With Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Smart Cities’, the role of data and IT, especially video surveillance in enhancing security will become vital. Under the flagship “Safe City” project, the Union Ministry has proposed $333 million to make seven big cities—Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Hyderabad—focus on technological advancement.
Taking a cue, the Smart Cities Council (SCC)—in an association with the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA)—organised a roundtable conference in Delhi to discuss the role of surveillance in India. The event also saw the launch of the report on Role of Surveillance in Securing Cities The report was jointly supported by Western Digital and explains the need for surveillance to act as a catalyst for secure cities in India. It also talks about the role of data and IT in creating safer and smarter cities, as well as the urgent need for better storage capacities.
The report was launched in the presence of senior government representatives including GK Pillai, Chairman, Data Security Council of India & Former Home Secretary and Prof Santosh Kumar, Executive Director, National Institute of Disaster Management, Ministry of Home Affairs. Meanwhile, the report highlighted the need for surveillance and the role it plays in making Indian cities secure and smarter. It also provided an analysis on opportunities, challenges and the current scenario for video surveillance in India. The study is a platform to analyse and implement the recommendations for creating safer and secure environment.
Addressing the full-house audience, Pratap Padode, Executive Director & Founder, Smart Cities Council India, says, “There is a positive correlation between urbanisation and crime. Therefore, with affirmative evidence as surveillance control crime and given the Smart Cities Mission drive, city administrations need to focus on installing and upgrading defined specification of cameras, storage systems and allied technologies.” He added: “Our research and survey findings have highlighted that the current storage capacity is poor; while the overall surveillance system was rated higher on effectiveness and adaptability.”
That apart, Padode emphasised on the need for cameras that can assist in crime detection and community watch; while crime prevention, traffic management and women safety are other objectives that are deemed important.
To this, Khwaja Saifuddin, Senior Sales Director – South Asia, Middle East and Africa, Western Digital, said, “With growth of public infrastructure on a constant rise, accompanied with increasing IT and security spending, the surveillance sector is expected to witness a robust growth in India.”
All these factors, he added, “pertaining to video surveillance create a lot of data, which needs to be stored for future analysis and monitoring. Therefore, it is imperative to set the video surveillance standards in place to ensure high quality and sustainability.”
While addressing the issue of safety measures for smart cities, Pillai said that a comprehensive plan for entire nation may not be feasible in the current scenario. He also emphasised that parliamentarians should come to such tech roundtables and make policy making easier by keeping the Government updated. Pillai suggested that the Police Force need to go hand-in-hand with the technological developments with citizen’s commitments to make city safer and smart.
India is at a high risk from natural disasters and there is a growing importance to plan cities better. Citing an example, Prof Kumar was of the opinion that majority of cities in India are not planned like Chandigarh, Noida, etc. While addressing the august gathering, he stressed upon the need for investments in risk sensitive development to prevent further loss of lives. He also made a point that since natural disaster disrupts development, there is a serious need of risk analysis by cities.
Role of video surveillance
The session on “Role of Video Surveillance Systems in making cities safer” explored the possibilities how smart surveillance will shape smart cities in India while developing a holistic approach to CCTV and security requirements. The panelists deliberated on the key factors like whether surveillance system is a cost burden or a value-added asset. The session also pinpoints the limitations of Indian standards in video surveillance and emphasied on the importance of emergence of stronger safety and surveillance policy in India.
One of the panelists, Arindam Guha, Partner, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, felt the need for convergence of schemes and sharing of data across systems for smart cities plan. To this, he deliberated upon three key issues—cost, technology and functionalities—for sustainable configuration of surveillance cameras.
Explaining the importance of surveillance, Anand Prakash, Director –Modernisation, Bureau of Police Research and Development, said that video surveillance in personal space creates peace of mind, but the procurement authorities need to focus on pricing.
To which Sanjay Sahay, Additional Director General of Police, Karnataka accorded the need for audit of all surveillance systems in use and suggests uniformity and certification of the technology.
The session also delivered a consensus on the Government focusing on context-specific needs and investing in the latest video surveillance technology with highest-resolution cameras, best quality analytical tools and highest capacity storage. The roundtable delivered an interesting outcome focusing on the real-time, dynamic and world-class video surveillance system forming an important key to achieve the vision for secure cities. Video surveillance adaptation rate and increasing demand for high-tech technologies also emerged as an important driver of the outstanding growth of the surveillance market.
One of the key survey findings was that ‘large storage capacity’ came up as the number one priority. As hard drive technology continues to advance, it is important to utilise open standards to ensure that storage is scalable and future proof to enable longer retention cycles and broader analytical capabilities.
In addition, advances in IP-surveillance like intelligent video algorithms will make it even more critical to select open-storage devices that can handle combinations of data from different sources.
Today in India, video surveillance is not just restricted to tier-I cities, but also restricted in tier-II and tier-III cities. An interesting observation that the report highlights is the sharp reduction in violence or crime in the cities owing to video surveillance systems, indicating that it is indeed proving effective in the public domain in India.
In times to come, multiple stakeholders will need to work in tandem with each other and derive impactful measures to achieve a safer and more secure smart city for the citizens. A dependable collaboration between the public and private users as well as vendors/installers and policy makers is also of utmost importance. These are the priorities that at the end will help us achieve securer cities through smart surveillance.