Safety and security are important factors while selecting a city to live and work in. With the growing urbanisation of Indian cities, crime rates are increasing at an alarming rate. Further, migration from rural areas to urban cities has stressed the existing resources, both in terms of infrastructure and manpower. In 2016, a total of 2.97 million crimes (Indian Penal Code) were reported, of which over 35 per cent were in the megacities of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. For developing a safety and security strategy, technology, planning and governance play a significant role. The concept of “smart policing”, introduced by the Prime Minister, has given a major fillip to the Smart Cities Mission (SCM). The increased use of technology and the modernisation of the police force will play a key role in making cities safe and secure.
Mumbai City Surveillance Project
The Mumbai City Surveillance Project focuses on citizen safety and security. As a part of the project, 6,000 cameras have been installed to monitor traffic, read licence plates, check red light violations and check the GPS for police vehicles and route them to the desired locations. The surveillance system comprises data centres, a picture intelligence unit, vehicle tracking systems, video management systems, collaborative monitoring, and multiple command/viewing centres. Mobile command and control centres, another important feature of the project, have helped boost operational efficiencies during special events. Plans are also underway to deploy drone cameras to improve the incident response time.
Technologies for this project have been sourced from Israel, Europe and the US. Some of the technology- and equipment-related innovations include Lidar-based survey equipment, thermal cameras, automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras, and solar panel-powered cameras. The project has significantly impacted the quality of life and contributed towards the resolution of physical crimes.
The biggest issues faced during project implementation revolved around power, broadband and connectivity. It was very difficult to create a sync between the locations where CCTVs needed to be deployed and power availability. Obtaining approvals from power companies was also very difficult. The realities of dealing with the city-level system and bureaucracy rendered project implementation challenging. Overall, there has been a doubling in incidents reported which has had a considerable impact on citizen safety. The project has also generated revenue for the city due to its connectivity to the e-challan software.
Surat Safe City Project
Surat is the first city in the country to have a city-wide video surveillance system. As part of the Surat Safe City Project, cameras have been installed at important public places and entrances to the city for round-the-clock video surveillance. Further, a wide range of security systems such as integrated physical security information management systems, intelligent city surveillance systems, an ANPR and e-challan picture intelligence unit (with integrated facial recognition), internet protocol video surveillance, video wall solutions and integrated building management systems have been deployed in the city.
A smart city is a combination of infrastructure and technology. While technology is readily available, its deployment is impeded by the absence of an efficient infrastructure asset base. Despite some encouraging initiatives, most cities in the country are visibly deficient in the quality of safety and security services they provide. The focus on safety and security needs to be mainstreamed. There is a need to create a national command centre or a homeland security department. Besides video analytics and surveillance, there is also a need to monitor food and water security, pollution levels, energy availability, etc.
With the launch of the SCM, attempts are being made to make cities smart as well as safe. Going forward, the key areas of intervention will include traffic management, resource sustainability, dissemination of information and an emphasis on district/city-level command and data centres. w
With inputs from a presentation by James Caton, Chief Business Officer and Head, Smarter Cities Infrastructure, L&T, at a recent India Infrastructure conference