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Representative image (Photo; ANI)
Representative image (Photo; ANI)

Control  rooms  set  up  under  smart cities plan help tackle covid crisis

The centres in around 50 cities have been helping the administration cater to the needs of healthcare and logistics

With India slowly opening up for business, the control rooms set up under the marquee smart cities programme have become the nerve centres in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

These integrated command and control centres in around 50 cities have been repurposed as war rooms, and have been helping the civil administration cater to the needs of health care, logistics and lockdown monitoring in real time.

As the lockdown enters its third phase, India’s biggest cities that hold the key to economic revival have been classed as red zones, and need to be effectively supervised. With its cities and manufacturing hubs coming to a standstill, there is a need for India to focus on both lives and livelihood.

The Smart Cities Mission plans to develop 100 smart cities.

“The smart city programme has been a huge help. They already had command and control centres set up and that has helped a lot in dealing with this crisis. With information streaming in from multiple sources, they are helping a lot from moving people, material to resolving logistics issues," said a person working with several state governments, seeking anonymity.

A case in point is authorities using video surveillance systems to ensure lockdown adherence. Apart from helping states decide which areas to open for business and which to keep shut, these control rooms are also being used for contact tracing through apps such as Aarogya Setu and act like call centres to address citizen grievances.

“Overall, I believe the technologies implemented by smart cities have enabled states with tools to manage the covid-19 pandemic," said Dr Akshay Bellare, president, Honeywell India.

Apart from such control rooms designed by Honeywell being used as war rooms, the firm has also developed a lockdown monitoring system that uses camera feeds and artificial intelligence to monitor a city.

“The system generates clear reports that give authorities a way to gauge lockdown effectiveness. A city administrator can objectively assess and report on lockdown adherence, over time, rather than relying on subjective measures. We have also developed and deployed city-specific dashboards, portals and apps to engage with citizens," he said.

The government has extended the lockdown by two more weeks from 4 May while easing curbs in places where there is no or limited incidence of coronavirus infections. The government has classified districts as red, orange and green zones based on risk profiles and offered considerable relaxations in districts falling in green and orange zones.

These control rooms have been helping with logistics planning for government and private hospitals, quarantine facilities, isolation beds, intensive care units, ventilators and personal protective equipment. With the Union health ministry classifying Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bengaluru as red zones, it is here that such control rooms have a critical role to play to help prevent further spread of infections. The health ministry has specified that its list of 130 red, 284 orange and 319 green zones is dynamic, based on cumulative cases and the doubling rate.

Green zones are districts that have had no confirmed cases till date, or none in the past 21 days. Red zones are identified on the basis of total number of active cases, the doubling rate of confirmed cases, the extent of testing and surveillance feedback from the districts.

Pretika Khanna contributed to the story .

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