With a population of over 10 million, Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) is a true megacity. The third most-populous city in India, not only is Bengaluru large—it is booming: the population has more than doubled in size since 2001.
Such explosive growth can create considerable law-enforcement and security challenges. That’s why India-based Mistral Solutions was recently chosen to provide the Bengaluru City Police (BCP) with a new mobile command-and-control vehicle equipped with Zetron’s Digital Console System (DCS) 5020.
Implemented in August of 2014, the vehicle is delivering the centralized communication and surveillance capabilities the BCP requires to deploy their operations quickly and manage events effectively on the ground.
Located in southern India in the state of Karnataka, Bengaluru is a bustling, diverse metropolis that is known for its high concentration of high-tech firms. Indeed, it has been dubbed the “Silicon Valley of Asia” because it is the nation’s leading exporter of information technology.
Bengaluru City Police
The BCP is responsible for the city’s law-enforcement and security activities. This includes maintaining law and order, providing security when needed, participating in community crime-prevention activities, and managing traffic.
The BCP fulfils its mission through a network of “beats” that are staffed by foot-patrol and vehicle-patrol officers day and night. Additional support is provided by special mobile-patrol units; traffic-patrol units; and armed, mobile strike-force units that are stationed in strategic areas throughout the city.
The police modernization plan
To keep pace with Bengaluru’s growth and establishment as a major technological hub, the Karnataka state government recently invested in a police modernization plan to update the BCP’s security and law-enforcement operations. This included obtaining and equipping a new mobile command vehicle.
The equipment the BCP had used previously for such events was time-consuming and cumbersome to set up. Surveillance cameras and power and data cables had to be installed several days before an event. And communications took place over walkie-talkies that were not centrally coordinated. Not only was it difficult to set up for planned events, but it did not support the rapid deployment or centralization required to effectively manage quickly developing situations or emergencies.
“The BCP wanted a new command vehicle that would provide improved security and surveillance and a communication infrastructure that they could deploy in a matter of hours,” explains Pawan Vashisht, Mistral Solutions’ General Manager for Homeland Security. “This would improve police presence at public gatherings such as parades, religious functions, political rallies, cricket matches, and mega exhibitions, and would help ensure the safety and security of citizens and VIPs attending these events.”
Mistral and Zetron win the project
In November of 2013, the BCP issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a mobile command-and-control vehicle equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance and communications equipment.
The proposals they received in response to the RFP underwent technical and business evaluations. As a result of this process, Mistral Solutions was awarded the project with their proposal featuring Zetron’s DCS-5020 integrated dispatch system.
Based in India, Mistral is a systems design and engineering company that provides services and solutions for customers in the fields of defense and homeland security.
Vashisht explains some of the reasons why Mistral and Zetron were chosen for the project. “Mistral has a well-established reputation for partnering with global technology leaders to provide solutions that meet clients’ needs very effectively,” he says. “Plus, the Karnataka State Police were already using a Zetron system that they were very happy with, so they provided a great reference for Zetron. Compared to other solutions, the DCS-5020 is a more appropriate size for vehicle deployment and offers better sound quality. And while the other solutions proposed were button based, the DCS-5020 is PC-based and utilizes touchscreens. This makes it much easier to learn and operate. When all of these factors were taken into account, it was clear that the DCS-5020 offered the best features for this application; it also came in at a better price.”
The integrated communications solution chosen to equip the command vehicle included: two Zetron DCS-5020 digital switches; two basic, dual radio-module channels; two telephone exchange modules; and one operator console with push-to-talk (PTT) footswitch, headset, PTT microphone, and one instant recall recorder license.
Surveillance equipment included a mast-mounted, pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) camera and Wi-Fi antenna; six wireless, battery-powered cameras; two wireless transceivers with body cameras; and two operator stations.
The challenges of a mobile environment
Implementing multiple systems in a mobile environment required some creative problem solving. For instance, because the equipment was being installed in a medium-sized vehicle, the available rack space for the dispatch console and other systems was severely limited. So Mistral set up the equipment to make highly efficient use of the space. The equipment also had to be installed to withstand the rigors of its mobile setting. “Mistral put the IT racks on a ‘ruggedized’ base with shock and vibration mounts,” explains Vashisht. “With the help of Zetron’s Australasia team, Mistral also designed and installed rack-mount trays for the speakers to minimize vibration.”
Hands-on and onsite training
Once the equipment installation was complete, operators were introduced to the DCS-5020 and other systems through a one-day, hands-on training session. Mistral’s team followed this up by accompanying the police on several deployments to make sure operators felt confident using the new equipment.
“Even operators who are not very familiar with English were able to quickly understand the touchscreens, icons, and features on the DCS-5020,” says Vashisht. “Within a short time, they were operating the equipment very successfully in the field.”
The new mobile command vehicle has been in use for the better part of a year and has been deployed successfully at a number of events. It was part of the post-incident surveillance effort in response to the late-December 2014 bomb blast on Church Street in Bengaluru. It was also used on New Year’s Eve to ensure the safety of the crowd in the Bengaluru Central Business District, and it was deployed again during the 2015 Republic Day Parade in January.
“The DCS-5020 has greatly improved the speed and agility with which the BCP is able to respond to events as they happen,” says Vashisht. “It is also delivering important functionality that allows the BCP to conference and patch across different systems and agencies, which is critical during a large-scale event.”
As is so often the case, the success of one project gives rise to others. Mistral is already planning to provide the DCS-5020 to police control rooms that dispatch help whenever a citizen calls in with an emergency.