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Barco India has implemented control room projects for smart cities mission

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How to measure the smartness of a city? How can technology play a role?

A smart city, by definition, has to be smart. It should operate on optimized processes and efficient workflows which promote greater productivity, livability, workability, and sustainability. This can only be achieved if public information systems, services, and utilities are integrated with state-of-the-art information and communication technologies.

Smart cities, in my opinion, are based at the intersection of technology, people, service provision, policymaking, administration, and planning. Technology is at the very heart of a smart city. It acts as the catalyst – the chief enabler that empowers all stakeholders – by optimizing distribution and visualization of all kinds of data, helping smart cities achieve better collaborations between various elements and enhancing functionality and service delivery to improve the standard of living of its citizens. It has to be powered by accurate, swift, and actionable insights. Imagine a workplace where employees are connected with one another through collaborative software and devices. Critical data can be shared in real-time with just a click, and decision-making becomes more information-driven, swift, and accurate. A smart city is a large-scale implementation of such a workplace.

As the Indian government continues to make substantial investments in deploying smart solutions, the role that a smart and aware citizen plays in the successful development of a smart city cannot be overlooked. While building a smart city it is imperative to know about the needs of the citizens. It is essential to measure how the use of these smarter technologies is able to simplify the lives of the citizens.

A recent study estimated that smart cities can save up to 125 hours for each citizen every year by providing them with smart solutions and smarter technologies such as smart parking, smart traffic management, et al. For example, with traffic ever increasing, the only way to help citizens with their everyday traffic woes is good data gathering, monitoring, and planning which allows the authorities to quickly dispatch emergency-response vehicles, anticipate traffic delays and divert traffic to alternate routes more efficiently.

Then is the task of educating the citizens about the smart solutions and engaging them in the initiatives. For example, the technological innovation in energy efficiency alone cannot help in reducing the country’s energy consumption until the citizens themselves do not make an active effort in monitoring their energy usage behaviour.

A smart city, therefore, is not just a city that leverages technology but the one that implements that technology for the benefit of its communities. While technology innovation plays a vital role, it would be fair to say that the success of India’s Smart City Mission is firmly vested in smart citizens.

How far innovation and technological advancement has helped in achieving the targets of Smart Cities Mission?

Technology plays a crucial part in turning today’s fast moving and increasingly more populated cities into Smart Cities, which is why the government is investing heavily in modernizing the infrastructure and equipment.

However, you can only talk about smart cities if all these pieces of technology are connected to exchange information. A smart city will be considered smart due to its inherent intelligence in making effective use of available information.

Just imagine the amount of data and information that the authorities in a Smart City have to process owing to their 24/7 operations. Couple this with the need to collate this vast amount of data from multiple sources and present to everyone in the value chain to improve information visibility and decision-making in a fast and easy way.

Therefore, enabling seamless, real-time access to information will require smart control room solutions, which will manage and streamline the enormous amounts of data that these smart cities generate on a daily basis. By allowing all stakeholders to share and view real-time information through connected devices, control rooms can assist in the creation of a highly reliable, efficient, and futuristic smart infrastructure for Indian cities.

So, while technology innovation will continue in parallel with smart solutions, it is important that information is represented in an actionable form. Seamless interconnectivity between multiple stakeholders will be vital to ensure smooth day-to-day operations and better resolution of issues which will ultimately result in better collaboration, faster decision-making, and higher mission effectiveness.

India is still far behind when it comes to adoption of technology for smart cities. How do we overcome this ?

India’s major urban centres have undergone unmanaged and unstructured expansion over an extended period of time. This unregulated growth has stretched thin the already overburdened urban infrastructure in the country. Every large city in India is today dealing with several critical issues pertaining to healthcare, housing, mobility, safety and security, public utilities, resources etc.

There is, in India, a palpable feeling of excitement about the future, and with good reason. The country has made massive strides in recent times to emerge as one of the fastest-growing large economies in the world. This has been made possible largely thanks to the government’s push for greater technological inclusivity and better-equipped, more pervasive tech infrastructure. Nowhere is this focus on leveraging technology as a major catalyst for India’s transformation into an empowered, enabled nation more apparent than the ambitious Smart Cities Mission. However, In most of the government tenders, the vendors are selected and awarded basis the ‘lowest cost method’ (L1). However, it doesn’t take into consideration that technologically advanced and sophisticated equipment may be costlier than L1. This, in turn, restricts innovation.

Lately, the government has realized this gap and brought quality and cost-based selection method (QCBS) in the process for evaluating vendors under which the government assigns extra points for technology and quality superiority of solutions. This method of evaluation is expected to support and drive innovation and technological advancements in the developments of our smart cities.

And as India continues its journey towards being a digitally powered nation, we believe that these roadblocks to smart cities will be addressed and this segment will see an increased growth in the near future.

What are the various installations that Barco has done as part of India’s Smart City Mission?

We have a lot of control room projects installed and ongoing as part of India’s Smart City Mission across various cities and regions.

Some of the prestigious installations are:

  • As part of UP Dial 100 project, we have installed an advanced video wall with 180 rear-projection LED cubes in multiple configurations at their Lucknow centre to enable faster, more accurate tracking and resolution of complaints, crimes, and queries. Responsible for providing emergency response services to more than 204 million people, it routes information from calls and texts to the nearest police stations and response units so that they can deliver aid in around 15 minutes. This project envisions the establishment of a central Contact Centre at Lucknow to facilitate receiving information of emergencies relating to public safety by ensuring round-the-clock availability of operational 100 numbers from the entire State. Police field services are provided by 3200 4-wheeler and 1600 2-wheeler Police Response Vehicles (PRVs), deployed directly under its control.
  • We also have an installation of 28 video wall cubes at Andhra Pradesh Real-Time Governance (RTG) Centre which is typically used during critical events and disaster management/relief. The physical RTG centre is comprised of a “command and control centre” and a “war room.” The command and control centre (CCC) is at the heart of all operations, with seating for 34 operators and a large video-conference hall. The war room is a smaller area with seating for about 10-12 people. This is typically used during critical events and disaster management/relief. Both areas are equipped with video walls—a large 85 ft wall with 24 video wall cubes in the CCC and a smaller one with 4 video wall cubes in the war room.

Our solutions make it possible for control room operators to monitor all incoming information in real-time and route it quickly and accurately to the concerned teams. This not only ensures a swifter response to emergencies relating to public safety but also optimizes the on-ground deployment of the police force.

How far has the ambitious smart cities mission of the government managed to get completed? Is the development of smart cities by 2020 a realistic expectation?

Recently, we have noticed a big focus on finishing the smart cities on schedule. A lot of traction has been seen in awarding tenders. With the way technology is advancing, coupled with the government focus, we are optimistic about the timelines and are hopeful that we’ll be able to hit the goal in time.

If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]


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