India seeks a technology fix for internal security - The New Indian Express

India seeks a technology fix for internal security

Published: 15th August 2013 05:40 PM

Last Updated: 15th August 2013 05:40 PM

The Indian government, in association with the private sector, is setting up a centre of excellence on internal security that will function as a "resource centre", do high-end research and develop cost-effective, state-of-the-art technology which can be integrated into the security apparatus to tackle problems like naxalism, urban terrorism and cyber attacks.

The centre, being set up at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), would develop electronic equipment, which can be indigenously manufactured for use by security agencies like the police and paramilitary forces.

Over the past decade, India's internal security landscape has seen dramatic changes. And, as the economic base of the country expands, it is widely believed that threats to its security will increase. Given these changes and the complex security environment, the government is seeking to strengthen the national security infrastructure and communication and information management systems.

The idea for the centre is born out of the perspective and realisation that technology is an enabler. The current technology penetration level across different segments of internal security is very low when compared to developed economies. The lack of appropriate technology for surveillance and secure communications continues to plague the system.

Officials and domain experts say there is a need to develop products, specifically for internal security, such as phones that would work better in topographies like thick jungle, and mine detection radars. There are also concerns about imported equipment, which is not readily available in the domestic market or is too expensive for deployment.

Ajay Kumar, joint secretary in the department of electronics and information technology, told IANS that a detailed project report on the scope, funding and industry participation is being prepared for setting up the centre following a concept note submitted by IIT-B.

IIT-B has been running courses for police and paramilitary forces for the last 8 to 10 years on advances in technology which help in operations and investigations. It has been holding discussions with security agencies to work out the feasibility of the centre. Last month, it held a workshop involving all stakeholders from various security agencies like the CRPF, the NIA and state police to get more insight into their requirements.

"We held discussions with senior IPS officers across the country recently to decide the form of the centre," Abhay Karandikar, head of electronics engineering at IIT-B who is spearheading the centre, told IANS.

Karandikar said the project was being envisioned as a "resource centre" to which the security agencies could turn for advice, consultancy and technology needs.

According to IIT-B Director Devang Khakhar, a large number of faculties are working on technologies which have direct applications to internal security, while the centre could serve as an umbrella under which faculty members with different specializations could pursue research in relevant areas.

The possible areas of research and development work was discussed at a meeting between IIT-B and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). K. Sekhar, chief controller (R&D), explained the role of DRDO in terms of sharing its resources and technology meant for armed forces with police and paramilitary forces.

The specific areas where research could be carried out include communication systems, video surveillance and image processing, analytics, communication systems, sensors for explosive detection, robotics and autonomous devices such as unmanned aerial vehicles.

Karandikar said the expertise of DRDO could be leveraged wherever possible. However, according to him, there is a need to develop products specifically for internal security such as communication systems and RF Comb Generator for jamming IEDs.

"We can develop the prototypes, which have to be productionised," Karandikar added.

The centre would thus help develop a self-reliant domestic manufacturing base for sophisticated security technologies.

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