Wearable tech has found a key use — to make Indian Railways safer.
To ensure those responsible for the upkeep of tracks are doing their duty, railway authorities have come up with a wearable GPS device, resembling a fitness band, for track maintainers, earlier known as gangmen.
The track maintainers have to keep the device on during duty hours and their movement can be traced through a mobile application IR-PMS (Indian Railway Patrolling Monitoring System). The move is also aimed at preventing seniors from asking track staff to do odd jobs.
“This has been done to ensure that the gangmen are doing their job and also it will help them in sending alerts in case they find a problem with the track,” a railway spokesperson said on Tuesday.
Indian Railways, the world’s fourth-largest rail network, which carries 23 million people daily, has seen a lot of wear and tear over the years, as the bulk of the network was laid during the British time.
The government has turned to tech and innovation to expand the network and also to make it safe.
The app will allow senior officials to monitor the location and speed of the person carrying the GPS device. In case of an emergency, a trackman can send a text message or make a call that goes directly to officials concerned with track safety and the control room.
Around 600 track staffs of the Bhopal division of the Western Railways are already using the GPS device and there are plans to take it to the country’s remaining divisions, a rail ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
“The execution will start by the end of this year and depending on the response, more employees — keymen, patrolmen, ticket checkers, etc — will be given GPS bands,” the official said.
The app also allows direct communication with the person wearing the device through registered mobile numbers, another ministry official said, requesting not to be identified.
“A report containing all relevant information is generated and saved for further analysis. For instance, if during inspection, some deficiency is found, the next person on patrolling can check whether it has been rectified. The history of the inspection will be useful for repair,” the official said.
The trial run, on since January, has been good. Based on feedback, new features are being added to the app.
There are about 200,000 gangmen, many of whom also man gates at rail crossings besides patrolling tracks.