A couple of weeks ago I visited Mumbai Municipal Corporation’s Disaster Management Setup. And I was impressed with their dedication towards creating a very usable Center, which I could see will actually have the ability to swing into action and make a difference to suffering during tragedies. Drills are important for a state of readiness and this Center was doing it through following well defined protocols in attending to peoples’ day to day emergencies in private and public spaces in the city. So in case of the rare large scale emergency, the Center will have been well experienced in following the laid down coordination protocols. Their attitude of constantly improving their protocols and performance by integrating the learning of their day to day experiences was also very reassuring.
Seeing the infrastructure and personnel at this Emergency Response Center made me think about how it would add so much into the state of security in our society, if people themselves could be provided the wherewithal to watch out for their own personal security, security of their children or the security of their homes. This would enhance general security, awareness about security while at the same time, not add into the workload of the police.
What I as a private citizen would be worried about would be issues like whether my young child has been safely transported by the school bus to and from school. I would worry if my home is safe when I’m away on holiday. I would worry if my young daughter would have the ability to call for and get police help if she needs it. I would be worried for my aged parent living alone in the city and whether he/she can call for help in an emergency.
The solutions to these worries, which are also simultaneously a large factor affecting the state of security in a city, are well within the realm of possibility of the technology being deployed by the state if the same could be leveraged for this purpose. Already there is talk on using mobile apps for women’s’ safety, which will enable the distressed woman to send her location to the police control room in case she faces a situation requiring urgent police help. Such apps are currently available on the market, but I see a huge impact on general levels of security in society if government, through its local municipal bodies and police, offer such applications to schools, housing societies and women and senior citizens. The idea being that the users watch out for their own safety and that of their property through these mobile apps or devices and are immediately able to contact the police control room in case of a problem. There are also some experiments happening on creating ‘smart cities’, which will have wifi coverage in public spaces. I don’t know if the provision of public infrastructure of bandwidth in such projects is enough to also support such fee based usage by the residents of ‘location based apps’. But some thought needs to go into this at the project planning stage itself.
Currently too people and police interact for enhancing the state of security in an area through co-opting of volunteers for security duties in patrolling the area or during major public festivals or as traffic wardens to assist the Traffic Police. However, in this age of technology, much more is possible.