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Now webcasting for polling booths

Raktima Bose

— Photo: C. Venkatachalapathy

Third eye:Online monitoring system in the Cuddalore Collector's chamber equipped with big screens to monitor live the goings on in sensitive polling stations.

KOLKATA: Trouble-mongers will think twice before creating nuisance within polling booth premises during the State Assembly elections in West Bengal as live videos of more than 1,000 critical booths will be directly monitored by the Election Commission through “web-casting”.

Not just the Commission, even the public will be able to stream the live videos by logging on to the West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer's site.

A first-time initiative in State elections, the technique will be put to use at more than 150 critical booths across six districts in north Bengal during the first phase of elections on April 18.

Connectivity issues

Though the information technology cell of the State Election Commission had initially planned to bring almost every polling booth under the “web-cast” monitoring process, it had to scale the figure down after problems were faced with internet connectivity and logistics in the way of achieving the initial target.

“We are using a very efficient system named Flash Live Video (FLV) for the purpose that can perform at a very low bandwidth and can stream video from multiple sources and display them on multiple windows at the Commission's office. This will enable the Commission to monitor the situation live in several critical polling booths at once,” a senior official with the IT cell told The Hindu here on Tuesday.

The official said that the FLV technology could function with any broadband connectivity and did not require any software to run it.

Web-cameras would be mounted on laptops at different polling booth premises.

“While the provision will be most useful for booths located in remote locations, lack of internet connectivity has hampered the effort to reach a larger number of booths this time. We are working on the idea of using mobile phone cameras and iPod cameras to make the provision available to more booths in the next elections,” the official said.

Special Correspondent adds from Cuddalore:

An online monitoring system for keeping a tab on the goings-on in 289 critical and sensitive polling stations in Cuddalore district has been put in place in the chamber of Collector P. Seetharaman, who is also the District Electoral Officer.

Three big television screens have been erected on the wall to watch the happenings in the booths, categorised as troublesome ones, at the rate of three Assembly constituencies each.

Besides, there are nine laptops dedicated to one Assembly segment each.

Mr. Seetharaman along with Election Observer D.S. Dhok Rajurkar, Superintendent of Police Ashwin Kotnis and Additional Collector (Development) Veera Raghava Rao inspected the functioning of the online system on Tuesday evening.

Students give

directions

The technical hands, mostly college students, at the receiving end give directions to those operating the web-camera fixed laptops in the polling stations to carry out proper adjustments regarding close-up shots, lighting, settings and so on.

At the commencement of the poll, the Presiding Officer and four polling officials in each of these booths would come on the screen, introducing themselves. Every voter must stand before the web-camera, after casting vote, to spell out his or her name for future verification.

Later, Mr. Seetharaman told media persons that a total of 9,458 polling officials had been deputed to 1,995 polling stations. Electronic Voting Machines and polling materials had reached all polling stations.

He further said that cash worth Rs. 15.08 lakh was seized.

After clearance from the Income Tax Department, Rs. 9.57 lakh was returned to the owners.

Liquor bottles worth over Rs. 1.10 lakh and wristwatches valued at Rs. 8,500 were also seized.

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