Safety is a very crucial aspect to ensure that a city is liveable for its inhabitants. Safety and security have been accorded high priority under the Smart Cities Mission (SCM). Deployment of CCTV cameras, development of integrated command and control centres (ICCCs), creation of emergency response rooms, etc. has helped the cities in reducing crime rates, improving safety, and monitoring cities’ day-to-day activities in real time.
Solutions in sight
One of the primary tools for improving the security apparatus of a city is CCTV cameras. To make cities safer, high resolution cameras with large storage capacity and use of advanced analytical tools are required. Besides crime prevention, cameras also help in managing emergency situations. For instance, during the Mumbai floods in 2017, the police deployed manpower in the worst-affected areas, based on CCTV camera footages. The CCTV camera system can also issue alerts to the command and control centre (CCC) in response to a variety of security issues. As per government data, Lucknow has allocated the highest budget, amounting to around Rs 5 billion, for a smart city surveillance system with the augmentation of an existing control centre and setting up of modern police kiosks. Some cities have also deployed next-generation technologies, such as drone surveillance in Kochi and automatic facial recognition from a criminal database and behavioural monitoring in Vellore. A number of cities have also leveraged budgets from the Nirbhaya Fund in addition to the SCM budget allocated for safety and security.
Another technological advancement in the segment is the setting up of ICCCs or smart city centres that connect various departments with the use of information and communications technology. The key objective of an ICCC is to serve as a single source of information for all civic functions, provide a platform with the ability to receive, intelligently correlate and share information with stakeholders, and serve as an emergency and disaster management platform. India’s first ICCC was inaugurated in Bhopal, wherein authorities can monitor the status of various civic utilities on a real-time basis using global positioning system sensors. The ICCC at Ahmedabad was inaugurated in February 2018. Located in a dedicated four-floor building, the ICCC has been designed to monitor city operations by integrating data from various smart city solutions installed for different Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) departments.
Smart cities have also encouraged the usage of street lights with energy efficient LEDs that reduce the carbon footprint and long-term operation costs. Operational integration with real-time data allows lighting control as and when required. It helps in monitoring street disturbances and the law and order situation through noise detection, CCTVs and community response, traffic flow monitoring, etc. The AMC has deployed a centralised monitoring system to capture the power consumption of various sections of street lights. About 6,000 smart street lights are connected through the ZigBee protocol and are individually controlled from the CCC for on/off and dimming functionalities. Besides, the Pune Municipal Corporation has replaced over 70,000 lights with LEDs. As a result, the city has been able to reduce its power consumption from 14,823 kW per day to 6,000 kW per day, resulting in annual savings of Rs 180 million.
An important component of smart cities is the emergency response system. The system facilitates faster response time to emergency calls from multiple communication channels including mobiles and social media. The emergency response system could be equipped with features to upload pictures or videos, which would get tagged with the calls and forwarded to the concerned department electronically. Raipur has installed emergency call boxes at 83 places in the city, using which people can seek help during an emergency by just pressing a button. Visakhapatnam has installed 50 public address systems and 10 variable messaging display boards for dissemination of information during an emergency. The emergency box, citizen mobile app and panic button enable citizens to report emergencies.
Safety initiatives on the anvil
Among the various upcoming projects for safety and security under the SCM, Coimbatore has planned a surveillance project with the installation of CCTV cameras, poles, a server, junction switch and field component at all junctions/
critical locations at a cost of Rs 800 million. Sagar, in Madhya Pradesh, has also planned an investment of Rs 790 million on safety and security infrastructure and management under Project Unnati – Urban Infrastructure Development and Regeneration. Further, New Town, Kolkata has planned an investment of Rs 470 million on city safety under the mission. Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh has an upcoming investment of Rs 370 million on a fire and emergency response system. Similarly, Bhubaneswar has an upcoming investment of Rs 240 million on emergency response and city incidence management under the mission. Bengaluru has planned an investment of Rs 320 million on the improvement of neighbourhood safety.
The way forward
The advancement of robust security solutions has become crucial with increasing crime rates on the physical and cyber fronts. Factors such as social awareness, strict law enforcement and citizen sensitivity play an equally vital role in ensuring safety and security in a city. However, the existing surveillance system suffers from various issues pertaining to data storage and incident data retrieval, thus making the use of smart solutions important.