Optical fibre cable (OFC) connectivity has been instrumental in powering several technology-based applications across today’s smart cities. Smart cities are aggressively expanding their OFC network coverage to enable faster digitalisation of services. Pune and Gurugram are two smart cities that have been actively leveraging OFC networks to enable a number of applications such as smart infrastructure, traffic management and public safety to improve public service delivery.
Pune Smart City
Pune Smart City has implemented the following applications supported by OFC networks.
- City Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi services provide fast internet connectivity on the go to citizens of Pune. The objective of the city Wi-Fi application is to provide free city Wi-Fi (limited usage) and paid city Wi-Fi facilities to citizens.
- Traffic management: Pune’s adaptive traffic management system enables the smart city to use different types of sensors and fetch global positioning system (GPS) data from drivers’ smartphones to determine the number, location and speed of vehicles.
- Street lighting: Smart lighting solutions are being used to gather data on illuminance, movement of people and vehicles, combine it with historical and contextual data (for example, special events and public transport schedules) and analyse it to improve lighting schedules.
- Waste management: Internet of things (IoT)-enabled smart city solutions are helping optimise waste collection schedules by tracking waste levels, as well as providing route optimisation and operational analytics.
- Smart parking: With the help of GPS data from drivers’ smartphones (or road surface sensors embedded in the ground in parking spots), smart parking solutions are helping determine whether parking spots are occupied or available and create a real-time parking map.
- Surveillance and security: Pune Smart City is incorporating technologies such as integrated surveillance systems for safety and security through integrated command and control centres (ICCCs) and immediate emergency response systems for disaster/ crisis management.
- Charging points for e-vehicles: To build a sustainable transport network for the city and reduce pollution levels, the e-bus project was envisaged by Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited (PSCDCL) and executed by Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML).
- Advertising and information for citizens: Variable message sign (VMS) boards have been installed at various locations in Pune city to provide commuters with information about traffic conditions and alternative routes in case of high traffic on particular routes.
- Smart elements: As part of Pune’s Smart City Mission, a city-wide “Network of Smart Elements” is being installed to make the city a better place to live in by increasing safety, livability and the availability of urban services. PSCDCL has set up a state-of-the-art Smart City Operations Centre (SCOC), which is integrated with various data sources (internal and external) to provide real-time information to the city administration and citizens to enable them to make informed decisions. The project has been implemented with around 732 smart elements deployed at strategic locations across the city.
- Smart buildings: Stakeholders in the smart city are focused on building smart infrastructure connected with IoT that can autonomously perform preset actions. Thus, with optic fibre, urban infrastructure can be connected to city facilities and be transformed into smart buildings.
- Public utility services: Pune’s public utilities and services such as water, gas, electricity, health, fire and police are looking at ways to be more ICT enabled. A reliable high speed fibre network can facilitate real-time communications, making these utilities more interconnected and efficient.
Progress and investment
About 199 Wi-Fi hotspots have been set up to provide fast internet connectivity at various locations across the city, including gardens, hospitals, police stations, government offices and bus stops. Pune’s e-learning project, involving over 283 schools of the Pune Municipal Corporation, is being driven by the OFC network laid across the city.
In the coming months, Asia’s first adaptive traffic management system will be operational at 125 strategic junctions in Pune city. The city is also investing in 5G pilots and subsequent infrastructure upgrades and innovation along with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for utilising street furniture and small cells in the city.
Gurugram smart city
The Gurugram Smart City planned an OFC backbone network for the entire area of the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), which comprises Gurugram and Manesar. Laying of fibre is being carried out under the public-private partnership (PPP) model at the two locations.
A fibre network, stretching across 600 km, has been planned to provide the necessary connectivity for surveillance equipment to be deployed across 358 locations, government buildings, police stations, and other smart city facilities. The smart city has already laid about 400 km of OFC in Subcities 1 to 5 to connect all CCTV locations, government buildings, etc.
All major roads have been covered. A total of 227 government buildings have been connected, which includes 4 colleges, 14 hospitals, 45 police stations, 56 schools and 108 government buildings. The city has also identified around 1,700 manholes for accessing optical fibre. The GMDA cloud and ICCC are also connected on optical fibre in ring configuration. The coverage of the entire network can be viewed on the myGurugram app under smart solutions. Currently, 214 sites under the CCTV project and 15 sites under the pilot project (1,200 cameras) are live and being monitored by the police department on a daily basis. As part of Phase II implementation of the city’s CCTV project, the network will be expanded further by adding aggregation nodes and around 300 km of OFC.
The key applications powered by the OFC network in the city are:
- CCTV surveillance system and data analytics
- Traffic monitoring and control
- Public transport management
- Environment monitoring
- Waste management for all types of waste
- PCR integration
- GMDA mobile app
- Sewage treatment plant
- Town planning and licensing
- GIS solutions
- Water supply distribution and monitoring
- Smart LED street light monitoring and control
- Public complaint redressal and feedback system
- Asset management
- Property and land record management
Challenges in OFC deployment
- Non-uniform implementation of the Right of Way (RoW) Rules, 2016: Overall project costs have risen due to the non-uniform implementation of the RoW Rules, 2016. This has also led to delays in obtaining approvals.
- Rising cost of fibre: For large-scale deployment to be possible, the cost of fibre and its accessories needs to be subsidised.
- Development activities: The operating costs for service providers have increased due to the cuts in cables and reduced cable life caused by uncoordinated development activities such as road expansion and laying of electrical cables.
Mitigation of challenges
In order to effectively address these challenges, it is necessary that the concerned authorities play the role of facilitators and forge collaborations wherever needed. They should be a part of the stakeholders’ group and leverage the benefits of fiberisation and digitalisation. Further, there is an immediate need to create a national fibre authority to ensure the rationalisation of RoW costs and shorten approval timelines. The government should also encourage fibre service providers to play the role of neutral hosts and offer fibre to telecom operators on a non-discriminatory basis. Authorities should also look into the regulatory norms and security concerns, which are negatively impacting interest in infrastructure sharing. There is an immediate need to look into the way service agreements are undertaken. Many companies show unwillingness to enter into these due to the complex approval procedures, which act as impediments to infrastructure sharing. w
Based on presentations by Pradeep Kumar Aggarwal, Adviser, Gurugram Smart City; and Anirudhha Shahapure, Chief Knowledge Officer, PSCDCL, at a recent tele.net conference on OFC Networks in India