Smart Cities Take Shape

Two years after the Central government launched its flagship Smart City Mission, the cities have started smartening up. First off the blocks is Pune with its hi-tech command-and-control centre, which has been developed as the nerve centre for urban governance to centrally manage traffic, water and electricity supply and provide CCTV-based city surveillance.

The command-and-control centre is the first project being implemented across the smart cities. So far, all 20 cities, chosen in January 2016 after a meticulous all-India competition, have floated tenders for the centre. Pune has already rolled out six modules of this multi-crore command centre project. These include traffic management system, citizen feedback and emergency alert systems. Pune has planned the centre for not only effective city-level coordination but also as its citizen interface. At present, alerts are being sent on traffic to better manage the flow during peak office hours.

Pune and Nagpur would have fully functional command centres by the end of 2017. This would mean managing almost all municipal and city services centrally. The centre would manage CCTV based city surveillance, drone-based aerial surveillance, pan-city kiosks for municipal services including death and birth certificate registration, traffic signal violation system, automatic traffic management, parking lots, water and electricity supply. The command-and-control centres, which would cost the city between Rs.100 and Rs.500 crore, would have helplines to handhold citizens through all services.

Apart from Pune and Nagpur, three other cities which are in fairly advanced stages of command-and-control centre project rollout are Kakinada, Naya Raipur and Bhopal. All the command-and-control centres planned in the first batch of 20 cities would be functional by the end of the current financial year. The other smart cities, chosen in the subsequent rounds of challenge contests, are waiting for Bhopal to rollout its centre. “Bhopal's control centre would be the most expensive at Rs.500 crore.But the most unique aspect is that Bhopal is planning its centre in such a manner that it can be used by other cities as well. The investment is huge but the returns are expected to be immense.“

Private partnership is the key to effective implementation of Smart City Mission. As per ministry statistics, the private sector investments have been meeting the target in the first phase of implementation.

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