Some of the big-ticket pandals whose waiting time are being calculated include Tala Prattoy, Suruchi Sangha, Chetla Agrani, Santosh Mitra Square, Kumartuli Park, Mudiali Club, Sibmandir, College Square, Ekdalia Evergreen and Tridhara Sammelani. The longest wait time — between 12 to17 minutes — was at Tala Prattoy, Santosh Mitra Square and Suruchi Sangha.
Police on Thursday shared an elaborate presentation on Thursday to explain how the waiting time is being calculated. “We wanted to share the procedure on how we are arriving at our calculations. This would conclusively show that we are favouring none of the organizers. We have stated that two cops will be strategically placed, one at the starting of the queue and another at the end of it. The one at the end will shift his position according to the change of position in the queue. Both have a smart phone where an app is periodically sending its location and time to the system. Based on inputs, a rough calculation using AI is made about the waiting time. The findings are then fed into the server and shared on the KP display boards and FB,” said an officer at Lalbazar.
“We were surprised that the display board was showing 13 minutes outside Suruchi Sangha in the early hours of Thursday. However, when we entered the pandal, we found it was just an extra minute from the projected time,” said Sandipta Banerjee from Maniktala who went pandal-hopping on Panchami.
Manali Chowdhury claimed the app helped her prepare for a visit to two top draw south Kolkata biggies — Chetla Agrani and Suruchi Sangha. “My friends were initially apprehensive about the possible wait time. The police updates helped me convince them to visit the pandals,” said Chowdhury.
Organizers, however, told TOI that they were in a dilemma. “’If the police project that waiting time, there is a possibility that revellers might avoid visiting our pandal. But with the puja just about beginning now, a few minutes of waiting time can be comprehended as lesser popularity of our pandal,” said an puja organizer near Amherst Street.
“Q Time, our new puja crowd calculating system, is a ready reckoner at various pandals in Kolkata,” said joint CP (Organization) Syed Waquar Raza.
Police stated that puja volunteers too can use this data to control the crowd and pre-empt a stampede-like situation. “We will speak to organizers if we need some crowd diversions. This system is providing them constant on-ground feedback,” said another officer.