Tech that! Mumbai Police's fitness tests score high on accuracy this year

Radio frequency identification tags and daily video recordings leave both candidates and police at ease

Photo finishes in fitness tests are no longer the Mumbai Police’s nightmare. This year, it has adopted radio frequency identification (RFID), an advanced technology used in long-distance races to keep track of runners, to sift through 1.43 lakh candidates for its ongoing process for recruitment of 1,250 constables. The technology will not only ensure accuracy of test results, but will also ensure transparency.

Dogged by allegations of inaccurate and ambiguous test results, the police have adopted the RFID technology for the most rigorous test of all — the 1,600-m run.

A radio chip is tagged with each runner’s identification badge. As the candidates race to the finishing line, sensors there take readings from each chip, thus ensuring high accuracy. This year, the 16,000 m and 800 m races are being conducted on two service roads near Eastern Express Highway in Ghatkopar East and Kanjurmarg.  Pics/Rajesh Gupta
A radio chip is tagged with each runner’s identification badge. As the candidates race to the finishing line, sensors there take readings from each chip, thus ensuring high accuracy. This year, the 16,000 m and 800 m races are being conducted on two service roads near Eastern Express Highway in Ghatkopar East and Kanjurmarg.  Pics/Rajesh Gupta

Under the constable recruitment process, a candidate undergoes four ground tests — long jump, shot put, pull-ups and 100-m race. Those who clear these have to slug it out in the finals in batches of 20 runners each — a 1,600-m race for men and 800 m for women.

“In order to ensure 100% transparency in the recruitment process with zero error, we are using the RFID technology, beginning this year,” says Kaisar Khalid, additional commissioner of police.

Tag it
How is the technology a boon? It simply helps keep track of candidates all through a race. A radio chip is attached to each runner’s identification number tag pinned to the chest. When a candidate finishes the race, panels of readers/sensors attached on frames at the finishing line reads the chip and records the time he/she arrives at. The difference between the time frames — from start to finish — gives the total time one took to complete the race. On the basis of this result, the score is counted as per a points table. The police are also recording every test on video cameras this year to ensure transparency. A CD is made of each day’s recordings and sent to the president of the Police Recruitment Commission and joint commissioner of police (administration).

“If a candidate claims that the result is wrong or has been manipulated, then we show him/her the video recording of his/her race on a big TV screen,” says Khalid.

The entire process of handling the technology has been outsourced to a private firm with an expertise in the field, he adds.

Santosh Parande, a 20-year-old candidate from Akola, believes that the new system will rein in malpractices.

Vijay Chavan (21), a candidate from Jalgaon, feels that the technology will cut short the time of the recruitment process. “Candidates from out of town don’t have to wait for long to finish the tests.”

The fitness tests began around a week ago. The police hope to wrap them up in just a month with the help of RFID, instead of the usual three months.

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