THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Central Intrusion Monitoring System (CIMS) project, conceived to thwart burglary attempts in commercial, residential and public buildings using advanced technology, was launched with much fan fare three months ago. As per the initial plan CIMS, an advanced technical interface software, allows the police to track information and monitor the relevant CCTV cameras installed as part of the project at various locations and react within minutes. But like many of state’s ambitious projects, this too has courted controversy right from the beginning with a section officers questioning the government’s decision to entrust the security project with a private firm.
That the project has failed to take off is evident from the fact that the police department’s technology partner, Galaxon International Pvt Ltd, only managed to enrol 10 customers against the targeted 400-500 customers in the first three months. According to a feasibility study conducted by Keltron, which assists the project on behalf of the state government, the target is to add 1,000 customers every year. The project needs at least 7,000 customers to break even.
As per the bidding documents, Galaxon will stay invested in the project for 15 years as per the Build-Own-Operate-and-Transfer (BOOT) model. After which the entire apparatus will be handed over to the police. Keltron helps the technology partner run the project and collects monthly monitoring charge from the customers. Records show that Galaxon has invested around `18 crore in the project so far.
Pvt participation TNIE was the first to report the concerns regarding the participation of a private company in a major security project. The report, titled ‘Pvt eye’ for citizens’ security raises eyebrows’ on November 3, 2019, quoted former state police chief T P Senkumar questioning the propriety of involving a private entity into citizens’ security aspects. Several questions were also raised against the competency of the private partner.
A senior Keltron officer told TNIE that the idea was first mooted in 2011 and a formal order was issued in 2014. Till 2018, five tenders were floated to find a technology partner and Galaxon was the one that submitted the lowest quote. Dismissing any leakage of data, the officer said the round-the-clock monitoring cell will be manned by an SI and two civil police officers, apart from an engineer of the private firm. The recorded footage will be public document and can be accessed through an RTI query.
However, the official explanations leave too many questions unanswered. It is claimed that the project was started in 2011 and first tender was floated in 2014. It is said Galaxon was the only bidder till the last round. But how come a company incorporated only in 2017 participate in a bid held three years ago? The claim that the parent company of Galaxon was functioning in the Middle East does not adequately answer how a non-entity took part in the bidding in India.
The other big question is related to safety of data. Officials said police and Keltron are responsible for handling vital data. But they don’t have an answer as to how they would keep private entity, which developed the software, can be kept out of obtaining the data. It is not that similar central monitoring systems are not implemented in other parts of the world. Countries where such systems are implemented procure them from private developers. However, unlike in the state, security officers are trained to run the system independent of the private suppliers. State’s claim that it can only implement such projects through public-private-partnerships due to paucity of funds does not conclusively answer many vital questions.
The control room is manned by an SI and two civil police officers apart from an engineer of private firm
The monthly subscription charge is between D500 and D2,750
1,000 customers are expected to join and the project is expected to break-even in 9-10 years
The private company has invested around D18 crore so far
In the initial three months, only 10 customers joined the project against the target of 400-500 customers
Of the monthly monitoring charges levied from customers, 10 per cent goes to Keltron, 13 per cent to state government and the rest to the private firm
A control room has been set up at the police headquarters to monitor round-the-clock developments with special hardware and network video management software to communicate with the intrusion alarm and CCTV systems installed on customer’s premises