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Smart cities can make urban living safer

opinionGuest ColumnistsSmart cities can make urban living safer
Today, with over 50% of world population residing in urban sectors, achieving safety and security demands is not only critical but also very challenging. In particular, the challenges presented by urban environments are unique since they are directly related to the high population density and interrelated hazards. Therefore, the spectrum of a “smart” city must always encompass safety aspects of its citizens.

As governments all over the world strive to create “smart” cities, studies suggest that this initiative will eventually lead to increased safety as well. So, as a consequence of rapid evolution in technology, the concept of smart and safe cities is gaining momentum all over the globe.

According to a study by Wipro Africa, becoming safe is a natural aftermath of developing “smart” cities. Introduction of technology-driven solutions into the modern world can not only slash crime rates but also make public safety accessible and available to all. This can be amounted to the hi-tech surveillance, Central Monitoring System (CMS) tools and state-of-the-art communication capabilities.

Smart cities are primarily technology-centric and rely on large volumes of data being gathered by sensory-based technology. This collected data is then fed into intelligent networks which integrate with other such networks to form a “super network” that has access to real-time information of every aspect of a smart city—from traffic management, public transport and information technology to energy management, healthcare system and sanitation networks.

Use of technology such as CCTV, video surveillance, CMS systems and other such sophisticated tools effectively contribute to make cities smarter and safer. However, cities can be rendered safe only if such technologies are consciously applied in the broad security context. Such systems assist law enforcement to take quick actions in case of unconstitutional and unethical actions/practices. In particular, effective usage of Central Monitoring System (CMS) gives security agencies and government officials the centralized access to country’s telecommunication network. This is a vital step to elevate security in the digitized world since terrorism, in particular is often considered to be a byproduct of globalization. Therefore, globally, governments are convinced that monitoring and surveillance are the most effective means of ensuring safety and security of their citizens.

In India, the first round of Smart Cities Mission has been successfully launched by the present government and this magnanimous project intends to establish 100 ‘smart’ cities in the coming years.

In India, the first round of Smart Cities Mission has been successfully launched by the present government and this magnanimous project intends to establish 100 “smart” cities in the coming years. In other words, India plans to develop cities that have robust infrastructure, well connected transportation system and safety measures among other ‘smart’ features. To facilitate this, systems are being wisely devised to provide for the needs and requirements of the urban citizens. Along with this, authorities are taking progressive steps to invest in smarter and safer policies. Such policies are in-line with the four pillars of development- institutional, physical, social and economic infrastructure. Although, this is a rather long term goal, government along with the authorities must consistently work towards developing smart cities and also, regularly adding layers of ‘smartness’ to them.

Presently with CCTV and CMS in place, smart cities are getting even smarter. These novelties efficiently address emergencies that require real-time communication and collaboration across diverse departments and agencies. Moreover, CCTV cameras are closely connected to the CMS infrastructure that gives authorities the ability to instantly share information to accelerate response to crisis. For instance, in some South African cities, smart policing and surveillance has significantly reduced local crimes such as bank robberies and cash heists.

Today, mankind is blessed to have smart and safe cities that are being developed at a rapid pace. These cities can not only meet the challenges of exploding human population but at the same time, improve the safety of their residents. Today, emerging data leverage technology, CCTV equipments and sophisticated CMS tools promise to provide insights into public safety, traffic management and overall, city planning that was previously improbable. With the help of such new-fangled technological advancements, key officials and administrators can use data-centric decision making. This will effectively enable smart cities to safeguard and protect their citizens against threat, both external and internal.

Author is Director of AnG India


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