Webcasting to chatbot help: Goa polls set to go high-tech - Hindustan Times
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Webcasting to chatbot help: Goa polls set to go high-tech

ByDeeksha Bhardwaj, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Dec 27, 2021 04:01 AM IST

Two systems, designed by the state’s chief electoral officer (CEO) and IIT, are ready for deployment during polling -- VoterDost (Chat Bot system for Answering FAQs) and Election Eye, a computer vision based webcasting data analytics system.

From reducing the use of non-biodegradable items and replacing them with local biodegradable materials, to live-streaming polling to avoid crowding to curtail the spread of Covid-19, the assembly elections scheduled to be held in Goa next year are set for many firsts.

Bharatiya Janata Party supporters attend a public meeting of BJP national president JP Nadda in south Goa on December 22.(ANI)
Bharatiya Janata Party supporters attend a public meeting of BJP national president JP Nadda in south Goa on December 22.(ANI)

Two systems, designed by the state’s chief electoral officer (CEO) and IIT, are ready for deployment during polling -- VoterDost (Chat Bot system for Answering FAQs) and Election Eye, a computer vision based webcasting data analytics system.

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“Webcasting of all polling station is undertaken as an additional measure to monitor the polling process. The Election Eye system has been designed to capture real time information from webcasting feeds on computer vision technology.

“It will help in getting realtime alerts to the election authorities towards incidents such as crowding inside polling stations, if any, and also to get queue monitoring outside polling stations,” CEO Kunal said, adding, “This is the first time it is being used.”

Professor Sharad Sinha, who has worked on the project, said the Election Eye concept is a pilot project which will ensure web casting of ongoing polling. “We take video feeds that are not in public domain to analyse how many people are around the polling area to ensure there is no overcrowding,” he said.

“The system does not use make use of attentive manpower but AI-based models to recognise people, not who they are, but how many people,” Sinha said.

He added that real-time thresholds will ensure there is no crowding in polling stations. “The project is scalable is and can be implemented across the country,” he mentioned.

More than 1,000 polling stations are likely to be set up in the state but the project will focus on 100-200 camera feeds (every polling station will have two cameras — one outside and one in the booth).

The Election Commission had come under fire for failing to act against the rising number of Covid-19 cases in January this year and going ahead with the Assembly election in West Bengal during the second wave.

VoterDost, on the other hand, is a Telegram-based Chatbot system that will serve as a one-stop contact point for handling common queries of voters in availing various electoral services and answering queries with automated responses on various topics of election management like Model Code of Conduct, location of polling station based on EPIC, EVM-VVPAT features etc.

Additionally, the Green Election initiative, also started by the CEO’s office, aims to reduce the usage of non-biodegradable items and replace those with local biodegradable materials.

“Specially designed trays, baskets, pen/pin stands, selfie boards, polling station decoration materials have been put into the procurement process in coordination with Goa Handicrafts Corporation, Sanjay School for Special Education, Goa State Biodiversity Board. These items were made by local artisans showcasing the traditional craftmanship using bamboo materials, coconut sheel made items,” Kunal said.

EC has also launched an e-learning certificate course on Democracy and Electoral Management meant for presiding and polling officers. The course has been designed by department of political science in Goa University and the CEO office.

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