Need for Smart City Infrastructure
India is on its way to develop its first ‘100 Smart Cities’. The ambitious project has been under the spotlight ever since the Modi government announced its vision of developing smart cities for India, and investing $1.2 billion to create them. The need to recast the urban landscape via smart cities arose with the increasing pace of migration that India witnessed in the past few years. This emerging neo-middle class, with aspirations of better living, was impossible to accommodate in the existing city structure. Hence, the need to develop new cities to accommodate the burgeoning population.
Technology and Infrastructure Capabilities for a Smart City Set-Up
A smart city utilises Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) to inter-connect various technologies and optimize delivery of smart services like traffic, utilities, surveillance etc. To achieve this, it is imperative to have the communications infrastructure designed in a way that avoids common points of failure.
Smart cities are hotbeds for economic growth and innovation, however, it also attracts wrongdoers, ranging from petty criminals to lethal terrorist attacks. Therefore, it is important for a city to be equipped with monitoring mechanisms and safety systems like IP based video surveillance.
How to secure Smart Cities?
Since the smart city model operates on information gathering, its storage and distribution, ICT will be used for communicating between surveillance systems, transportation sectors, control centres and service providers for providing traffic management, building management, security services etc.
The Government and the planning departments, on their part, need to understand the requirements from each city. Since every city is unique, and has its own set of challenges and opportunities, the one-size-fits-all model will not work. When purchasing surveillance solutions, one should not focus on whizz-bang features, as they may not necessarily work. The Government should take time to understand security needs and look for a complete solutions provider.
This is crucial, as many of us may have witnessed the use of video surveillance technology in the past; however, needless to say, its usage has so far been sporadic and unsatisfactory in some cases. But all that is set to change with the onset of smart cities, where buildings will be specifically designed to accommodate advanced technology, and installing video surveillance solutions will become imperative. In addition, we will also notice that the application and importance of video surveillance will move from just security to tracking, monitoring, crime-prevention, disaster-prevention, among many others.
Planning will play a significant role to address the safety and security needs of commercial establishments, railway stations, metro rail, airports, city markets and shopping malls; residential areas; schools and colleges. Video surveillance, fire alarms and protection, access control, intrusion alarm, public address and emergency evacuation systems are some of the important safety and security building blocks for a smart city. A smart city needs to have such solutions properly planned and effectively deployed and monitored by the administrative agencies.
With the advent of technology, we can now see how innovative analytics tools, sensor technology and artificial intelligence can be added to both existing and new surveillance installations. These tools can help in crowd monitoring/ detection, traffic management, left baggage identification, criminal identification, and also reduce cases of people breaking the law by informing the concerned authorities to take preventive or necessary actions. For example: A traffic light violation can be caught on camera and sent to the concerned officials, who in turn can present the proof to the violator.
The installation cost of video surveillance systems in smart cities is nominal when compared to the overall cost of setting up a smart city. Plus, the applications of video surveillance systems is myriad. The data collected through video surveillance can be used for innumerable purposes through video analytics. The surveillance system operates round the clock, and is constantly on guard, waiting for an impulse to start recording or sending an alarm to the operator. Also, these systems can integrate information with other applications, creating new benefits and thereby opening up new business possibilities.
What are the steps taken by the Government?
The Government on its part has made it mandatory to install surveillance cameras in educational institutions, pubs and malls, places of historical importance, transport and transport hubs, including railway stations, bus stands, airports, hospitals and restaurants. This is a positive step, especially as we witness increasing crime rate, terrorist attacks and security breaches.
The government also understands the need for high-quality video footage, which is set to become a necessity as clarity and ease of identification will be of the utmost importance. Real-time data analysis will be paramount for providing timely insights in order to improve decision making and response time. Video analytics will also help in identifying activity hot spots, especially during events like Independence Day or New Year’s Eve, when city planners can anticipate the crowd and respond faster to make real-time changes to ground operations.
In conclusion, one can say that from a macro level, the issue of urbanization in India has become an important and irreversible process, and a chief determinant of national economic growth. Rapid and unprecedented population growth has contributed to some common pressing issues – public and community safety being one of them.
A smart city with connected solutions which is able to listen and understand what is happening in the city and also make better decisions is what everyone is looking for. This can only be achieved with the use of advanced analytical techniques in real time which allows one to create a kind of awareness and understanding about the city which undoubtedly improves the services being provided.
Published in Security solutions for community safety for First Post (August, 2016)