As thousands of people turn up for the Kumbh Mela, in Haridwar, the Uttarakhand Police has deployed artificial intelligence (AI) to zoom in on those without masks. These gadgets are being deployed at the Kumbh Mela for the first time.
This year, the government expects over a million pilgrims a day to bathe in the sacred river; and on most auspicious days April 12, 14 and 21 – over five million people are expected per day, for a total of 100 million celebrants. As such several directives have been issued to control the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. Thermal screening checkpoints have been set up and efforts are being made to sanitize the restrooms and sleeping quarters.
Over 350 CCTV cameras have been installed at different locations in the mela area. And about a 100 of these are equipped with sensors that generate an alert when the camera zeros in on a person without a mask. The AI-equipped cameras also generate an alert when sites are identified as vulnerable to stampede. The cameras also keep count of vehicles at parking lots and spot objects lying unattended for more than 10 minutes.
Officials, as per The Indian Express, said 278 of the 350 cameras are fixed ones and 22 of the pan-tilt zoom variety; 10 cameras have been installed at entry points for automatic number plate recognition of vehicles.
Mukesh Thakur, additional SP in charge of the Police Surveillance Control Room at Kumbh, said that when a site identified as vulnerable gets crowded beyond 75% of its capacity, the control room gets an alert, at which point, entry of people to these sites will be immediately stopped. “A trial of these cameras equipped with AI-capabilities had been done during the first shahi snan on March 11. Now, it will be used during the entire Kumbh Mela period.”
About 10,000 security personnel have been deployed to control and supervise the crowd in Haridwar and Rishikesh.