India’s Urban Future Strengthened with Technological Revolution

The Smart Cities or so called the ‘Next Generation Cities’ are the future of urbanisation. In India, Smart Cities Mission is one of the most ambitious initiatives taken up in recent years. Smart city plans developed for various cities include the use of advance technology for mapping, tracking, and management of urban resources, infrastructure, mobility, and so on.
One such essential element of the smart city plan is to create an Integrated Command and Control Centre (ICCC), a digital platform based on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) that gathers information from various departments and analyses it for better functioning of the city. The objective behind development of ICCC is to capture the complete information of city on a common platform that can be utilized for transforming the way civic authorities respond, simplify their operations, allow them to be more effective in their actions and keeping the city safe and secure. Integrated Command and Control Centre is the ‘smart’ element in Smart City Plans and undoubtedly is the turning point in urban development. ICCC majorly comprises a number of technologies and engineering functions that enable automated decision-making. A smart city thrives on interconnectedness of several services and applications. For example, door to door garbage collection service needs to have vehicle tracking system for its better implementation, disaster management service needs to be equipped with early warning systems with more accuracy, energy and water services must work on smart meters and smart grids, etc.

  • There are several key challenges that authorities face while implementation or post implementation of ICCC such as:
  • Manual Integrations – A key identification of a wrongly designed ICCC is when manual integration of multiple information feeds is done by analysts to provide the operators the tools they need. This can lead to an inefficient utilisation of resources and time.
  • Connection Gaps – In many cases, there is a gap between the exchange of information between command centre operators and field personnel. This results in the loss of ‘crucial’ time and a loosely prepared response.
  • Too much information – ICCC receives information from various sources which is not structured and hence leads to an overload. There is a need for an organized systematic integration and swift flow of information to give maximum useful information to the operators to take appropriate actions.
  • Low real-time incident analysis – Presently ICCC are being used primarily for post-incident analysis.
  • Increasing dependence of personnel – The response towards an incident may differ from one person to another based upon their skill sets and trainings. In the absence of a particular operator, there is nobody to respond to a particular type of incident. A well-planned ICCC must not have such dependencies and must ensure standard procedures with consistent outputs.
  • Lack of Authority – At the time of crisis, ICCC should serve as the nerve centre for the duration of the response. It should be perfectly self-possessed to connect all departments and stakeholders with the appropriate tools to provide a current understanding of the situation and support response efforts. However, it is observed that operators are not empowered to tackle an emergency, and cannot provide risk intelligence and authoritative decisions within time.

One of the successful examples of a smart city with centralized operations is Bhopal. Bhopal became the first Indian city to have a cloud based Common Integrated Data Centre, Disaster Recovery Centre and Integrated Command and Control Centre. In addition to Bhopal there are six other smart cities that have an operational ICCC – Gwalior, Jabalpur, Indore, Ujjain, Satna, and Sagar. The ICCC will enable the state of Madhya Pradesh to monitor multiple civic utilities and citizen services across seven cities through a central cloud. ICCC will be used for making cities smarter in terms of managing operations of the smart components deployed across the seven cities. This will finally benefit the citizens within the state of Madhya Pradesh.

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