Increased use of narcotics among youngsters has been a headache for the administrative machinery in Kerala, and this situation has prompted the government to launch various measures in a bid to combat the menace.
Among the many initiatives is a measure to usher in the aid of modern-day information technology in combating the issue. Kerala’s efforts to provide innovative technology solutions against alarming use of narcotics among youngsters turned a new leaf at a national-level meet recently when five higher-education institutions came up with a secure prize-winning proposal backed by artificial intelligence to check the social menace.
The students with Amal Jyothi College of Engineering at Kanjirappally in Kottayam district won Rs 50,000 at the Antidrug Hackathon, topping the list of presenters at the two-day even organized by the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) in association with Central University of Kerala (CUK), Kasaragod District Panchayat and the state’s Excise Department. KSUM is the nodal agency of the Kerala government for entrepreneurship development and incubation activities in the state.
Innovative ideas presented
The CUK event in Kasaragod saw anti-narcotic model presentations by 20 teams shortlisted from around 100 applicants of five states of the country. The presentations, which were made before a panel of experts, was based on recent CUK study on drug consumption among boys and girls. The survey by the varsity’s Public Administration Department analysed 1,000 students (of 15 schools) besides 500 teachers and as many parents in Kasaragod district, locating how newer forms of narcotics reached the victims. The winners were announced by CUK Vice-Chancellor Dr H. Venkateshwarlu.
The Kasaragod District Panchayat will work on blending the ideas of the five winners at the Hackathon into a single IT program with technical support from KSUM and CUK. The other winners at the event are Jyothi Engineering College, Cheruthuruthy (for its machine learning-based software that locates narcotics supply and use), Digital University Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram (for ‘Mukti’ software that denies access to the personal details of those reporting drug-use and checking the authenticity of such inputs), Christ Engineering College, Irinjalakuda (for enabling any common person to easily report of instances of drug use and carry out effective public campaigns against the menace) and Government Engineering College, Thrissur (for enabling reporting drug use without revealing one’s personal identity and offering prizes to such informers).
AI, ML and block chain to be deployed
The four-member ‘Uncertainty’ team of Amal Jyothi College comprised Nebin Mathew John, Sam Stephen Thomas, Vivek Manoj Kumar and Sameel Hassan. Considering the importance of ensuring the privacy of the drug-users and anti-narcotic activists, the engineering students had devised a programme named ‘Nirvana’ that checked data leak through artificial intelligence, machine learning and block chain.
The encrypted software, which cannot be hacked, is capable of detecting the spread of hate messages and use of narcotics. It would facilitate anyone to pass on information to authorities about drug-peddling, but without revealing one’s identity.
The programme also provides prizes to those doing such services. Further, the software has a QR code facility that gives it access to the public to enable them work against narcotics. It can also detect good anti-drug work being done through social media. It carries information on de-addiction centres, counsellors, trainers and awareness drives.