How this Guwahati startup hopes to help the police fight crime
Awakened by the events of molestation and crime in 2012 in Guwahati, Sarfaraz Hassan and Saifur Rahman, like any other citizens, wanted to bring a change to the system. Striving to take the onus of bettering the system, Sarfaraz wrote to the DGP of Assam offering a helping hand. However on connecting with the crime branch, he was told that his idea of tracking crime was too ‘idealistic’.
But that didn’t deter Sarfaraz’s and Saifur’s startup- Glomindz Solutions from making inroads into creating a simple community based and real-time crime monitoring platform for the police.
Explaining the situation in Guwahati, Sarfaraz says:
Guwahati is the hub of the North East where there are hundreds of vehicles commuting on the streets. In these scenarios, car theft is a common incident of crime reaching an alarming degree. On the other hand, hotels at Paltan Bazaar alone have 15000 visitors visiting the city. Therefore it gets difficult to keep a tab of guest records manually by the police.
Currently, the project is working to receive inputs for only car thefts and hotel guest list submissions which seem to be a major concern for the Guwahati police.
Started in 2013, today the SMS based solution Crimatrix holds one and a half years of mapped time data of crimes across Guwahati. Inspired by CompStat solution (a similar platform operating in the US), Sarfaraz explains his solution’s interesting bottom to top approach.
We are trying to engage with sub-inspectors and officers-in-charge since they are the ones who are best informed about ground solutions, unlike some of our other competitors who think otherwise. Moreover, we aim to keep our technology simplified to SMSs since neither do most of these officers not know how to use computers, nor do we want to use a lot of data. However, our dream is to make these statistics available to the general public in real time.
Although, their vision is to expand this pilot project into a product which will help civilians to get preventive alerts on any organised crimes, they’re still trying to receive a long term commitment from the Assam police. Until then the project will continue to be a pilot.
Read more: Will online FIRs make a difference?
Nonetheless, that hasn’t dissuaded Glomindz from taking the solution to the next level. They have initiated talks with state police officials of Rajasthan, Orissa, Manipur and Meghalaya respectively.
On an average, Crimatrix receives approximately 10 cases on a daily basis which leads to an average of almost 300-350 cases per month. On their accomplishment and impact made, Sarfaraz comments:
I’ve got calls on these numbers with panicking victims (of theft) on the other side of the phone call. So, somewhere I know people are aware of this solution. Today, the time taken to report a theft (in Guwahati) has drastically reduced from 24 hours to just 2 hours after the incident has taken place. We want to work further and completely eradicate this delay.
Mr Amitava Sinha who was the DCP (Crime) with Guwahati police has seen the project since its inception (in 2012) to its commissioning (in 2013) and thereafter. He says:
This particular tool of analysing/searching the daily database of hotels and guest houses online by police has helped us solve several cases of missing persons who having disputes with family were found lodged in hotels although they were reported missing in their own districts. It has also helped in tracing young eloped couples and they were handed over to their guardians. The young team of Glomindz still has a lot of new ideas to implement and improve upon the existing ones.
Facing the Heat
When speaking about competition a confident Sarfaraz tells us that most of the vendors today in the market do not have a personal connect and an existing relationship with the police. Most of these vendors providing solutions just offer the software, but lack the synergy and will to work closely with the officials on ground. Moreover, most of the software giants developing these solutions are building them in compliance with US standards and not keeping the Indian scenario in mind. This, Sarfaraz claims, is Crimatrix’s differentiating factor.
However, what is a boon for the solution is also its bane. It’s main competitor is the government’s CCTNS project (Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems) which is a 2000 Crore investment by the Central Government. Moreover, most of the heat faced by the solution also comes from the applications developed for the police of individual states.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, the CCTNS project works on central and state models. Moreover every state has been given the freedom to choose their own modules depending on the scenarios prevalent. These state modules are where the founders aim to create their mark in.
In present times, it is uncanny to see a venture plunging directly into helping the government, building their primary product offering to assist the officials. But the startup’s zeal to make that happen can only be described by Sarfaraz’s words, “When you want to make a difference, you just want to. That difference can be brought only when approached through the right channels of working with the government/ authorities.”
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