India’s smart cities are playing a major role in the technology-led battle against COVID-19
Technologies like IoT/ sensors, tele-healthcare, data and analytics have been proving themselves most effective in this crisis
“As seen in many countries across the globe, smart cities in India too have been playing a major role and leading the way in the country’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic,” says GlobalData, a data and analytics company.
Sandeep Kolakotla, technology analyst at GlobalData, comments that, “Despite delays in the country’s smart city projects due to paucity of funds, smart cities like Agra, Chandigarh, Vadodara, Bengaluru and Kakinada have been able to effectively tap technologies like IoT/sensors, tele-healthcare, data and analytics, and contribute significantly to India’s fight against COVID-19.”
Agra Smart City, for instance, launched a tele-video consultation service, which allows citizens to book an appointment with healthcare professionals, and even download online prescriptions from a dedicated website/ app. Agra Smart City has tied up with the city administration and the Agra Police to set up a control room for monitoring social distancing compliance at various locations via video surveillance as well. It has also started using AI-based analytics on the surveillance data to generate alerts, which are configured via an app on the mobile phones of field staff.
Agra has likewise been working with Gaia Smart Cities, an IoT start-up, to leverage its technology platform, including a COVID-19 self-assessment app, built on Microsoft's Azure to track COVID-19 cases. The platform, enables citizens to provide self-assessment of their health risk, and helps city administrators track responses by pin code and take preventive action. The collated data also provides real-time reports, helping authorities to monitor trends across the city.
The Bengaluru and Kakinada smart cities, on the other hand, have launched data dashboards, which will act as a single source for all pandemic-related action and measures, as well as data collection. The data dashboard will enable the government to monitor people under quarantine, and their contacts. Additionally, the platform will also help the authorities keep a track of frontline workers like medical personnel on field or at hospitals, compiled in a city and district-wise database.
Another smart city, Varanasi has deployed drones to spray sanitiser around COVID-19-sensitive parts of the city under the Smart Cities Mission (SCM). The city is also making use of CCTV surveillance and GIS technology through a dedicated command and control centre set up under SCM, to keep a tight vigil on crowd movement during the lockdown period.
Kolakotla concludes, “While it is still early to measure the level of success that India’s smart cities have achieved in handling the current COVID-19 crisis, there is no doubt in concluding that they have certainly led the country’s fight back through innovative use of technologies, and setting the stage for other cities to follow suit and get smarter.”