The introduction of technologies such as integrated command and control centres (ICCCs), intelligent traffic management system (ITMS) and smart mobility solution platforms has been pivotal in improving urban mobility. It has improved access to public transportation, enhanced walkability and upgraded the quality of public spaces. With the increasing number of road accidents resulting in severe injuries and fatalities, solutions are being sought to improve vehicular and operational safety, thereby improving road safety and reducing the risk of collisions. In order to manage swelling populations and growing congestion, innovation needs to be a top priority for authorities, who could utilise big data to make smarter decisions for better results.
ICCC and ITMS solutions
Aiming to develop 100 cities through technolog innovation and a new holistic urban development model, India’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launched its flagship Smart Cities Mission in 2015. Since then, many cities have successfully adopted digital infrastructure. The most prevalent of these are ICCCs, sensors for measuring traffic, and smart poles that perform multiple sensing, as well as surveillance and networking functions. ITMS applications have also helped improve the operational efficiency of cities by reducing operating costs while improving service levels. Cities are also becoming cleaner with the help of ICCC monitoring through CCTV cameras, with instances of garbage throwing, littering, public urination and night-time garbage burning being reduced.
As of March 2023, of the 100 existing ICCCs, 30 are working on traffic management and transportation issues using tools such as adaptive traffic control system (ATCS), ITMS, red light violation detection (RLVD) and automatic number plate recognition system (ANPR).
In an effort to employ technological solutions that enhance integrated mobility, improve road safety and facilitate congestion-free traffic flow, Jammu city, on March 13, 2023 inaugurated its ICCC as the nerve centre of civic operations and traffic management. The project involves a chain of 600 cameras as part of an ITMS to track vehicular traffic and related violations in the city. It is a pivotal step that will help authorities control vehicular flow and catch violators. An ATCS, which automatically detects violators such as those jumping a red light and generates an e-challan, is being deployed in the city. Once fully operational, it will reduce the waiting time at traffic signals by almost half. The state has completed 11 crucial projects worth Rs 1 billion, including the ICCC, an ITMS, as well as the unveiling and distribution of digital door number plates. Of these, seven were implemented by Jammu Smart City Limited, three were implemented under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, and one under the Jammu Municipal Corporation. The ITMS will include ANPR, electronic enforcement system, RLVD and speed violation detection, video incident detection system and emergency call boxes.
In January 2023, RailTel Corporation of India Limited received a work order from the Department of Revenue and Disaster Management of Puducherry to design, develop, supply, install, test, commission, operate and manage the city’s ICCC for a period of five years. The estimated value of the work order is Rs 1.7 billion. Besides the ICCC, the project includes data centre disaster recovery, on-street parking management, an ITMS, the creation of an online or mobile phone-based platform to facilitate tourists and visitors, a city-level application and a smart dashboard, smart poles with CCTV, Wi-Fi, air quality monitoring and digital billboards.
With the objective of reducing accidents and rigidly monitoring highways, Maharashtra, in March 2023, announced the installation of an ITMS on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. The state-of-the-art system will be used to act against individuals who do not observe lane discipline. Furthermore, India and South Korea, on November 30, 2022 signed an agreement for a Rs 15 billion loan from the Republic of Korea’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund for establishing an ITMS on the Nagpur-Mumbai Expressway with the objective of enhancing traffic management efficiency; improving toll management efficiency through the establishment of a toll collection system; and establishing, operating and maintaining a sustainable integrated traffic system via transfer of technology from the Republic of Korea.
National Capital Region
Under the state government’s direction, the Greater Noida Authority will implement a “safe city” by the end of 2023 to help improve the city’s traffic situation. With the implementation of security and traffic management systems and the safe city project, the city is likely to see an improvement not only in traffic management, but also in crime mitigation. In February 2023, the state government proposed an ITMS project at an initial cost of Rs 480 million.
Furthermore, leveraging the learnings from the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway, an intelligent transportation system and an advanced traffic management system have been deployed on the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway. The aim is to provide emergency assistance within 10 minutes of any accident or incident on the highway. The National Highways Authority of India has deployed cameras at every kilometre of the stretch to record all movement on the highway as well as 500 metres to its left and right. Powerful high resolution devices and cameras have been deployed, capable of generating clean images even at night. In addition, speed cameras, speed radars and automatic violation detection systems have also been installed at 10 km intervals.
In Karnataka, Mangaluru has been at the forefront of ICCC implementation. It is the first city in Karnataka to introduce an ICCC as well as a waste management system based on QR codes. As of December 2022, Mangaluru Smart City Limited has installed 15 surveillance cameras and smart poles, which act as the core components of smart city infrastructure. The smart poles are wired to the ICCC, helping authorities track various services, including traffic management. In the first 11 months of 2022, the traffic police booked a total of 108,000 cases and collected fines worth Rs 55 million. As much as Rs 59 million was collected in 2021, and Rs 42 million in 2020.
In addition, as of December 2022, the Directorate of Urban Land Transport is executing a project involving state-of-the-art Japanese smart traffic signal control systems to ease bottlenecks. Japan’s MODERATO (Management of Origin Destination Related Adaptation for Traffic Optimisation) technology is being implemented at 29 major junctions in Bengaluru under the area traffic control system. The project envisions an overall reduction in delays through automatic control of optimal signal timing based on the traffic volume, measured by sensors deployed on the roadside. The contract for the implementation of the project was awarded to Japan-based Nagoya Electric Works Limited at a cost of around Rs 700 million, in August 2021. As of December 2022, preparatory civil work for signal installation at the 29 junctions is in progress. The project is estimated to be completed by June 2023. It is expected to reduce the queue length at junctions by 30 per cent and delays by nearly 13 per cent.
Smart mobility solutions
Rapid urbanisation and increasing motorisation are leading to the inevitable challenges of congestion, air pollution and longer travel times, fuelling India’s need for smart mobility solutions. To deal with this, many states are evolving themselves into smart cities with the help of electro-mobility solutions and mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) applications. Smart mobility, therefore, presents itself as a revolutionary approach and a defining feature of smart cities by providing affordability, multiple transportation choices, more frequent transit systems, on-demand mobility solutions, ride sharing, vehicle sharing, electric vehicles, provisions for biking and walking, and more.
Last-mile connectivity is one of the biggest challenges faced by India’s mobility landscape. To resolve this issue, authorities are increasingly moving towards integrating public transport with other transit services such as personal rapid transit, para-transport, feeder buses and electric rickshaws, as well as non-motorised solutions, thereby making public transport more viable.
As of February 2023, the Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation has announced plans to introduce Metrolite services in Ayodhya and Mathura, and a water metro service in Varanasi. The state is also planning to construct the Lucknow east-west corridor, and metro train services in Gorakhpur, Jhansi, Bareilly and Meerut.
Furthermore, with the aim of building a single-interface payment system for all modes of public transport, the centre has launched the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC). The objective is to help users make payments for various transit segments such as buses and metro, as well as para-transit services such as parking, tolls and retail shopping, through a single interface. Following this announcement, the Transport Department of Kolkata launched its own One Nation One Card service, an NCMC that can be used across various modes of transport throughout the country such as buses, suburban trains, metros, ferries and trams, facilitating seamless movement.
In September 2022, the Transport Department of Delhi and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, in association with the Toyota Mobility Foundation and World Resources Institute India, launched the Delhi edition of the Station Access and Mobility Program (STAMP) to improve multimodal integration to and from the metro. The programme aims to create a MaaS platform that will allow commuters to plan their public transport journey across different transit modes on a single interface. Additionally, STAMP is working to leverage existing last-mile services, such as shared mobility, autos and e-rickshaws, to provide more efficient on-demand services to commuters.
Smart security, surveillance and crowd management systems
Planning, monitoring and managing crowds have become fundamental responsibilities of city management authorities. As a consequence, crowd management is a sprawling research and development area that includes theoretical models, simulation tools, as well as various internet of things and artificial intelligence support systems. In March 2023, the Tiruchirappalli City Municipal Corporation set up an integrated mobile command centre for the city under the SCM for surveillance, crowd and disaster management and information dissemination, jointly with other stakeholders including the police and the district administration.
As a part of this mission, a light commercial vehicle was customised into a mobile control room equipped with computers, cameras and a public address system, to monitor IT-enabled civic services. The vehicle is also meant to serve as a war room during emergencies, for dissemination and gathering of information, which can be spontaneously shared with authorities including law enforcement agencies at different locations. During surveillance, officials and VIPs can travel in this vehicle. Computers in the mobile command centre can be used to track the drinking water supply status by coordinating with the supervisory control and data acquisition control room at the corporation’s main office.
Meanwhile, Kolkata authorities, in January 2023, installed a network of 1,147 high definition CCTV cameras along with 100 CCTV sets on the campus of the annual Magh Mela festival, along with a team of IT experts, as a part of the Magh Mela police’s high-tech surveillance plan. A team of 60 experts worked round the clock on the surveillance and crowd management plan at the ICCC that was set up at the Mela ground, to maintain a close watch on the activities of visitors and vehicles entering or exiting the venue. Similarly, an MoU was signed between National Highway Logistics Management Limited and the Katra Development Authority in August 2022 for the creation of a one-of-a-kind intermodal station for devotees visiting the Vaishno Devi temple to provide services such as a helipad, a railway station, a bus stand, an auto stand, parking, five-star hotels and other modern-day facilities, all at one place.
Leapfrogging into the future
The rise of smart mobility and intelligent traffic systems has facilitated a greater degree of flexibility and resilience in responding to crisis situations. ICCCs, created mainly for surveillance and monitoring of citywide operations, became nerve centres for Covid-19 monitoring and control during the pandemic. As the next step towards building smart cities, ICCCs and smart solutions need to go beyond traffic management and mobility and help in monitoring smart education, smart mobility, smart healthcare, 24×7 water, sewerage, sanitation and any kind of service that impacts the lives of citizens. In the future, Tier II and Tier III cities are likely to focus on enhancing the role of ICCCs and ITMS for better analysis and greater data sharing during outbreaks and emergencies. India’s evolving intelligent infrastructure and digital capabilities are all set to transform the way India commutes in the coming years. Decreased road congestion, lower carbon emissions, wider discoverability, reduced travel time and ease of travel will greatly improve the quality of life for citizens of the nation.