wanted list, the system can detect any visible features and issue alerts to the RPF.
The biometric algorithm is supplied by NtechLab.
To test the technology, they used masked decoys and managed to receive matches in 96 percent of cases. Currently, 861 railway stations have CCTVs installed, while 5,668 coaches are fitted with CCTV cameras inside. However, Chander points out that these need to be upgraded in order to extract quality feed.
While the RPF runs the pilot experiment in Bengaluru, it does not have a separate capital expenses budget to fund the initiative. The proposal has been moved to the Ministry of Women and Child Development for approval from the Nirbhaya Fund.
According to Chander, there is a serious need for the railways to strengthen its infrastructure security, considering the RPF is facing a shortage of human resources.
“Of 74,719 sanctioned posts, up to 65,862 are filled, and the rest of the 8,857 posts are lying vacant. We have nearly 1,700 to 1,800 personnel retiring annually and recruitment cycles are not regular,” he said.
Addressing issues of child and drug trafficking is also a priority for the RPF. All in all, 559 trafficked persons were rescued in 2022, with 430 of them being underaged boys, 85 girls, 18 adult males and 26 females. Furthermore, 193 traffickers were arrested in connection with the cases.
Chander noted that the RPF is well-versed in the source states of child trafficking, such as Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand. Moreover, narcotic drugs worth ₹800 million or roughly US$9.65 million were seized on the rail route in 2022.
“What is being seized is just the tip of the iceberg, as drug traffickers are using the railways as a lucrative route for their operations,” he said. Unscrupulous contractual staff have also been found to be involved in cases such as these.
“While conducting surprise checks, we found that contraband was hidden in various pockets of coaches or bathrooms — this cannot occur without help from staff,” Chander added.