Night has fallen by the time Shreya finishes work in the office. That morning her husband had dropped her to work and she had said she would try and leave early and get back home herself. It worked out differently.
She now is looking for an auto rickshaw on the streets of Delhi, which look ominous past twilight. With a prayer on her lips, she gets into an auto rickshaw and is on the edge throughout the next 25 minutes. Until she can see the reassuring sight of her husband waiting at the gate of the condominium she lives in.
Imagine a different scenario. Before Shreya boards the auto rickshaw, using the registration number plate of the vehicle, she checks an online repository as a measure of precaution for the driver’s identity, criminal record, and even the authenticity of his driver’s licence. A few seconds later having ascertained the driver’s credentials, she has a peaceful, even pleasant, ride home, listening to her favourite songs from Guide.
That carefree, jaunty ride home could become a reality for Shreya and for millions of working women with real time, online repositories providing the backbone that the background screening industry needs to measure up to the needs of the instant, on-demand economy.
Online repositories will in particular be a boon for criminal history checks, surely the most important of all checks that we talk about. This is one check we can’t afford to go wrong with. Consider this: as many as 30 million criminal cases are pending in the plodding Indian judicial system. If you assume, and it’s a fair assumption, that a third of these 30 million alleged criminals are actually guilty, it’s fair to say that there could be ten million criminals roaming about this very moment.
Frightening thought, isn’t it? No, my idea is not to alarm you; it’s just to underscore that a relative feeling of safety can only come with an online repository of these alleged crooks. It requires strong technology to take centre stage to be able to crunch massive volumes of information, analyse and draw patterns, and then to produce results—all in a few seconds. Advanced text analytics, artificial intelligence techniques and powerful search algorithms will make that possible.
In discussing online repositories, traditionally the focus has been on criminal background checks where checks can be done on the basis of information available from multiple sources—courts, police, regulatory bodies, even media—and verified using intelligent technology. Technology can help monitor this information.
However, the process of data aggregation is more pain staking in case of education and employment checks. No technology-driven alternative exists. Consider a 24 x7, readily available online repository with data aggregated from multiple sources- employers and educational institutions.
A strong repository of former employees of a company or exhaustive databases with details of all students and their educational performance will undoubtedly put the background screening process on skates. This will aid the process of basic employment screening checks including verification of employment record, academics, references etc. in real time. This calls for employers and educational institutions to necessarily contribute data to help create repositories.
Is that all too futuristic? No, I don’t think so. We in India should be ready to believe its likelihood. After all, we have undertaken the unprecedented task of authenticating the identity of 1.3 billion people. What the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is doing is that a unique identity number, along with other attributes such as biometrics, is submitted to UIDAI’s Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) for verification and the repository verifies whether the data submitted matches the data available.
So, repositories could mean the end of the road for painstaking manual processes and that’s not a death any of us would grieve over. Repositories of critical data are the future of the screening process. With technology advancement and need for instant results, repositories are the solution and we are moving towards online repositories faster than we realise.