The first safety and security audit of infrastructure in smart cities has revealed lack of uniformity in installation of closed circuit cameras at public places, insufficient lighting in streets rendering video footage useless, an immediate requirement for employment of artificial intelligence tools to use the footage generated and an urgent need to coordinate with police and civic agencies for crime prevention. The Centre has now issued guidelines to all the 100 smart cities to assess their public safety infrastructure and take corrective measures.
The public safety and security audit was ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi following a detailed discussion at a Cabinet meeting on January 4 over the gruesome incident of a young girl being dragged for some distance after being hit by a car. The closed circuit TV (CCTV) camera footage had helped the police piece together the sequence of events and track the friend of the victim who had abandoned her.
After PM Modi’s directions, the Union ministry of housing and urban affairs had tasked the Quality Council of India to conduct a public safety and security audit in 12 smart cities – Agartala, Agra, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Nagpur, New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), Pimpri Chinchwad, Prayagraj, Rourkela, Surat and Varanasi. The audit was done to assess the readiness of integrated command and control centres (ICCCs) in the smart cities pertaining to public safety and security.
According to sources, the audit has found that while all the cities have installed CCTVs, the quality of footage generated and the amount of data being stored do not make it useful for crime prevention or detection. Based on the audit findings, the ministry has framed detailed guidelines and directed all the 100 smart cities to sync their ICCCs. The cities have been asked to coordinate with police to map crime-prone spots to install CCTVs and ensure good quality footage generation through high definition cameras.
A senior official, who did not wish to be identified, said, “There were many instances where it was found that though CCTVs were installed, the footage was grainy or the face of the camera was turned away from the required area. This needs to be rectified immediately and the cities have been asked to assess and then take corrective measures.”
The biggest challenge is the amount of data being generated and stored at ICCCs. “It is impossible for a team to constantly monitor data and effectively mine it for crime prevention or detection. We have recommended employment of AI tools to store and mine the data,” said the official. The ministry has laid down that all cities would need to store video footage of spots monitored for 15 days in real time and up to 45 days online.