The next is the post accident part. If there is an accident how does an onlooker react to it? There will be a single telephone number to which witnesses can call to report an accident. The request for bids (RFB) have already been issued for setting up a call centre for such an accident reporting facility. This would be a simple call center, people would just need to call this number. When a person calls this number, the location, date, time, caller id and location of the caller are captured. The instructions for the call would be multi-lingual, with the languages depending on the location of the caller. If the call originates from Delhi, the languages would be Hindi, English and Punjabi while for a call from Tamil Nadu the languages would be Tamil, English and Hindi. The dispatcher, the person who answers the call at the call center, will coordinate the nearest ambulance, the nearest crane and the nearest police station.
An important consideration in case of accident is that relatives of the victim should also get the information about the accident. One of the technologies that is been used for this is M-Toll which allows motorists to pay toll by mobile phone. Registered users can register the
people who should get information in case of an accident. M-toll users can also be informed once they cross a toll plaza that an accident has happened ahead and the stretch has to be avoided. Thus, just by the licence plate number being told to the dispatcher, the relatives or near ones will be informed without the dispatcher knowing who has been informed about the accident because that would be a privacy consideration. Information about the time, date & location of the accident is given, as also the contact details of the person who reported the accident.
The technology that has been used is heavily driven by the existing mobile network, so again there is no need for users to invest in onboard or user dedicated devices. Most road users have cell phones and most roads have mobile connectivity, so these aspects are leveraged. Even if a user is in the roaming area or in an area with no cell phone network coverage, there are technologies like fire-chat which allows users to communicate by bouncing signals off other mobile devices. This was used in the recent standoff in Hong Kong between the students and the government. So the government switched off all the cellular networks and the internet, but the people were able to talk using this technology because essentially the cell phone device has a certain amount of range and it can communicate. The government realizes that for a large number of people to adopt and buy a smart card or similar devices is very difficult. But everybody has a cell phone and it is much easier to use the existing ICT. Now the government is also envisaging that this call center or these interventions need to be done over a period of time. The government welcomes participation from the industry, end users and all other stakeholders.
Pankaj Som Chaturvedi
Expert (Asian Development Bank)
Assignment with Dept. of Economic Affairs
Ministry of Finance, Government of India