Data centres are a vital component of intelligent cities. As smart cities flourish amidst rapid urbanisation and information and communication technology development, the demand for building more and more data centres is rising. At a recent tele.net conference, Pradeep Kumar Agarwal, advisor, Gurugram Smart City, and Aniruddha Shahapure, chief knowledge officer, Pune Smart City, shared their views on the emerging demand for data centres, deployment models and smart city initiatives towards hyperscale data centres and data centre parks. Some of the key takeaways from their presentations…
The Pune Smart City has its own data centre and a data recovery centre in Mumbai. The data centre collects all the data to be used as and when required by the user departments. Pune is the first smart city to use the India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX) to launch the first pilot urban data exchange. The city is contributing to almost 850 data-sets via the IUDX application programming interface.
Further, 300 Wi-Fi hotspots are available at public gardens, hospitals, police stations and other strategic locations. Around 50 environmental sensors are functional at various locations to monitor critical parameters such as sound, temperature, air quality and noise pollution. Also, the smart city has 32 flood sensors including at bridges, canals and riverbanks to measure live water levels. All such data collection points are key in collecting strategic data, which helps in devising future course of action by the smart city.
Meanwhile, the Gurugram Smart City has a fully secured data centre, which meets the requirements of different departments. The Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) uses the existing data centre facility of RailTel in Gurugram. This data centre is connected on a fibre link to the command and control centre (CCC). The smart city corporation has used hyperflex servers and spine-leaf technology. The smart city has 20 servers across the city, comprising 10 hyperflex servers and 10 unified computing system servers.
The Gurugram Smart City is divided into six subcities. The optical fibre network is laid along all the important roads across subcities. The city has deployed about 400 km of optical fibre cable (OFC) to connect all CCTV locations, government buildings, etc., covering all the strategic points in the city. About 38 access rings are made along with 11 aggregation points put together in these subcities. The optical fibre network has four core points lest failure of any point should hamper data collection.
Gurugram has used dense wavelength division multiplexing in the core network, routers in the aggregation network and every CCTV is connected to the nearest aggregation point.
The Gurugram Smart City’s integrated command and control centre (ICCC) is being fully utilised for city surveillance, traffic monitoring, street light control, sewage treatment plants, water supply, solid waste management, environment and civic services. Further, during the Covid-19 pandemic, ICCCs were used as emergency response systems. The smart city has around 136 emergency call boxes through which citizens can directly connect to the ICCC. Besides, the smart city has launched a mobile app for citizens to provide information related to the GMDA and has also developed a grievance portal.
Further, Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited’s ICCCs enable the city administration and its stakeholders to make informed decisions with real-time data. The Pune Smart City too has all its sensor points and data collection units attached to the ICCC. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the ICCC proved key in assessing the data collected regarding various aspects such as number of cases, patient details and planning various containment zones across the city.
Challenges and the way forward
A key challenge put forward by the Gurugram Smart City was the deployment of OFC infrastructure in the city and attaining right-of-way (RoW) approvals from different authorities. Further, the presence of a large number of manholes in cities to cover multiple points of presence and the need to maintain service-level agreements during fibre faults are also affecting OFC deployment. Given the issues associated with smart city development, the future trend will be cooperation between institutions across different fields in the value chain.
GMDA is planning to set up a smart parking system, a water system and an intelligent traffic management system; to provide data centre connectivity to buildings on the optical fibre network and other important locations; create Wi-Fi hotspots; advertise at bus shelters through ICCCs; and conduct 5G trials. Further, the Gurugram Smart City is working on Phase II of CCTV installation, adding 800 more cameras to the existing figure to take it to 1,200.
Net, net, smart city administrations see data centres not only as storage units but also as responsible architecture, wherein data centres will have more responsibilities in terms of security, accessibility, latency and retrieval of data.