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Safe cities: India has a long way to go

A safe city is a smart city. That is true, since the journey towards a safer city begins with effective surveillance and in today's paradigm, that includes a lot of technology.

By Goutam Das        Last Updated: January 23, 2017  | 15:39 IST
Safe cities: India has a long way to go

A safe city is a smart city. That is true, since the journey towards a safer city begins with effective surveillance and in today's paradigm, that includes a lot of technology. In many ways, it begins with  simple video monitoring but evolves into a more sophisticated system. Some Indian cities have just started - Jaipur Development Authority, for instance, has installed 350 cameras in 35 locations in the city. These are high definition five megapixel cameras that can zoom unto 100 meters to identify objects or people. Live feed plays on these video walls and records are maintained for a month. That said, India has a long way to go. According to some experts, there is no city in the country which has a blueprint for surveillance and the standards mostly do not exist.

A report released last week by The Smart Cities Council, a consortium of smart city practitioners, on the 'Role of Surveillance in Securing Cities', says that the global video surveillance industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12 per cent over 2015-2021 to total of $49 billion by 2021. In comparison, the current Indian market is just short of a billion dollars but is projected to grow higher than the global average at 13 per cent from 2016-2022. "The shift towards IP surveillance, gradual move towards non-fragmentation and lack of standardisation broadly characterise the Indian video surveillance market," the report states.    

During the launch of the report in Delhi, safe city practitioners had the following advice for cities beginning to think of such solutions:

The cost of the CCTV camera is just a small fraction of the overall cost of implementing a video surveillance solution. A majority of the expenses are in storage. Planners need to keep this in mind while designing their solution, as also the camera configuration.
The starting point is an audit - cities may have sporadically deployed cameras here and there. Their condition and utility needs to be ascertained.

Decide on the areas where video is a priority; it is nearly impossible to have the entire city covered at one go, so plan implementation in phases. Jaipur Development Authority, for instance, installed 350 cameras in three phases.

Policies need to be defined on where the cameras are placed and who has access to it.
Since coverage of an entire city with cameras isn't feasible, planners need to think of crowd sourcing videos. Pictures and videos recorded by citizens can be uploaded to a designated website. If such feed is successfully "pulled" from citizens, it doesn't add to incremental costs.  

Finally, cities need to have a convergence plan. For safer cities, every stakeholder, which includes many government departments and private entities, need to speak the same language. That is easier said than done.

 

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