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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Techie puts fancy number plates back under lens

Posts Pictures Of Violators On FB, Traffic Police To Send Notices To 55

A software developer has pushed the traffic police to crack down on motorists using fancy fonts on number plates by posting photographs of the violators on a social media group.

Sandeep Ohri (48) decided to form a Facebook group and seek help from other alert citizens after noticing that the Mumbai traffic police's official page has been inoperative for years.

Traffic police chief B K Up dhyaya confirmed that his personnel would start sending challans by post to the homes of 55 offenders this weekend.
"We have access to the RTO's database of privately-owned vehicles in Mumbai registered post-2006. The photographs are proof enough of the violation committed by the motorists.
After receiving the challan if a motorist fails to pay up, we will send a chargesheet to court, which, in turn, will issue them summons," said Upadhyaya.

Not using standardized fonts on number plates poses a security issue, said officials. In case of a fatal accident, witnesses find it difficult to identify or recollect the digits of vehicles using such number plates.

"We have started installing cameras equipped with automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) on certain stretches in Mumbai, such as the Eastern Freeway . ANPR captures number plates and uses optical character recognition to read them, without any manual intervention. But the system will face problems reading fonts that are not standardized," said a traffic police officer.

Ohri's Facebook group, which was started last month, already has around 900 members. "Clear photographs of vehicles found flouting the rule, along with the location where they were spotted, can be up loaded on the group. Every two or three weeks, I prepare a slideshow of the photographs with details on the make of the vehicle. Initially, I had sent a compilation of 32 such photographs to the traffic cops, but there was no response. This time, I sent 55 new photographs," Ohri said.

"What really upsets me is the blatant abuse of power by politicians, most of whom use fonts in regional languages on their vehicles' number plates. I used to spot such vehicles blocking the entrance to nursing homes in my residential locality . They were never towed away . When I took up the matter with the traffic police under the RTI, they spoke of public participation. That's when I decided to form a social media group," he added.


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