Coronavirus | Municipalities using Smart Cities’ command centres turn into war rooms

Focus is on CCTV surveillance, traffic management, using heat maps to set up virus containment zones and real-time tracking of ambulances.

April 06, 2020 11:25 pm | Updated 11:25 pm IST - NEW DELHI

War rooms are taking steps such as CCTV surveillance of public places.

War rooms are taking steps such as CCTV surveillance of public places.

Municipalities implementing the Smart Cities Mission have started using their Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCCs) as “war rooms” for COVID-19 response, including carrying out CCTV surveillance of public spaces, using heat maps to set up virus containment zones and real-time tracking of ambulances.

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Senior officials of the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry, which oversees the Smart Cities Mission, have been coordinating the efforts of the cities, an official said. Of the 100 municipalities in the Smart Cities Mission, the ICCCs of 45 cities are “online” or operational, another official said.

The ICCCs set up under the Mission are meant to coordinate traffic management, surveillance, utilities and grievance redressal. Now, they are being used as a part of the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the official said.

Virtual training

“As COVID-19 war rooms, the ICCCs are implementing initiatives such as CCTV surveillance of public places, GIS mapping of COVID-positive cases, GPS tracking of healthcare workers, predictive analytics (heat maps) for virus containment across different zones of the city, virtual training to doctors and healthcare professionals, real-time tracking of ambulances and disinfection services and medical services through videoconferencing, tele-counselling and tele-medicine,” a statement from the Ministry said.

For example, Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry secretary Durga Shanker Mishra said in a tweet, Varanasi was using its ICCC as a war room for “24/7 surveillance, tracking and for making important announcements across the city.”

COVID-19 | Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

The Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited and the Pune Municipal Corporation had come together to develop an integrated data dashboard to map COVID-19 cases using geo-spatial systems. They then started monitoring the areas around the infected people and setting up buffer zones, it said.

“Using heat-mapping technologies and predictive analytics, the city administration will develop a containment plan and the containment zones get reflected on the dashboard,” the statement said, adding that the healthcare and quarantine facilities were also being tracked at the centre. The health of suspected cases and their contacts was also being tracked, it said.

The Surat Municipal Corporation had set up a public dashboard on its website to provide updates to residents. Information about cases, including spatial mapping of “affected areas”, was being provided to citizens, the Ministry said.

In Bengaluru, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike had set up a “war room” to “conduct surveillance on people within an 8 km radius of a confirmed patient, so as to contain the spread of the virus,” the Ministry said. The BBMP was also publishing a daily report on the cases — divided by date, zone, hospital, age and gender.

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