A colour-coded e-pass system using a mobile phone has been developed by a technology solutions company in Kolkata for ensuring that a maximum of 400 passengers board a Metro Railway train in the city to maintain COVID-19 health safety protocol after it resumes service.
Sanjay Chatterjee, network and security solutions head of Ideation Technology, which was asked by the Metro authorities to develop the system, said that a bot-based (web robot) technology will be used to generate e-passes that will be colour-coded to ensure that only authorised passengers enter the stations at a given time in order to maintain the maximum passenger count.
“The main challenge was to come up with a solution which can be easily used by people – those who have smartphones and also those who have analogue phones; without installing any app,” he told PTI.
“So we came up with a simple technology, we have developed a system similar to that of Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger, wherein one can start it by just clicking open a link,” Mr Chatterjee said.
He said that a bot is being used for the purpose wherein it will ask the intending passenger his or her name, the boarding station, destination and the preferred time slot.
A passenger will be given a total of five questions, including one on language option, which he has to answer using the link in the mobile phone.
Mr Chatterjee said that the passengers will have three language options – Bengali, Hindi and English.
“The Metro authorities have told us that a maximum of 400 passengers can be carried in a train at any point of time, based on that either the chosen time slot will be given and if the number of passengers has already reached the threshold, a different time slot will be asked for from the intending passenger,” he said, adding that the process will not take more than 10 to 12 seconds.
Mr Chatterjee said that on the basis of availability, QR code will be generated immediately and e-pass will be given online to the user.
He said that the e-passes will be colour coded based on the hourly time slots.
“The colour code will help easy validation by security personnel of the e-passes as per the time slots and thus avoid queues at the entry points at stations,” Mr Chatterjee said.
He said that for example, if yellow colour code is being used for a particular hour slot, a passenger with a different colour-coded e-pass will not be allowed to enter a station at the time.
The West Bengal government last week proposed developing a system to issue e-passes to commuters for entering Metro Railway stations during a meeting between senior Metro and state officials to ensure maintenance of social distancing norms.
Senior officials of the Metro Railway and the state government met for the second time on Friday last to discuss the modalities regarding maintaining social distancing norms and crowd management, according to a Metro spokesperson.
The developer of the system for issuing e-passes explained it to the committee during the meeting, the spokesperson said.
Metro Railway general manager Manoj Joshi has said that the final date for resumption of the city’s rapid transit system will be fixed shortly.
The Union Home Ministry has issued Unlock 4 guidelines under which Metro railway services in cities will be allowed to resume from September 7 in a graded manner.
The West Bengal government had written to the Railway Board seeking resumption of Metro and suburban train services in a limited manner maintaining the norms of physical distancing and health and hygiene protocols.