'Smart City' Initiative Should Not Create Disintegrated, Non-inclusive Cities: Bhattacharya

Published: 25th August 2015 07:41 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th August 2015 07:41 PM   |  A+A-


NEW DELHI: The Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, P Bhattacharya, has emphasised the need for caution in the development of ‘Smart Cities’ lest the provision of a safe city environment leads to  creation of class divisions  between perceived  smart citizens and other citizens debarred from availing of the facilities and opportunities of a ‘Smart City’.

Speaking at FICCI’s ‘Homeland Security -2015’ conference on the theme ‘Safe and Smart Cities’ here today, Bhattacharya declared that there has been little pondering over the inclusiveness of different sections of society in a ‘Smart City’ and therefore it was imperative to ensure that ‘Smart City’ should not lead to withering of a common sense of belonging to the nation by creating isolated island of disintegrated cities. Let ‘Smart Nation’ be a futuristic foal of this novel endeavor”.

He said that the government’s ‘100 Smart Cities’ initiative would surely intensify the process of urbanization with half of the country’s population living in urban areas. In such a scenario, while ‘smart city’ solutions would be inevitable, Mr. Bhattacharya expressed concern over the future of the rural population who would need focused attention to increase production and productivity. “This must not be lost sight of,” he said and added the urban magnet should not leave the rural workforce to fend for themselves.

While acknowledging that in India’s context ‘Smart Policing’ may require not only comprehensive modernization of the structure and operation of police forces, Bhattacharya underlined the need for a more flexible legal framework. “Traditional laws will need to be replaced by modern police laws that will recognize newer crimes and ensure appropriate focus on crimes related to cyber security like information and identity thefts, breach of data privacy and, hacking of websites and networks, he emphasized.

Bhattacharya pointed out that the components, systems, networks and architecture were important to the security design and reliability of the ‘Smart City’ communications solutions. “But it is impossible to predict and prevent undesirable emergencies and one must be prepared with a proper response plan, he said, adding that since the rapidity of the response was critical during emergency situations, it was imperative to ensure that a ‘Smart City’ is insulated as much as possible from the impact of unpredictable disasters.

On the occasion, the dignitaries released the FICCI-EY report titled S.M.A.R.T. policing for smart cities.

P.V. Rama Sastry, IGP, NIA, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India and Secretary, IPS Association, in his remarks,  stated that peace and harmony were essential factors for sustaining the country’s economic growth. But security threats loom large and unless these are addressed in right earnest there was a serious threat of derailing the growth engine. He added that peoples’ collaboration was to developing a people’s police which was the demand for the 21st century.

Dr. Arbind Prasad, Director General, FICCI, said there are various kinds of security threats in Smart Cities, particularly cyber-attacks can bring the entire city structure to a standstill. One of the biggest concerns about smart cities is that the sensors in the equipment can be hacked and fed fake data, which could be used for all manner of mischief, like causing signal failures that shut down subways or allowing contaminants into the water supply, etc. In addition to new security concerns in Smart Cities, the traditional risks like that of assassinations, kidnappings, hijacking, bomb scares, etc. cannot be ruled out completely. Some of these have been potent threats to internal security in view of the deadly nature of terrorist attacks these days and that terrorist organisations are increasing resorting to use of new technologies to instil fear into the common citizen.

Urban terrorism seems to be the new modus operandi. There is therefore a need to look into urban security and particularly security of smart cities from a completely new perspective. Besides terrorism, India currently is facing internal security threats such as naxalism, religious fundamentalism, manmade disasters, insurgencies etc.

He said that the new breed of threat creators have trans-border linkages, are tech savvy, use modern gadgets, are well planned and coordinated. In order to combat this new face of terrorism, there is a need to upgrade to modern & hi-tech equipment for better internal security. Technology has an important role to play in this, be it the application and tools for intelligence gathering, surveillance, detection or protection.

Mr. Vikas Aggarwal, Executive Director, EY, in his theme presentation, stated that Smart Cities’ need to address the challenges using S.M.A.R.T. police force, which can prevent accidents, emergencies as well as crime. Smart police is a modern police that can relate to the citizens of a smart city and can also act efficiently using IT enablement. Smart police should be capable of protecting the city’s physical and IT infrastructure. Minimum response time is expected from smart police in case of an emergency. The police also needs to make efforts to recover the city from any major incident. In order to help citizens in all aspects, the police needs to be smart and agile. 

Emphasizing the need for greater public-private partnership for the implementation of smart cities in India, Mr. Ashok Bajpai, Managing Director, G4S India said, "Let us not reinvent the wheel, we should learn from countries like Singapore, UK and U.S. the implementation of best practices. In London, for example, there are over 17000 cameras installed after the 2005 bombing. It is one of the densest cities in terms of security. In India too we need greater public-private partnership to ensure this kind of implementation of smart infrastructure.

It is all about the collaboration between government infrastructure and smart people at all levels. The time has come for practices like preventive policing and predictive analytics to be implemented. We should not be reactive but proactive. This involves public-private partnerships to work in four areas namely city surveillance, building security, architecture and physical security in public spaces to ensure safety."

The FICCI-Ernet and Young report explores the possibility of shifting from traditional police systems to a SMART policing structure. It explores in depth India’s policing architecture, and compares and correlates best practices from around the world and  analyses various components of analytics and intelligence required by modern enforcement agencies, and underlines initiatives that need to be taken for the transition.

The report highlights the use of modern technology in solving important and complex security issues of the country.

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