Adopting digital technologies

Police are using drones to monitor quarantined areas in KP

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for upgrading digital communication technologies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The government is using technology to minimise the risk of a coronavirus infection by replacing a physical setting with a virtual environment in many departments, including education, police and administration.

Talking to The News on Sunday, CM’s Advisor on Science and Information Technology Ziaullah Bangash said that they had set up videoconferencing arrangements in various government circles for the officers to meet online instead of physical presence with the aim of containing the coronavirus spread.

“Because people are sitting at homes amid the ongoing coronavirus lockdown, the government has also been thinking of engaging the citizens in online activities that can also enable them to earn their livelihood,” he added.

The provincial government recently launched a project called Zero to Hero in KP, under which citizens are provided trainings to launch their YouTube channels. “Our eight Durshal centres in various districts of the province provide training on video making and its posting on YouTube. We know that most youngsters already use the internet, but our aim is to enable them to use it for their economic benefit so that they start earning from it as well; all they need is a mobile phone or a laptop and a YouTube channel where they start earning upon getting 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours watch time,” he added.

He also said that while Facebook has not started monetization for Pakistan, they were planning to approach the company to start local monetization.

“The chief minister and other ministers also prefer videoconferencing. We are also working with the police force on digital FIRs, which have been initiated in some districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.”

Higher Education Secretary Hasan Mehmood Yousafzai says that Higher Education Commission has issued detailed guidelines to public sector universities to prepare for online teaching.

He says that universities have been asked to train staff and report to the HEC by May 31.

“For online teaching, the HEC is also considering the issues like internet connectivity in various districts, teachers’ preparedness, students’ preparedness and online content,” says a KP official.

“During the coronavirus lockdown, authorities focused on automation to help with routine activities. At HEC, we also have set up an e-office, which is a paperless way of doing office tasks via an internet server. With certain modifications, it can also be used by the staff to work from home,” the official adds.

Also, he says, the HEC is working on certain interactive platforms for communication with universities on various issues.

“For online teaching, the HEC is also considering issues like internet connectivity in various districts, teachers’ preparedness, students’ preparedness and online content,” he says.

The KP Police Department has also put in place arrangements for virtual meetings instead of the physical meetings in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

Capital City Police Officer Muhammad Ali Gandapur told The News on Sunday that the law-enforcement machinery has started holding meetings through videoconferencing and added that there have been frequent videoconferences of the KP police chief with regional police officers and district police officers in the ongoing lockdown situation of Covid-19.

“Also, our mobile vans have cameras that monitor the lockdown situation in various areas nowadays while our police access services and Peshawar Police’s android app is also receiving tremendous response from public,” says Ali Gandapur.

He says that in the ongoing corona emergency, the KP Police have frequently used drone technology to monitor the lockdown situation in various areas of the province.

Meanwhile, Sajjad Khan, who heads the police force in Mardan district, says that they also monitor the lockdown compliance situation via a drone. “Besides markets, we also used drones in the recent operation in Katlang mountains and it helped us much,” Sajjad Khan says.

“The Mardan police recently arranged a training on Covid-19 for their field officers with the assistance of an NGO to better manage the ongoing corona emergency in the district,” he says.

Universities in KP have also started working on online teaching as the corona lockdown has been extended and the campuses remain closed.

Talking to The News on Sunday, University of Malakand Vice-Chancellor Dr Gul Zaman said they had already started online classes. “Unlike down districts, summer vacations in Malakand region are for one month only, this is why we have to start the online lectures so that the next semester is not wasted,” he added.

Abdul Wali Khan University-Mardan (AWKUM) has also set up a Learning Management System (LMS) for online teaching and exams, university’s Director Admissions Dr Attiq Ur Rahman says.

“The university faculty has already submitted online lectures in the form of Powerpoint slides and videos. The online classes will begin from June 1 through the LMS,” he adds.

University of Peshawar Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Muhammad Asif Khan also said they were training their faculty and their online classes will start from June.

The writer is a freelance journalist and PhD research scholar. He can be reached at: [email protected]

Adopting digital technologies