SABARIMALA PILGRIM MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (SPMS)
Sabarimala is the most visited pilgrim centre in Kerala with the number of devotees thronging the hill top temple increasing every year. Kerala Police facilitates crowd management of pilgrims visiting Sabarimala during pilgrimage season which extends from November to January annually.
SABARIMALA PILGRIM MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
An ambitious digital initiative, “The Sabarimala Pilgrim Management System” (SPMS) was flagged off in the year 2019, to streamline and facilitate the ever increasing crowd of pilgrims at Sabarimala.
a. Virtual Queue System (2011- 2018)
To regulate and streamline the queue of devotees at Sabarimala, Kerala Police had designed and developed a software named “Sabarimala Virtual Q-System” during 2011-12 festival season .
The Portal (www.sabarimalaq.com) enabled the pilgrims to reserve their place in the Virtual Queue for Sabarimala pilgrimage at a specified hour on any day; on a “First Come, First Serve” basis. The pilgrims could select the date and time of joining the queue, by accessing the Web Portal, subject to availability. Ever since its inception, Virtual Queue gained popularity among the devotees who now had a way to Darshan without standing in regular queue for hours.
b. Sabarimala Pilgrim Management System (SPMS)
During a review meeting on Sabarimala on 5/9/2019, Honourable Chief Minister mooted the idea of a single digital platform for Sabarimala related services, which will include Virtual Queue services of Police Department, services of Travancore Devaswom Board and transport services by KSRTC. The platform will facilitate pilgrims, by doing away with the need to visit different webpages to avail online services. It was also decided to implement a system to digitize all the pilgrims visiting the shrine and regulate the number of devotees given access to Sannidhanam per hour to prevent overcrowding, and avoid tortuous queues at Sannidhanam.
Accordingly the service of TCS Hyderabad was roped in to develop customized software for Sabarimala to be named as Sabarimala Pilgrim Management System (SPMS). Technical team from Information and Communication Technology (ICT) wing of Kerala Police was formed to extend operational support and domain knowledge to TCS. Similarly Nodal Officers and teams were formed by Devaswom and KSRTC to impart domain knowledge to TCS. Accordingly domain name www.sabarimalaonline.org was registered and the portal was inaugurated by Honarable Chief Minister on 28 October 2019.
1. Queue services.
The online portal was made available to citizens on October 28, 2019. Virtual Queue is a limited subscription, first come first serve basis service, wherein a devotee has a quicker access to Sannidhanam. 16.5 lakh Virtual Queue tickets spread over 15 time slots per day for 54 days were made available for online booking. In order to avail these services, the devotees have to register themselves in the online portal by furnishing personal information which include their name age, address, contact no, photograph, details of photo identy cards etc. After successful completion of booking, an automated SMS is generated and sent to the person who makes the registration. The devotees are then mandated to download and print their barcoded e-tickets mentioning the date and time slot allotted for Ayyappa darshan. On embarking on the pilgrimage, devotees are to carry the e-tickets and photo identy cards used for registration. Options for group booking are also provided in the portal. The Virtual Queue services are complementary and provided free of cost for the devotees. The e-ticket and registered photo identy cards are to be produced at verification counters at Pampa from where Entry Cards are issued.
2. Facilitation centers
For devotees who could not book in advance, facilitation centers were functioning at places like Erumeli, Kumuli, Pathanamthitta bus stand and Vadasserikkara. 51,415 pilgrims have utilized this facility during 2019-2020 festival season.
3. Travancore Devaswom Board services.
Some of the services of by Travancore Devaswom Board were operational in SPMS in the current festival season. The services viz., booking for Aravana and Appam, booking for the, Manjal , Kumkum and Vibhuthi were available online in the SPMS portal.
4. KSRTC services.
Online booking of long distance KSRTC buses was facilitated by providing relevant link in Sabarimala portal. However for efficiency and effectiveness, KSRTC online booking service should be integrated into the portal ensuring that a single log-in, is sufficient for accessing all Sabarimala related services.
ACHIEVEMENTS /OUTCOME OF THE PROJECT
1. Pilgrims were able to determine their preference for darshan and accordingly obtain a slot for darshan.
2. Uncertainty for pilgrims for darshan at Sabarimala removed and they could avoid long queues.
3. Able to streamline the crowd at Sabarimala using this preferential system. Around 25% crowd is evenly distributed in Virtual Queue, thus reducing the average waiting time of pilgrims through the traditional path of Sarakuthy.
4. Multiple services in a single digital platform.
5. Database having details of 14,95,718 pilgrims, which can be used for analytical purposes. In future using Artificial Intelligence (AI) ; property offenders, extremist elements may be identified and culled out for the safety and security of general practice.
6. Helps in investigation/evidence collection in case of any unfrowned incidents
7. Alternate statistics available for analytics and aids improvement of service delivery.
Status in a Glance
Total Booking 14,95,718
Total Arrival 8,32,391
Percentage of Visit 55.66%
VQ Entry cards via Pilgrim Facilitation Centers 51,415
From the statistics, it seems that only 55.66% of the total booking has been materialized. The following factors may be considered in this regard.
Strict compliance of the allotted time was followed. Hence pilgrims who approached verification counters 4 hours prior/late than the allocated time were not provided with VQ Entry cards and proceeded through traditional route.
In the initial days, because of BSNL connectivity issues, we were forced to switch over to manual verification of online coupons, the figures of which are not reflected in the above statistics.