With the regular migration towards cities in search of better opportunities, the available city infrastructure like roads, water, sewerage, drainage & electricity etc. is getting stressed day by day. This calls for augmentation of physical infrastructure and optimum utilization of available infrastructure & resources. Further the management of infrastructure is done manually based on experience & local eco-system. This calls for frequent oral command/ feedback chain leading to stress & loss of productive time of officials & inefficiency. With the growth in spread & habitation of city, the conventional system becomes unmanageable & even unreliable.
Smart city is a step in the direction of managing public infrastructure in cities from a centralized location deploying Information & communication Technology (ICT) tools. This is expected to enhance the performance and quality of urban services such as energy, connectivity, transportation, utilities, governance and others. A smart city is a framework of ‘Intelligent Network’ of connected objects and machines that transmit data using communication technology to the Data centre/ cloud. In essence, ICCC (Integrated Command Control Centre) receive and manage data in real-time to help enterprises and residents make better decisions that shall improve the quality of life. These decisions can lead to the improvement of traffic congestion, energy disruption, Internet connectivity and other services while cutting costs.
Govt. of India has selected 100 cities to be developed as Smart Cities, but Gurugram does not figure in it. However, Gurugram Smart City project has been taken up by Haryana Govt. and has been planned & being implemented with structured approach across city for all services one by one. To aspire for quality live ability parameters, the following problem areas are to be identified& resolved –
- Adequate water supply
- Sanitation – Solid waste management
- IT connectivity & digitalization
- Affordable housing
- Safety & security of citizens
- Assured Electricity supply
- Efficient public transport
- Sustainable environment
- Health & education
To enable above objectives, the Smart city architecture shall have following five essential components.
- i) Integrated command & control centre (ICCC)
- ii) Data Centre/ Cloud & IP Security
iii) e-Governance & Citizen help desk
- iv) Communication Network Infrastructure.
- v) Smart infrastructure of utilities
The ICCC, Data Centre & e-Governance are the green field developments and are to be built as common ICT infrastructure at centralised location for administrative convenience. This facility shall be managed by officials from Police, utilities, infrastructure and citizen services under expert guidance of ICCC core team. ICCC shall follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for resolution of day to day problems in city.
The communication network is the backbone of any ICT infrastructure and more so for the smart city. The data is generated at Cross roads, notorious/ Crime prone locations, market streets, entry-exit points, control/ monitoring points in water distribution system at waysides, Sewage Treatment Plants, waste collection/ treatment, street lights, power supply distribution locations, bus stops, Govt. offices, service buildings, public Wi-Fi & many other locations generally not well covered by reliable commercial telecom network. The data generated by large no of CCTVs, Devices, sensors etc. needs to assimilate at data centre for processing & visualization in command and control centre reliably. This calls for building up a dedicated/ captive citywide telecom network, preferably managed by City administration.
The core infrastructure of Roads, water, sewerage, drainage &electricity etc. being essential services are governed provided and managed by Govt./ Utilities. The right of way (RoW) for these is generally considered leave facility and nominal/ nil charges are levied by civic authorities. On the other hand Telecom/ OFC cables are considered as commercial setup and good licence fee is taken. Having own OFC infrastructure is strategic strength of Telco’s in the highly competitive telecom market & therefore reluctance to share the OFC in city access network. Civic authorities saw it as revenue opportunity, once Telco’s approached them for RoW approval.
Against one/two other utility ducts along ROW, there are likely to be multiple telecom ducts and growing, constraining the ROW space. This results in frequent infringement in RoW space, & damage to existing assets/utilities. Therefore, management of ROW becomes a challenge & difficulty is faced in augmentation/ expansionof other utilities in future. If OFC is also treated like a core infrastructure & made available as a service at Government administered/comparative pricing, the multiplicity of OFC infrastructure can be avoided. Industry & Govt. need to work together for a workable model.
This approach of integrated OFC infrastructure in partnership with industry has seen envisaged in Gurugram, wherein the interested agencies have been empanelled through EOI process. The infrastructure provider (IP/TSP) lays 4 ducts, out of which he can use, 2 nos. as desired. One duct with OFC cable is made available to civic administration for smart city applications free of cost and one duct is spare under control of civic administration and can be released for market neutralization on revenue share basis if monopolistic tendencies surface. Reciprocally for cost neutralization, the Infrastructure Provider (IP) does not pay for ROW & cable pit space etc. Now the work/ O&M environment is like work being done for civic Administration, the Infrastructure Provider gets a smooth sail & all local issues resolved by civic bodies.
CCTV, Traffic management, parking, street lighting, Wi-Fi solutions, etc. are being provided to enhance safety & security. Smart management of water, Sewerage, Solid waste, Electricity supply shall improve the availability of these services. All Govt. offices & services departments/ centres shall be connected with Govt. network. Gurugram city is also mapped on GIS, which shall help integration of all services on physical platform. e-Governance & citizen help desk shall bring all civic & Govt. services to the doorsteps of citizens with online access. This shall also enable participation of citizens in Governance of city through feedback and suggestions mechanism.
Availability of shared OFC infrastructure shall facilitate unhindered& quick launch of advance telecom services like 5G, which requires connected towers, Fiber to offices, industry, institutions, businesses & home for broadband. This shall also obviate the frequent encroachment to civic infrastructure& avoid inconvenience to citizens.
(The author is Former President,
Railtel Corporation of India Ltd.)