5 Ways in which Smart City Control Rooms Are Helping The COVID Crisis
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When the Smart City Initiative was announced a few years ago, the idea behind it was to develop world-class Indian cities that are powered by technology, with the mission of improving the overall quality of life. One of the features of this initiative was the creation of advanced Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCC). These served as the backbone for managing the new tech-powered infrastructure in the city. Today, these same resources are being used to support the fight against COVID-19.
Across the country, smart city resources are being deployed to combat the deadly virus. Through the use of sensors, technology, and the data mined from them, state and central governments are using this to keep a check on how their efforts are paying off. It is also being used to monitor movements across states, and determine whether lockdown guidelines are being adhered to. Here are some of the ways in which smart city technologies are helping out:
Creation Of War Rooms
Smart cities are well equipped with equipment such as video walls, and advanced video feeds of the region which has come together to create war rooms. In Pimpri Chinchwad, close to Pune, one of the highly affected areas in Maharashtra, the war room uses a strong network of surveillance cameras along with location-based services, and analytical tools. These war rooms are also central zones where information and updates are disseminated to the public. Similarly, in Bengaluru, the war rooms are used to monitor quarantine facilities and draw up containment plans.
Advanced Surveillance Systems
High-quality CCTV cameras which were initially fitted across smart cities were used for safety, and often to prevent crimes. These are now used to monitor citizen’s movements, and ensure social distancing guidelines are being followed. Besides this, surveillance systems through drones are also used to keep an eye on traffic, and vehicular movement.
Communication With The Public
Through the information collated by surveillance and location-based systems, government officials analyze this to send out periodic updates to the public. By constantly engaging with them through dedicated apps like PCMC Smart Sarathi app and portals, they are able to control the spread of large scale panic, as well as inform them of essential services that are functional. In Karnataka, under the Mangaluru Smart City, they have set up a dedicated call centre to advise citizens who are self-quarantined, along with addressing other grievances.
Providing Telemedicine Services
In smart cities like Mangaluru, Nagpur, Kanpur, and Agra, telemedicine services through centralized portals have become highly beneficial to denizens. Dedicated medical personnel are available around the clock at command and control centres, as well as through specially created portals to attend to patients virtually. This has been extremely helpful at this time, to help citizens access medical help, without having to step out. It has also eased the burden on healthcare systems and freed up hospital beds.
Predictive Analytics and Location-Based Analytics
One way of monitoring citizen’s movements is through the use of heat maps. Governments are actively using this technology along with geo-fencing to keep tabs on movement, especially those of suspected cases, or residents of containment zones. They are also using this to monitor periodic health status. Technologies like GIS have also been used to map each positive COVID-19 case. Further, GPS systems are deployed to track health care workers in real-time and draw up containment plans.
Through this, smart city technology is definitely living up to its vision of improving the quality of life. In fact, cities like Tirupati are using their command centres as a means to facilitate deliveries of essential goods and groceries. The war room in PCMC is also used as a means to provide free WiFi services to patients who have been quarantined in order to support them.
These methods have been appreciated by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the nodal ministry for 100 smart cities and have been compiled into a list of best practices for fighting COVID-19. By deploying innovative and technology-driven ideas, we are hopeful that these will be implemented across the country, with modifications to suit the requirements of each particular state. With this, we will be able to efficiently and effectively monitor cases and movements and help flatten the curve.