As Ayodhya prepares for the Pran Pratishtha ceremony at the Ram temple on January 22, the Uttar Pradesh government is implementing stringent security measures, including the use of AI surveillance. The government aims to ensure law and order during the event, and for the first time, AI technology will be employed to identify suspicious activities and track down potential miscreants in the city.
Staqu Technologies, a Gurgaon-based tech startup, is at the forefront of this initiative, providing AI-powered security systems for Ayodhya. Atul Rai, co-founder and CEO of Staqu Technologies, highlighted the focus on high-level AI surveillance specifically targeting individuals with serious criminal records, including those involved in terrorism and murder.
In an interview with Mint, Rai explained, “There will be a high level of AI surveillance in Ayodhya for people with serious criminal records, including terrorism, murder, etc. For this, we’ve integrated the CCTV cameras, already installed in various parts of the city for purposes like traffic and community management, for efficient artificial intelligence-based city surveillance.”
The CCTV cameras will cover key locations across the city, including Kanak Bhawan, Hanuman Garhi, Shri Nageshwar Nath Mandir, Ram Ki Paidi, and Ram Janmabhoomi. Staqu Technologies is leveraging its audio and video analytics software, Jarvis, to facilitate AI-based surveillance.
The AI software will utilize facial recognition and reverse facial recognition to identify suspicious individuals and activities. Reverse facial recognition enables law enforcement to search for a specific person across the city using a photograph. Additionally, the software allows searches based on attributes entered in text form, enhancing the capabilities of the surveillance system.
Prashant Kumar, Director General, Law and Order, stated that a pilot project of vigilance through artificial intelligence has been launched for security in Ayodhya. The AI-based CCTV surveillance system is expected to detect patterns such as frequent visitors or common trends among groups of people visiting the temple premises.
Staqu’s Trinetra software, which digitizes criminal records, provides these AI-integrated cameras access to a database of 800,000 individuals with criminal backgrounds. However, the use of AI in surveillance raises privacy concerns, and experts emphasize the need for clear laws and guidelines to protect individuals’ rights.
N. S. Nappinai, an advocate and founder of Cyber Saathi, highlighted the global norms where jurisdictions have clear laws protecting privacy while using CCTV cameras in public spaces. She emphasized the urgent need for India to address this legal gap and establish regulations concerning the use of technology for surveillance.
Concerns were also raised regarding transparency in data collection and access by private entities involved in such projects. Nappinai stressed the importance of guidelines or laws to ensure that technology is not abused and that individual rights to data protection are safeguarded.
Staqu is currently implementing the pilot project in Ayodhya in collaboration with the UP Special Task Force (STF). The project utilizes the existing network of 10,000-20,000 CCTV cameras in the city, including those inside the temple, Ram Janmabhoomi, and other areas. While operational challenges were faced, the collaboration with the police and government facilitated the successful execution of the project amidst the ongoing preparations for the Ram temple ceremony.