Lok Sabha elections, touted as the grand festival of democracy, are due next year and the poll bugle has already started resonating with the upcoming assembly elections in five states. However, this round of Indian General Elections is going to be unique in many aspects. It comes with the pretext of extensive rural and urban digitization, will witness the involvement of 133 million digitally-active first-time voters, and first-ever large-scale deployment of VVPAT machines to name a few.
So, as we eagerly wait for the elections that will decide the fate of our country for the next five years, here are five key areas where Advanced Surveillance and Security Framework can help the Election Commission (EC) bring a tangible difference on ground:
Ensuring Model Code of Conduct: The Model Code of Conduct – which prevents unauthorized usage of loud speakers, violation of restrictive orders, and usage of political symbols on the poll day – goes into force as soon as the election dates are announced. However, it goes without saying that this binding Code of Conduct is disregarded by multiple candidates and on multiple occasions. Using the Video Analytics feature of IP surveillance cameras, Election Commission can identify all acts of violation and book offenders in real-time along with the video proof of their offence.
Fake Voters: Fake voters have been a growing nuisance in India. This year, around 10,000 fake Voter ID cards were recovered before assembly elections in Karnataka. Soon after, about 60 lakh fake voters were reportedly identified in the electoral roll of Madhya Pradesh, some of whom were enrolled in different booths with same names and photographs. The Election Commission of India can eliminate all instances of fake voting by leveraging Facial Recognition technology within its polling booths based on the Voter ID data. Since this system will be centralized, it will also be able to identify same voter voting in different poll booths or during different phases of election.
More Proactive Response: Every Lok Sabha election in India witnesses massive mobilization of security forces. In 2014, about 11 million police and security officers were stationed across 930,000 polling booths. However, the sheer volume of operations along with its inherent complexity leaves multiple locations vulnerable to security breaches, which can result in booth capturing incidences, confrontation, or rigging. The usage of advanced surveillance solutions can enable the Election Commission to trim its on-ground force, while strategically stationing reserve troop for a more proactive response. Another benefit of this approach is that real-time updates of the ground zero will be available to all stakeholders, eliminating the scope of false alarms.
Decrease Overheads: By making the electoral process more dynamic, greater value can be extracted from the system while expending a relatively lower infrastructure. This can help decrease the related costs and make the elections more efficient and effective.
Increase Voter Confidence: With accusations around mass rigging, booth capturing, EVM malfunctioning, presence of unauthorized people, and so on continuing to surface with every passing elections, such incidences and the allegations thereof make a sizeable dent to the voter confidence. This defeats the whole purpose of conducting elections. In order to increase transparency and, with it, the voter confidence, video feeds of each and every booth can be uploaded online by the Election Commission for public scrutiny. Voter confidence will also receive a fillip by a slew of other measures such as eliminating the aforementioned fake voters from the system.
However, it must also be noted that IP-driven surveillance systems are IoT-based (Internet of Things) offerings, which opens them up to wide-ranging cybersecurity threats. Lately, the ill-equipped IoT cameras have been increasingly targeted by cyberattackers to create botnets or to penetrate deeper into the network. So, before deploying network cameras, it must be ensured that they are armed with the relevant cybersecurity framework to completely eliminate such threats.
Now, barely a few months remain for the General Elections in India. If deployed, Advanced IP Security and Surveillance Solutions will not just extend short-term benefits, but will also provide visible long-term incentives by increasing the voter turnout, strengthening the democratic framework of the country, and etching India’s identity as a progressive nation. Choosing the way we go is up to us.
Guest post by Sanjeev Gulati, VIVOTEK Country Manager, India & SAARC for Vivotek.
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