Great! Indian Railways to install COVID-19 surveillance cameras at railway stations; here’s what they will do

By: |
June 26, 2020 2:24 PM

RailTel, the telecom arm of Indian Railways, floated a tender to purchase around 800 such cameras.

The national transporter has called for tenders to purchase these cameras for railway stations as well as other places that are expected to see significant footfall.

Indian Railways to install Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based ‘COVID surveillance’ cameras that detect body temperatures and whether a person is wearing a mask. The national transporter has called for tenders to purchase these cameras for railway stations as well as other places that are expected to see significant footfall. A few zones of Indian Railways have already purchased these systems, such as in Mumbai. According to officials quoted in an IE report, the AI-based COVID surveillance cameras were meant for the next phase of containment strategy to go hand in hand with the country’s gradual return to normalcy. However, a crucial specification has been excluded by Indian Railways, called “black body” temperature in the COVID surveillance cameras in many cases.

According to industry sources quoted in the report, while each of the cameras with black body sensing capability cost upwards of Rs 4 lakh, the cameras without this feature would be cheaper by around half of that. RailTel, the telecom arm of Indian Railways, floated a tender to purchase around 800 such cameras. Initially, Railtel did not include the black body detection feature as a specification but now it has issued a corrigendum to include it.

Over the past one month, the tenders that were called by Central Railway and North Frontier Railway zones, for installation of these cameras at large railway stations in Mumbai and in Guwahati respectively- sought the surveillance cameras to have the ability to detect black body temperature. But on the other hand, the tenders that were called by zones such as Northern, South Western and Southern Railways, have not included this feature in their specifications, giving mixed signals to the industry.

The US Food and Drug Administration has listed “accurate blackbody temperature reference source” in its enforcement policy for telethermographic systems, as one of the specifications for temperature accuracy from a COVID point of view in such systems. Large areas can be covered by these thermal cameras for detecting and recording temperatures of multiple people at once.

However, according to an Indian Railways’ spokesman, both types of surveillance cameras are acceptable, depending on the purpose. He said, scanners with the black body are preferable, where mass transit is present and scanners without black body are acceptable for normal/controlled movement, the spokesman said. The zonal levels took all the decisions considering the best needs and solutions in the given circumstances. Both the types of cameras are efficient and good, he added. In the tender for North Frontier Railway, around 35 companies participated. While 15 companies competed for the one that was floated by the Central Railway zone, the report added.

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