The main objective of the Smart Cities Mission is to create cities that provide core infrastructure, improve the quality of life, and promote a clean and sustainable environment. Under this initiative, the government aims to tackle the challenges of overpopulation, and bridge infrastructural and connectivity gaps in cities across the country. A smart city comprises three layers – the application layer, the information highway and the core. The core includes the command and control centre (CCC) and data centres. It is responsible for analysing the data that is relayed from the application layer to take informed decisions, making it an integral part of a smart city’s digital infrastructure.

Data centres are required to provide a common platform to store information from diverse sources like city operation centres and applications. The information collected can be analysed to take better decisions and improve the functioning of smart cities. The trends inferred from this data will assist in the development and delivery of projects. Data centres need to be scalable and should be able to host a greater number of applications and services without compromising on the effective management of smart cities.

A disaster management system is also required in all smart cities to collect critical data of a city from various sources and ana­lyse it to predict probable disasters. A disaster management system should also have capabilities to protect life and property in the event of a disaster. It should be able to quickly disseminate relevant information to all concerned agencies and individuals. The predictive analysis capabilities of such systems should be leveraged to re­du­­ce the response time. Further, these systems shou­ld be interoperable between cities.

Progress so far

A number of cities have been taking steps to strengthen their digital infrastructure and many of them have deployed CCCs. As of June 2018, integrated CCCs (ICCCs) have been made operational in nine cities – Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Pune, Nag­pur, Rajkot, Visakhapatnam, Bho­pal and Kakinada. These centres control and monitor water and power supply, sanitation, traffic movement, integrated building management, city connectivity and internet infrastructure (data centres) from a central location.

The ICCC of the Naya Raipur smart city was inaugurated on June 14, 2018. The centre has integrated various systems of different stakeholders in the city to enhance safety and provide better public services. The ICCC can monitor e-governance, traffic management, security, building management, utility management and other services. Citizens can lodge comp­laints regarding electricity, water and ot­h­er services on the helpline numbers and obtain information regarding incoming and outgoing vehicles, their number, speed and location, etc. IL&FS, in partnership with Schneider Electric, has been selected as the master system integrator to design, develop, operate and maintain the city’s smart governance applications, city surveillance system, utility management system, intelligent transport management system, ICCC, data centres and integrated building management system.

The Tamil Nadu state government is planning to set up ICCCs in 10 cities, whi­ch have been selected for the Smart City Mission, to enhance citizen safety and sec­urity, and provide better public services. Th­e­se cities are Tiruchi, Coim­batore, Ma­du­­rai, Thanjavur, Tiru­nelveli, Tirup­pur, Thanjavur, Vellore, Salem and Thoothu­kudi. These projects entail real-time monitoring of the water supply and sewerage system through supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA); and citizen services such as water connection billing and payment, grievances, and collection of property taxes. They also involve automation of the building permission process, city surveillance and traffic management, etc.

Meanwhile, Bhopal Smart City Deve­lop­ment Corporation Limited has set up the first cloud-based common integrated data centre, disaster recovery centre and ICCC. It has been powered by Hewlett-Packard [HP] Enterprise’s universal internet of things (IoT) platform. The data centre will leverage information and communication technology (ICT) to benefit the residents of smart cities in Madhya Pra­desh. With this deployment, the Ma­dhya Pradesh government will be able to monitor and administer multiple utilities and citizen services across seven smart cities – Bhopal, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Indore, Ujjain, Satna and Sagar. A state-wide monitoring facility will result in significant cost savings.

The Dharamsala smart city project is also ready to take off. In June 2018, the Dharamsala Municipal Corporation anno­un­ced its plan to float tenders worth Rs 440 million to set up an ICCC, among other things. The state-of-the-art building is expected to be built at a cost of Rs 150 million. It will house the Dharamsala Municipal Corporation and serve as the headquarter of the smart city project.

Bhubaneswar’s first CCC, the Bhu­ba­neswar Operations Centre, was inaugurated recently. The centre has a massive video wall more than 100 feet long and will be used to monitor a large volume of CCTV footage, highly sophisticated sensor data, em­ergency services, etc. The monitoring sys­­tem will ensure surveillance of the public transport system and will be used for effective emergency response management in the city. The command centre will also mo­n­itor functions such as traffic management, incident management, city surveillance, em­er­­gency services and disaster management.

The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Cor­po­ration is all set to establish a CCC at its head office. The centre will monitor relief measures, and administration and developmental works across Hyderabad, particularly during the monsoon season and festivities. The CCC will also keep track of garbage vehicles, sweeping ma­chines, street lights and the biometric at­ten­dance system. For the better management of garbage vehicles, the CCC will provide the location of the vehicle, its speed, and loading and unloading points. The surveillance cameras of Hyderabad, Cybe­ra­bad and Rachakonda will also be synchronised with the CCC.

Further, Larsen & Toubro has been selected to design and implement the city management centre and ICCC for the city of Panaji. The first phase of the project will entail laying optic fibre cable(OFC) network, creating Wi-Fi hotspots, setting up an ICCC and installing 400 surveillance cameras. The ICCC is expected to be operational in the next four months and will be integrated with Panaji’s garbage management system and the Goa police control room.

The way forward

The development of CCCs is crucial for successfully deploying smart applications and services and ensuring efficient functioning of smart cities. Hence, a reliable and robust communications backbone is needed to ensure round-the-clock connectivity. An OFC network, which provides high speed and efficiency, is the best solution for these systems. CCCs have already become operational in a number of smart cities and many more cities under the Smart Cities Mission are expected to soon float tenders for the same. Data centres and disaster management systems are also key components of smart cities that analyse the large quantum of data collected from sensors and IoT devices to gain insights and take better informed decisions.

Net, net, the increasing demand for equipment, cloud services and OFC provides an immense opportunity for players in the telecom and technology domain. These are essential components needed to install digital infrastructure. This demand is expected to further increase as the majority of smart cities are yet to announce their digital transformation plans.