Saturday, April 1

Authorities use drones to disperse crowd at New Town markets in Kolkata

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From Wednesday, people of New Town saw more than birds in the sky, as the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA) started drone surveillance to spot violations of social distancing norms in the markets within its purview.

“With the help of the drones we are ensuring social distancing and catching people violating the distancing norms. The NKDA task force is being alerted whenever we see people crowding through the drone footage and then the police intervene,” Hidco chairman Debashish Sen told TOI.

Sen said, “The drone has become an effective tool in decongesting the markets in New Town. The markets here are being managed through controlled entrances, hand washing and hand sanitisation at entry points, circular markings on floor and queue managers to enforce social distancing.”

In fact, the drones are also visiting other places in New Town, ensuring people comply with the most recent round of gathering rules. “As the pandemic spreads, authorities all over are harnessing the potential of drones,” said Sen.

He has put up on Facebook the video grab of the drone camera that looks over Shapoorji market in New Town. “As soon as the drone shows people gathering, the police and the NKDA volunteers chase them and have them distanced,” Sen said.

New Town residents welcomed the move. SK Sengupta, an IIT engineer and a resident of Action Area 1, said, “We keep hearing of people not adhering to social distancing norms. They can’t get away with the drone camera watching them over. Drone technology has become an important tool in ensuring that the public adhere to strict measures put in place. Surveillance drones have been used in China since the early weeks of the outbreak to enforce socia distancing. The trend has gone global as more countries started deploying drones fitted with loudspeakers to urge members of the public to remain in their homes.”

Fellow resident Ananya Basu echoed, “Drones, which were mostly limited to wedding photography or spraying pesticides over farms all these time, have turned out to be the eyes of the administration for lockdown monitoring.”

The blanket ban on drones which was lifted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation in 2018 has been used throughout the country for effectively spraying disinfectants, surveillance, crowd management, spreading awareness through public announcements and also geo-mapping to chalk out containment zones during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Source: Times of India

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