Smart governance is one of the key pillars of the Smart Cities Mission. Broadly, two types of activities have been envisaged under the mission – area-based development and pan-city development. Integrated command and control centres (ICCCs) are being developed for the latter.
ICCCs are being developed as centres of information from various departments. This information is collected and analysed for better planning of the city. The business intelligence engine at the ICCC processes all the information and generates insights. These insights play a key role in managing incidents across the city. As of March 1, 2019, 18 cities have invited tenders, 33 cities have issued work orders and 13 others have completed the implementation of ICCCs.
Key completed ICCCs
The country’s first ICCC was launched in Madhya Pradesh at the Bhopal Smart City Development Corporation Limited facility in Berkheda. The cloud-based universal internet of things (IoT) platform has been developed by the Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The Bhopal ICCC is for all the seven smart cities of Madhya Pradesh – Bhopal, Indore, Ujjain, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Satna and Sagar. It enables the Madhya Pradesh state administration to monitor and administer the civic utilities and citizen services of multiple cities through a central cloud. It also enables state-wide monitoring of these cities from a central command view. Besides, the ICCC centre, along with command control centres in each of these seven cities, is expected to result in significant cost savings as compared to full-fledged data and disaster recovery.
The ICCC has been designed to help the authorities to monitor the status of various civic utilities on a real-time basis using GPS sensors. The various services of the Bhopal Municipal Corporation that have been integrated with the ICCC are solid waste management units, meteorological department centres, dial 100 police vehicles, dial 108 ambulance services, traffic cameras and street lights, water supply centres and public buses.
Completed in a record time of seven months, Phase I of the Vadodara ICCC was launched in October 2017. The key objective of the project is to establish a collaborative framework where inputs from different functional departments such as transport, water, fire, police, meteorology and e-governance can be assimilated and analysed on a single platform to create a pool of aggregated city-level information. Further, the information can be converted into actionable intelligence, which will be delivered to relevant stakeholders and citizens.
The scope of work of the project included establishment of an ICCC that can operate both in normal situations (day-to-day city management) as well as during emergency situations (disaster management). The project was executed in parallel with other smart city projects to make its integration speedy. Apart from a 25-seater command and control centre at the central location, the project includes around 250 closed-circuit television cameras (fixed and pan-tilt-zoom), smart signals with area traffic control systems at 39 junctions, automatic number plate recognition cameras at 25 junctions, environmental sensors at eight locations, variable message display boards at 21 locations, public address systems at 13 junctions, emergency call boxes at nine important locations and approximately 150 km of optical fibre cable network. The benefits of the Vadodara ICCC are real-time data analysis, integrated operations and informed decision-making.
The contract for the project was awarded to a consortium of nCode Solutions and CMS Computers Limited at a total cost of Rs 880 million. The cost includes the supply of hardware, and networking, installation, commissioning and operations and maintenance (O&M) of all the aforementioned solutions for a period of five years.
The ICCC at Naya Raipur was inaugurated in June 2018. The contract for the design, development, implementation, O&M of the ICCC was awarded to IL&FS Limited and Schneider Electric.
The Naya Raipur ICCC enables the integration of various systems of different stakeholders in the city, thereby enhancing the safety and security levels in the city. The ICCC also provides the following:
- A single window for all citizen services such as land allotment, water connection billing and payment, bus rapid transit system (BRTS) travel planning through a mobile app and web portal
- Pilot smart city project with user-friendly applications for the differently abled
- Optimal management of assets and services through advanced utility services such as distribution management system, outage management system and water network optimisation
- Continuous city surveillance through bullet and pan-tilt-zoom cameras to ensure citizen safety and act as a deterrent to criminal activities
- Monitoring of CO2 levels through dashboards, bringing accountability into the city administration
- Improved quality of services through faster response to citizens’ requests and applications
- 24×7 uninterrupted water and power supply with real-time monitoring through state-of-the-art electrical and water supervisory control and data acquisition systems
- Automation of building permission process
- Enhanced decision-making through business analytics, reporting and tools, etc.
The ICCC at Ahmedabad was inaugurated in February 2018. A dedicated four-floor building, the ICCC has been designed to monitor city operations by integrating data from various smart city solutions installed for different departments of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. The functions of the various departments integrated with the ICCC pertain to municipal transport services, BRTS, e-governance, monsoon control room, traffic, fire control room and pollution levels. The other applications that have been integrated with the ICCC are e-town hall meetings, convergence of emergency services, water accountability at the community level, etc. A total of 31,125 IoT devices have been connected to the ICCC to enable 24×7 civic management.
Challenges and the way forward
Four years into its implementation, the Smart Cities Mission has gained significant traction. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has selected 100 cities since the launch of the mission in July 2015. The selected cities are finally beginning to make headway. All 100 cities have incorporated special purpose vehicles, set up city-level advisory forums and appointed project management consultants. However, the overall project implementation progress continues to be slow. Of the total projects in the pipeline, 2,331 projects involving an investment of more than Rs 1,148 billion are scheduled to be completed by 2023. Given the current progress of projects, these timelines seem a bit unrealistic and are most likely to be missed. Further, since the majority of the smart cities involve transforming the existing cities, retrofitting legacy infrastructure is a challenge. Delays in securing clearances and approvals for projects, the lack of coordination between different stakeholders, poor financial health of urban local bodies and the lack of investments in capacity building are some of the other key challenges. Although the gap in project financing is expected to be addressed through funding from municipal bonds, value capture financing and private participation, there still remain obstacles in securing long-term financing due to low cost recovery, high failure rates and high maintenance services required.
Nevertheless, over the past few years, the mission has achieved a level of maturity that will now allow the government to focus on accelerating its implementation. The cities are beginning to understand the international technologies and solutions. Thus, the completion rate is expected to improve in the next couple of years with several new projects and best practices to draw from.
Net, net, the Smart Cities Mission will go a long way in developing core infrastructure services in India’s urban centres. This also creates opportunities for various stakeholders such as project developers and equipment providers.