ABU Designs Tracker To Prevent Hajj Pilgrims From ‘Japa’

A team at the Department of Computer Science, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaira, led by Professor, S.B. Junaidu, has finally developed a prototype for a Wearable eBand Tracking System backed by the Nigerian Communications Commission, which tracks the real-time location of pilgrims and prevents Hajj pilgrims from escaping.

This was contained in the final report, submitted to the NCC which was obtained by THE WHISTLER.

The project which cost N6.99m was first proposed in May 2016 and was approved by the commission two years later in May 2018.

The aim of the project is to develop a wearable eBand for tracking pilgrims during the annual Hajj exercise, which, occasionally, leads to eventualities.

The project was stalled for about seven months, as the team only received 10 per cent of the payment on March 12, 2019 despite the fact that the NCC paid up to 40 per cent requested by the team into the University’s account.

“The last communication we received from NCC was dated June 17, 2021 with reference NCC/R&D/ABU/015. In that communication, we were reminded that the Commission had disbursed the sum of N5,945,903 being 85 per cent of the Research Grant for the Stages 1, 2 and 3,” the report said.

The report obtained by THE WHISTLER showed that the eBand identifies a pilgrim and periodically sends location information of the owner to the central database. An eBand also has an NFC tag that is readable by the mobile reader.

Also, communication between the wearable-band, mobile application and the control server requires the eBand and the mobile app to send small-sized messages (pilgrim’s location) to the server.

The eBand allows an official to visualize the history of a pilgrim’s movement over a period. The option is available after successfully identifying a pilgrim.

It also captures basic information components like basic medical data, next of kin, registration with a pilgrim agency and eBand identification information

The report said pilgrim biodata is centrally maintained so that an intending pilgrim is issued a unique identifier.

The developers failed to build the final eBand design after visiting China, Dubai and Malaysia but could only come up with a prototype.

“We spent the last few months exploring the possibility of fabricating the final eBand design in China and then Dubai and finally in Malaysia without success. To avoid further delay in the project, we resorted to building the eBand prototype by assembling off-the-shelf components,” the report said.

A team comprising Dr. Mohammed Kyari; Dr. Lawal Moriki and Abubakar Daudu demonstrated the project to the NCC.

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