Railways scraps tender for thermal cameras after vendors say specifications may favour Chinese firm

The Railways has scrapped a tender for thermal cameras after receiving feedback from vendors that specifications mentioned for the procurement of the equipment may have favoured a Chinese company, sources said.

The tender for 800 such cameras was floated by Railway PSU RailTel last month for the AI-based surveillance cameras that measure body temperatures of individuals and even detect whether a person is wearing a mask or not.

A RailTel spokesperson confirmed that they had invited an Expression of Interest (EOI) application from amongst the empanelled business associates.

“We received representation from other vendors that they can also offer the solution. Hence, to have wider participation and competition, we have cancelled the EOI and are going in for open EOI,” the spokesperson said.

Sources, however, said the tender was scrapped after many Indian vendors in letters to RailTel raised concerns that the specifications mentioned in the tender favoured Chinese company Hikvision, one of the world’s largest video surveillance companies which currently dominates India’s CCTV market.

They said the technology — DeepInMind — which is part of the specification for the cameras and mentioned in the tender document, is a proprietary feature of Hikvision.

“Specifications issued are biased to Chinese OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) i.e. Hikvision, Specs clearly mentioned DeepinMind technology which is a proprietary feature of Hikvision NVRs,” one of the letters accessed by from an Indian vendor to RailTel said.

“RDSO 5.0 specs for IP camera & NVR (Network video recorder) are to be followed as per the RailTel EOI (included latest corrigendum) whereas body temperature screening solution is nowhere near to general CCTV cameras in terms of functionality, this clause seems to be made to deliver undue benefit to some Chinese OEMs (original equipment manufacturer) only,” the letter stated.

While the initial tender for these cameras issued on June 9 excluded a crucial specification called “black body” temperature — the ability of the cameras to accurately measure temperatures emitted by a person to say whether a person has fever or not — and the DeepInMind technology specification, they were included in the revised tender issued on June 23.

The specifications for the cameras include temperature screening with facial recognition and mask detection, simultaneous temperature screening for multiple persons, detecting whether people wear masks and timely giving alarms on people without masks, identity verification and stranger alarm.

“Special interface in DeepinMind NVR visually displaying all kinds of information, supporting voice broadcast upon mask and temperature status. Fast video search of target people such as people with abnormal temperature, without masks and so on. Exporting reports with ID skin- surface temperature and mask status,” the revised tender document stated.

Based on deep learning technology, Hikvision AcuSense NVRs are able to analyze and classify human and vehicle targets from video streams, as well as to enable efficient video searching by target type.


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