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Tech-guarding the Country

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DQI Bureau
New Update

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has the distinction of

being the first IT-enabled paramilitary force of the country. CRPF has traveled

a long way in its arduous journey towards being IT-enabled. The Electronic Data

Processing (EDP) Cell was set up in the Force in as early as 1972. In the early

years, computers were used mainly for the preparation of pay rolls at the

Directorate of Coordination on Police Computers (DCPC). Those were the early

days of computers, and data was fed through punched cards. Later on, Unix-based

systems and PCs were procured. The communication wing of CRPF handled wireless

communication in the Force. With technologies converging, today the signal wing

in the CRPF handles both EDP/IT and communication. An officer of the rank

additional DIG heads the EDP/IT unit.

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CRPF, initially, set up as a one-battalion Crown Representatives

Police, CRPF today is a mammoth 201-battalion strong Force, and employs close to

260,000 officers, men and women. Divided into sectors, and sectors into ranges,

the force has units all across the country. There are special units such as the

Rapid Action Force, women battalions, disaster management battalions, and signal

battalions. It is the main force for law and order duties, internal security,

and counter insurgency operations. By the very nature of its duty, the Force is

highly mobile and scattered. It is often deployed at a very short noticesometimes

on just an hours notice. Most battalions, company and platoons do not have

static location. An ERP solution is a dire necessity to manage such a mammoth

Force deployed on multifarious duties. Moreover, insurgent groups are

increasingly IT-savvy now, and use sophisticated equipments. CRPF has to equip

itself with the latest IT solutions to meet challenges effectively.

The SELO Initiative



The present IT initiative of CRPF is called Project SELO, and is a feather
in the cap of the IT initiatives of the Ministry of Home Affairs. SELO is the

acronym of "Service and Loyalty," the motto of the Force. The

five-year computerization plan was conceived in 1997. It is a customized ERP

solution, and covers all functions of the Force, viz, operations, personnel,

inventory, budget, and finance. The application is well integrated with

messaging and workflow. Various units of the Force have been connected for data

and voice through WAN and LAN. The entire command structure of the Force has

been covered.

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Project Leadership



The bureaucratic system functions with objections, delays, eliminations, and
frequent transfers. Regulatory functionaries within the bureaucracy treat IT

projects also with characteristic indifferences and delayed decisions. However,

IT projects need constant nurturing, technological foresights, timely actions,

and sagacious leadership to lead through uncertainties, change, and

obsolescence. The high rate of failure of IT projects, obsolescence of

technology, and absence of precedence in this emerging field increases the

importance of the leadership. Brigadier JS Sawhney provided the leadership and

continuity to Project SELO. He led project since its inception till he left the

CRPF in 2003. Even after, he nurtured the project in advisory capacity up to the

rollout in 2005.

Notwithstanding the fact that the project was in a paramilitary

force, and was led by an army officer, the project was not implemented by

thrusting it down on the unwilling personnel. Indeed, everybody from the lowest

dealing assistant to the director general was approached for the requirement

analysis. This ensured widespread and ready acceptability of the project

throughout the organization.

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Technology

The technologies used in

Project SELO are as given in the following table

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Item

Technology

LAN

Complete structured cabling using

Krone components

WAN

Frame relay technology using Nortel

equipments

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Operating System

MS Windows 2000/XP

Messaging

Lotus Domino

Database

Oracle

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Enterprise Management

CA Unicentre TNG

Network Management

Nortel NMS on SUN Solaris

System

Servers and desktops from HP

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Storage

MSA 1000 from HP

Security

Antivirus, firewall, intrusion

detection from CA, finger print ID system from Compaq

Application

SELO developed by NIIT

The integrated application software

has been prepared by NIIT. The major modules of the software are: (i)

Finance, (ii) Personnel, (iii) Inventory, (iv) Operations, (v) Mail

messaging, (vi) Document management system, and (vii) Workflow. Each

module has several sub-modules. The salient features of the integrated

application software are:

  • It covers all

    functionalities at levels in the hierarchy, down to field units

  • The software is

    developed in a Web-based environment

  • Mail and messaging

    system is provided with Lotus Notes

  • Decision support system

    is integrated into the software

  • The software is

    menu-based and user-friendly



The Project



The total project cost of Phase-I was Rs 390.7 mn. It was implemented in
four stages Stage 1 to Stage 4, and in eighty-four offices located in

fifty-one physical locations. It was also implemented at Force headquarters,

sector headquarters, range headquarters and group centers. An extension of

Phase-I was sanctioned to cover thirty newly created offices, and the net

sanctioned amount was Rs 102.4 mn. The extension of Phase-I is being implemented

as Stage 5. In Phase-II of the project, battalions and remaining mobile units

will be covered.

One reason for the failure of many IT projects is lack of

emphasis on training and software. However, Project SELO was implemented with an

appropriate mix of training, software and hardware. NIIT has imparted three

levels of training to CRPF personnel on basic operation, application software,

LAN/WAN, and database administration. Besides, CRPF has a Central Training

College (Telecommunication and IT) located at Ranchi. The college conducts

regular training for CRPF personnel on IT and communication.

With the implementation of Project SELO, the workload of the EDP/IT

unit of CRPF has increased manifold. EDP/IT unit requires personnel with

technical aptitude. Restructuring of personnel deployment has not been able to

keep pace with the increased requirement of technical manpower in the EDP/IT

unit. The EDP/IT wing is now being managed with the help of personnel from other

wings.

Security



A high level of security is being maintained over the network to avoid login
into the system by intruder/hacker or any unauthorized person through

state-of-the-art firewall, intrusion detection and prevention system, anti-virus

and fingerprint system. However, enterprise management system by Computer

Associate has also been implemented for monitoring and auditing the network

performance and management of network.

Road Ahead



Some static units, all battalions and lower formations of the Force are yet
to be covered. These will be covered in subsequent phases of Project SELO.

An IT solution is not a one-off solution. It requires continuous

change and upgradation to keep pace with the changing requirements, and changes

in technology. After the contract period with NIIT, an arrangement will have to

be made for co-sourcing maintenance and upgradation of the system to private

vendors.

The success of SELO is being replicated in other paramilitary

forces. Gaining from the experience of Project SELO, Border Security Force (BSF)

is preparing an IT solution called Project Prahari. Other Forces are also trying

to emulate the success of Project SELO.

Barun Kumar Saha



maildqindia@cybermedia.co.in




The author is an IAS officer of 1992 batch and has a BTech (Hons) degree in
computer science and engineering from IIT-Kharagpur.



Barun K Saha has also written four books

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