New Delhi: Amid ongoing controversies over alleged irregularities in NEET and NET exams, the Union Public Service Commission or UPSC has opted to enhance exam security using facial recognition and AI-based CCTV surveillance systems, as reported by news agency PTI. Recently, it issued a tender seeking bids from experienced public sector entities to implement two technological solutions: “Aadhaar-based fingerprint authentication or digital fingerprint capturing, and facial recognition for candidates, along with QR code scanning of e-admit cards,” and “Live AI-based CCTV surveillance services” during examinations.

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), a constitutional authority, administers 14 major exams annually, including the prestigious civil services examination for roles like IAS, IFS, and IPS officers. Additionally, it conducts numerous recruitment tests and interviews for Group ‘A’ and ‘B’ posts within the central government. These examinations are anticipated to attract around 26 lakh candidates, conducted across a network of up to 80 centers spanning cities such as Leh, Kargil, Srinagar, Imphal, Agartala, Aizawl, and Gangtok.

“The UPSC attaches great importance to the conduct of its examinations in a free, fair and impartial manner. In its endeavor to fulfill these objectives, the Commission intends to make use of the latest digital technology to match and cross-check the biometric details of the candidates and to monitor various activities of the candidates during the examination to prevent cheating, fraud, unfair means and impersonation,” read the tender document dated June 3, 2024.

The Commission aims to integrate Aadhaar-based fingerprint authentication (or digital fingerprint capturing), facial recognition of candidates, QR code scanning of e-admit cards, and live AI-based CCTV video surveillance to enhance the examination process.

This initiative is intended to bolster security measures and prevent candidate malpractices effectively. The service provider selected will utilize UPSC-provided data for Aadhaar-based fingerprint authentication and facial recognition as outlined in the tender document’s scope of work.

“Provision should be made for a real-time attendance monitoring system through secured web server. System should have provision for real time monitoring of the enrolment activity along with GPS coordinates against every enrolment and time stamp to ensure that enrolment is done during the stipulated shift,” it said.

The Commission emphasized that facial recognition should be conducted as a fully stateless transaction involving two images: one submitted during online registration and the other taken on the day of the exam.

In response, the UPSC announced plans to implement comprehensive CCTV/video surveillance systems. These systems will monitor all activities of candidates and personnel involved in conducting examinations at various centers nationwide, ensuring a secure environment.

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According to the UPSC, the service provider will install a sufficient number of CCTV color cameras in each examination venue. Specifically, a minimum of one CCTV camera will be installed per room, regardless of the number of candidates present. Additional cameras will be installed at a ratio of one camera for every 24 candidates in larger exam halls, ensuring comprehensive coverage without blind spots.

The AI-powered video surveillance system is expected to generate alerts for various scenarios, including unauthorized movement at entry/exit points during the exam, improper arrangement of furniture in classrooms, offline or tampered cameras, movement detected outside designated times, and inactive behavior of invigilators beyond specified periods.

The system will be designed to raise immediate red flags for potential cheating, use of unfair means, or absence of invigilator supervision.

The bid submission deadline for this project is July 7 at 1 pm, with bids being opened on the same day at 1:30 pm.

This initiative by the UPSC gains significance amidst ongoing scrutiny of alleged irregularities in the UGC-NET and NEET-UG examinations conducted by the National Testing Agency, with investigations by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) currently underway.

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