Extensive and robust optical fibre connectivity lies at the core of smart city development. Optical fibre cable (OFC) has several applications in a smart city, including facilitating smart grids for enhanced energy efficiency, developing a smart health ecosystem, and enabling efficient sensor networks to improve public services and infrastructure. This, in turn, can enable services such as Wi-Fi, video surveillance and security, smart urban infrastructure, and smart mobility and management across the city. At a recent tele.net conference, Pradeep Kumar Agarwal, advisor, Gurugram Smart City, and Annirudhha Shahapure, chief knowledge officer, Pune Smart City, shared their views on OFC requirements and the progress made in their respective smart cities. Some of the key takeaways from their presentations…

 

Pradeep Kumar Agarwal, advisor, Gurugram Smart City

Annirudhha Shahapure, chief knowledge officer, Pune Smart City

Pune Smart City

Pune Smart City has been focusing on various areas such as solid waste management, smart mobility, environment and energy, water supply, security, health and education. To this end, Pune Smart City has deployed around 50 flood sensors and 50-60 environment sensors. The smart city has around 136 emergency call boxes through which citizens can directly contact the integrated command and control centres (ICCCs).

ICCC

Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited’s (PSCDCL) ICCCs enable the city administration and its stakeholders to make informed decisions with real-time data. Further, these ICCCs help in the delivery of effective governance by aggregating various data feeds from sensors and systems with the help of advanced dashboards. Pune Smart City is also leveraging these centres for help in disaster management and in generating quick and effective responses to emergency situations. Pune Smart City has inbuilt GIS-based tracking and heat-mapping technologies to help locate and visualise targets for decision-making.

In order to control the Covid-19 crisis, PSCDCL’s ICCCs were converted into central Covid-19 war rooms to coordinate 24×7 with the 15 local war rooms in the ward offices. This helped the city administrators in effectively managing home isolation tracking, contact tracing, ambulance tracking, and co-morbidity survey, and in defining hotspots and containment zones.

Placemaking

Placemaking focuses on transforming a neglected, underused space by engaging citizens and creating a themed space by using recycled or unusual materials, and maintaining or creating green cover. PSCDCL’s placemaking initiatives have helped in offering residents a new hub. Key design ideas include unique identity creation, branding, and developing sustainable neighbourhoods.

OFC-enabled services

Surveillance and security

Pune Smart City has been incorporating technologies such as integrated surveillance systems for safety and security through ICCCs. These high-tech surveillance cameras are connected via OFC and have sensors that can sense suspicious activity, the source of which can be detected through the OFC network.

Smart infrastructure

PSCDCL’s stakeholders are focused on building smart infrastructure, connected through internet of things, that can autonomously perform preset actions. Thus, with fibre optics, urban infrastructure can be connected to city facilities and be transformed into smart buildings. These buildings would be equipped to provide centralised telecom services, and security, climate control and lighting systems.

Public utility services

Pune Smart City is integrating information and communications technology with public utilities such as water, gas, electricity, health services, fire services and police communications. To this end, a reliable high-speed fibre network can facilitate real time communications, making these utilities more interconnected and efficient.

Challenges in deployment of OFC

PSCDCL faces several challenges in deploying OFC across its cities. According to stakeholders, one of the most pressing issues is the non-uniform implementation of the Right of Way (RoW) Rules, 2016. This has led to an increase in the overall project costs and caused unnecessary delays in getting approvals. Further, the rising cost of fibre and its accessories needs to be controlled and subsidised to enable large-scale fibre deployment. Moreover, un-coordinated development activities such as road expansion and laying of electrical cables are being undertaken by multiple agencies and private contractors. This results in frequent cuts in the cables, depreciating cable life and increasing operating costs for service providers.

Potential measures

According to PSCDCL, in order to effectively address these challenges, it is necessary that the concerned authorities play the role of facilitators and forge collaborations wherever needed. They should be a part of the stakeholders’ group and leverage the benefits of fiberisation and digitalisation. Further, there is an immediate need to create a national fibre authority to ensure the rationalisation of RoW costs and to shorten approval timelines. The government should also encourage fibre service providers who can play the role of neutral hosts and offer fibre to telecom operators on a non-discriminatory basis. There is a need to promote the shared infrastructure approach.

Gurugram Smart City

Gurugram Smart City planned an OFC backbone network for the entire area of the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), which comprises Gurugram and Manesar. The smart city has planned a fibre network stretching over 600 km to provide the necessary connectivity for surveillance equipment to be deployed across 358 locations, government buildings, police stations and other smart city services. To this end, the smart city has deployed about 400 km of OFC to connect all CCTV locations, government buildings, etc. The GMDA fibre was laid by Indus Towers, STL and ATC, and will be maintained by them for 21 years. Subcities have been allotted to each of the agencies, wherein they have connected around 300 buildings. The network is currently in the operations and maintenance phase.

Further, the city has made a three-tier captive OFC backbone infrastructure, which comprises access rings, aggregation rings, and coding with dense wavelength division multiplexing. It is an intelligent transport management system (ITMS) backbone on which the GMDA has around 193 functional points of presence (PoPs), and around 1,076 live cameras for the purpose of surveillance and traffic monitoring. The smart city also has around 35 police stations connected with fibre.

Public safety and adaptive traffic management

The GMDA is implementing a CCTV-based public safety and adaptive traffic management system in Gurugram and Manesar, in consultation with the Gurugram Police Department. The city is divided into six subcities. A ground-level survey of the city is being carried out to identify locations for the installation of CCTV cameras. Further, Gurugram Smart City is deploying fixed, red light violation detection (RLVD), automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) and SVD cameras. At present, ANPR and RLVD cameras have been made operational at 22 major sites. The GMDA has proposed to deploy 1,200 cameras across 222 locations in Phase I, followed by around 800 cameras in Phase II. Of the 222 sites being covered in Phase I, 200 sites under the CCTV project and 15 sites under the pilot project are operational, and work on the remaining sites is in progress.

Centralised Integrated Water Management System

In August 2020, the GMDA awarded a pilot project for the equitable distribution and control of water on its pipeline network. The project is being carried out on a 1,200 mm pipeline between Basai and Dhanwapur on around 38 underground tanks (UGT) belonging to both the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram and private owners. The project involves the installation of flow meters, level sensors and flow control devices at all the UGT locations.

Future plans

In financial year 2022, the GMDA is planning to: set up a smart parking system, a water system and an ITMS; provide data centre connectivity to buildings on the optical fibre network and other important locations; create Wi-Fi hotspots; advertise at bus shelters through ICCCs; and conduct 5G trials.

Challenges and the way forward

A key challenge in deploying OFC infrastructure in smart cities is attaining RoW approvals from different authorities. Further, the presence of a large number of manholes in the cities to cover multiple PoPs and the need to maintain service-level agreements during fibre faults are also affecting OFC deployment. Given the issues associated with smart city development, the future trend will be cooperation between institutions across different fields in the value chain.