In India’s silicon valley, traffic police to stop using Blackberry, automate traffic management. Urban chaos continues

A project aimed at reducing corruption and improving traffic management in Bangalore with the help of Blackberry phones is about to be shut down. Traffic cops in Bangalore, one of the first in the country to start using Blackberry mobile phones on the field to track violations are going to stop using the phone, according to a report in The Hindu today.

With the help of about 300 Blackberry phones, 160 surveillance cameras, interceptors and enforcement cameras, the police have collected nearly Rs 30 million in fine from September 2011- August 2012. While fine collection has gone up over the years, corruption has also increased and the police are now looking to newer methods of checking violations., the report says.

The phones, which talk to a central database containing of traffic violations and a Bluetooth printing device were used to increase accountability of policemen.  Top cops are now thinking of ways to issue tickets without human intervention. This will be done mostly through closed circuit television cameras installed in hundreds of locations in the city.

Bangalore is also set to get a new snazzy traffic management center as part of a Rs 350 crore five year modernisation project. Police have been replacing old signals with vehicle actuated, networked signals that are controlled y the Traffic Management Center. Number of cameras are also being increased.

Bangalore’s traffic police is known to take to technology quickly. When Facebook and Twitter became big, the department took to social media to crack down on offenders. Citizen could click a picture and post on the traffic police’s Facebook wall for them to take action. Bangalore cops also provide traffic alerts on mobile phones through a partnership with telecom operators.

Urban Chaos

The sleepy south Indian city which woke up to the IT boom over two decades ago is an sad example of urban chaos now. Increasing population of people as well as vehicles have put pressure on the city’s grossly inadequate infrastructure. While modes of private transport jumped leaps and bounds public transport did not keep pace with the population boom.

Bangalore has nearly 3.8 million vehicles plying on its narrow roads. Image: Bangalore Traffic

The police claim that using technology has brought down number of accidents, and increased fine collection. However, there is very little they can do about bad roads and sometimes no roads. There are about 3.8 million vehicles on Bangalore’s narrow roads and this is growing at 7-10 % year on year. Almost all the roads in Bangalore are overloaded way beyond their capacity. Average travel speed has come down to about 15 km per hour in the city, now called the Silicon Valley of India.

The city’s problems with infrastructure has been an object of critique for many years now. Nearly everyone from visiting world luminaries to resident welfare associations have expressed their anguish from time to time but little has improved.

Other Indian cities aren’t faring all that well either. Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai have their share of traffic woes. An analysis of 168, 330 online conversations by IBM released yesterday said that despite recent infrastructure improvements, less pollution and a solid public transit system, Delhites are experiencing a far higher amount of stress (50 percent) than in Mumbai (29 percent) or Bangalore (34 percent).