EC to webcast polls in 1,500 Bengal booths

BUT THE LIVE VIDEO WILL NOT BE VISIBLE TO NETIZENS
By bappaditya paul
The Election Commission (EC) has decided to webcast the voting process in 1,500 critical polling booths in West Bengal but the live video will not be visible to netizens.Webcast at a polling booth in Mangalore SouthInstead, the proposed webcast is meant for senior election officials up to the level of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), enabling them make necessary interventions during the polling if anything goes awry.

West Bengal is voting for the 42 Lok Sabha seats in five phases beginning 17 April and the webcast in 1,500 booths will cover all of them. The total number of polling booths in Bengal is 77,241.

According to EC sources, the webcast will be carried out with equipment and manpower hired from some private ITeS company and the live video from the polling booths will be visible on the Chief Electoral Officer’s (CEO) Portal by using a password.   Webcast graphicsA private firm selected for the purpose will use webcam-equipped laptop or tablet to capture the video inside a polling booth and stream it live to the CEO’s Portal using its own Video Streaming Server.

The multi-frame video will be simultaneously visible to 500 users; at the end of voting the firm will transfer the recorded video to district election officer and also submit a copy of the same to the CEO office in Kolkata on a hard-drive.

The West Bengal CEO floated a Notice Inviting Tender (NIT) asking quotations from private entities for the job on 6 March and is now in the process of finalising a firm from among the eligible bidders. ITeS firms having an annual turnover of Rs 1-crore for two consecutive fiscal years were allowed to bid along with an earnest money deposit of Rs 50,000. Webcast at West Bengal CEO office in 2011“The 1,500 booths where from the webcast is to be conducted will be identified from among the total number of critical booths that we have in the state. The district election officers have been asked to identify such critical booths that have regular power supply and better Internet coverage so that the webcast can be carried out unhindered,” said Mr Jaydip Mukherjee, the West Bengal joint CEO. “In one polling phase there will be at the most 500 polling booths that will be covered by the webcast.”

During the 2011 West Bengal Assembly poll, the EC had undertaken a similar webcasting exercise but on a much smaller scale.

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This news first appeared in The Statesman on 20 March 2014.)

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