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India’s Smart City 2020 Mission: what’s been achieved in security

India’s Smart City 2020 Mission: what’s been achieved in security
A budget of US $6.86 billion was approved for a period of five years starting 2016. Having reached the end of this period, and the is almost at the end of the 2020 mission period, let’s take a look at what has been achieved.
The Indian government’s plan to build 100 smart cities is coming to its initial deadline in the coming year, 2020. There is currently much talk about how far things have come as analysts and media struggle to look at the details and search for information in a place where that itself is one of the most difficult commodities to access.

The most obvious conclusion appears to be that the Narendra Modi-led government will miss its deadline to complete the project next year. The government’s own survey shows that $4.5 trillion infrastructure investment by 2040. Most of these have to be in the cities as, by 2030, almost 40 percent of the population will be in the urban areas.

Keeping all this in perspective, a budget of US $6.86 billion was approved for a period of five years starting 2016. Having reached the end of this period, and the is almost at the end of the 2020 mission period, let’s take a look at what has been achieved.

What’s the situation now?

Government projects in a lot of countries tend to be slow, but perhaps India is one of the slowest. Although there is much talk about smart cities, the citizens are yet to see any change on the ground in terms of its impact. The traffic in major cities continues to be incredibly difficult, pollution levels are at hazardous levels in many cities, the public transport system is yet to see any difference in terms of convenience, etc. The list could go on.

As far as numbers are concerned, only about half of the approved budget has been allocated till now, according to a report from the local daily, The Hindu. From these allocated funds, only three-fourth has been released for use. Again, from this released funds, about 36 percent have been utilized so far. To be more clear, about $2.43 billion has been released and $880 million utilized.  

Where have things worked?

Of what has already been done, the capital city of Delhi, cities in states like Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have fared better on average. The Gujarat state has completed 20 smart city projects. Madhya Pradesh has completed about 19 projects. States like Haryana and Punjab, which remain at the lowest rank in terms of implementation, have about one project completed. Several states haven’t completed a single project yet.

The government, on its part, has justified the lack of pace by saying that there is bound to be at least a 16-18 months’ time period for a project to take off once it's been initiated. However, even by this benchmark, the work is slow, with 29 percent of the proposals remaining at detailed report phase, according to some reports.

What has happened in the security sector?

According to a report from Infoholic Research, over than $300 million had been allocated for surveillance-related activities with most of the projects centered around installation of surveillance cameras, city-wide surveillance systems including patrol vehicles, software, and analytics for traffic violations, and integration with an Integrated Command and Control Center.

Only a few cities have proposals and projects completed with advanced solutions that incorporate video analytics, facial recognition, night vision cameras, and high-definition Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) cameras.

“As per the government data, Lucknow [city in the state of Uttar Pradesh] has allocated the most budget for Smart City Surveillance System with augmenting of existing Control Centre amounting to INR 486.8 crore [$69.5 million] which includes modern police kiosks,” the report said. “Explicit mentions of next-generation technologies include Drone Surveillance in Kochi [state of Kerala], automatic facial recognition from a criminal database and behavioral monitoring in Vellore [state of Tamil Nadu].”

Major projects in security

While things are still yet to be visible in many places, progress has been made in the security segment at a slow pace. Here is a list of projects that have already been implemented in public security, according to Infoholic.
  1. In 2017, the Bihar state government has sanctioned a project in its capital city of Patna with a project value of roughly $20 million for installing smart poles with notification systems and security cameras for city surveillance. More than 300 cameras have been installed in the city by different agencies, including traffic police. A proposal of the Patna Police for the installation of 591 cameras and 31 license plate recognition systems has already been implemented. 
  2. The Maharashtra state government equipped Nashik city with 4000 cameras with 800 to be dedicated for monitoring vehicular traffic, especially road mishaps and hit-and-run cases. 
  3. Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation has been installing 500 surveillance cameras under the Smart City project. License plate recognition systems are expected to be used here to crack down on rash driving and vehicle theft. 
  4. In Raipur, the capital city of the state of Chhattisgarh, around 372 surveillance cameras have been installed at strategic locations for better surveillance, ‘Intelligent’ (automated) traffic signals have also been put up at 40 locations, besides 36 automatic number plate recognition cameras at six locations and red-light violation detection devices at 23 locations. 
  5. Bhubaneswar Smart City project in the state of Odisha has initiated plants for surveillance with 4,000 high-end intelligent cameras with red light violation detection and speed violation detection system. 
  6. Rajkot Eye Way Project in Gujarat has made quite some progress as well. In the first phase of the project, more than 500 cameras have been installed at 107 locations. In addition, at 7 locations ANPR/RLVD cameras have been installed to monitor traffic activities and the system of e-challan [electronic fine collection system] has been started. In the second phase, a total of 109 locations have been identified to install 277 Fix Cameras, 109 PTZ Camera and in 10 other locations, a total of 84 ANPR/RLVD will be installed. 
  7. Cochin Smart Mission Ltd (CSML) in Kerala is implementing ICSS under its smart city project. integrated crime surveillance system (ICSS) across 135 locations. 
  8. Jalandhar in Punjab State has a project under which 1250 surveillance cameras would be installed at 250 locations. 
  9. The Maharashtra state’s Thane has 400 surveillance cameras installed across 10 wards of the city. 
  10. Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) in Gujarat will install 3,148 surveillance cameras. The work is implemented under the Suman Eye Project and is expected to cost $2 million.

The bottom line

In short, there can be no doubt that the Indian government will miss its deadline to make 100 smart cities by 2020. However, the good news is that despite the slow pace, there are projects being implemented.  

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