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RailTel Issues Fresh Tender for Thermal Cameras after Row Over Specs favouring Chinese Firm

RailTel has issued a fresh tender for thermal cameras meant for ‘Covid surveillance’ changing the specifications that favoured Chinese Company. It has also made it mandatory for firms to list the Country of Origin of the equipment.

Railways scrapped the tender for thermal cameras meant for ‘Covid surveillance’ after Indian firms alleged that artificial intelligence technology – DeepInMind – which is specified in the tender is a proprietary feature of Chinese firm Hikvision, a company partly owned by the Chinese government.

In a letter written to RailTel, one of the vendors had said the pre-qualification criteria laid down for the OEM and bidder mentioned “Special interface in DeepinMind Network Video Recorder (NVR)”, in the tender for temperature screening with facial recognition and mask detection.

According to Hikvision’s technology, Network Video Recorder (NVR) has a “mind” of its own and can analyse and classify human and vehicle targets from video streams.

The fresh tender issued on Monday has removed this technical specification as a requirement and has asked vendors to name the country manufacturing the equipment that they supply.

“Bidder shall mention country of manufacturing against each item in SOR (schedule of requirement). In case country of manufacturing is not mentioned by the bidder, RailTel Reserves the right to reject his offer. Moreover, GoI’s Present as well as Future Guideline regarding foreign country material will be applicable,” the new tender document said.

The PSU has retained one significant specification of the blackbody temperature — the ability of the cameras to accurately measure temperatures emitted by a person to say whether a person has fever or not.

It has also listed features of the cameras to include software with simultaneous temperature screening for multiple persons with alarm (indoor), contact-free mask detection, alarms on people without masks, identity verification and stranger alarm, that is confirming identity, even with a mask.