The Hindu has carried two news reports today. In the first, a young machine operator’s life was tragically cut short when the boom of the jaw cutting machine fell on him when he was trying to check an oil leak that had sprung up in the vehicle.
In the other, it ran an investigative report on how contractors entrusted with the clearing of garbage in the city are scamming the system. The contractors are paid by the weight of the garbage collected. Each of their collection trucks have a specific route to follow and they are supposed to collect from each and every collection points along the route.
However, that is not what they do. They collect mostly construction debris, which is not their remit, and cover this up with the municipal waste to avoid detection. We all understand that construction debris is many times the weight of garbage. Thus, without further collection of waste they are able to make their numbers in less than half an hour!
Could technology have helped in these two cases?
In the case of the young man’s tragedy there was a reasonable chance that his life could have been saved through technology and some proactive maintenance activity. There are telematics devices which can diagnose conditions of vehicular systems and raise alarms much before failure occurs. Although, it is not clear what oil was leaking and from where, such diagnostic systems can be designed to predict problems and take preventive actions.
In the interesting case of the ‘garbage’ scam it is possible to use technology to raise alarm to remote stations and even to the supervisor’s mobile when the load on the truck exceeds a reasonable value in a single collection and also cumulatively. One can also track the number of times a collection was made and from where. If the garbage collection points are well mapped in the system, it can even tell if a point was missed out in a collection run.
Do these technologies cost money? Yes, they do. To buy and to run them and to maintain them in top condition so that they don’t fail. After all, they are there to detect other failures!
Does it make sense to spend money on these technologies? It positively does. The cost is nowhere near the cost of the life lost or the amount of swindling that you are being subjected to.
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