Smart Cities Council India and Western Digital recently co-hosted two round-table conferences in Mumbai and Bengaluru to lay emphasis upon surveillance and safety in smart cities.
The importance of safety and security was the focus of two round-table conferences held by Smart Cities Council India jointly with Western Digital, a leading global provider of storage solutions, in Mumbai and Bengaluru recently. Titled 'Technology Modernisation for Safer and Smarter Cities' (Mumbai) and 'Role of Video Surveillance Systems in Making Cities Safer' (Bengaluru), both events dwelt upon the role of surveillance and security systems in supporting and accelerating the vision of smart cities and helping urban planners understand the framework of a smart city and take steps for collective and progressive growth.
Sharing his viewpoint at the Mumbai conference, Pratap Padode, Executive Director & Founder, Smart Cities Council India, said, 'There is a correlation between crime and urban density. Mumbai has witnessed a drop in crime reported in 2016 over the previous year by 7.7 per cent and CCTV surveillance has had a role to play in the deterrence of crime.'
For a safer city, he further added, 'We need to have safer infrastructure and CCTV surveillance is an integral part of ensuring safer surroundings.' Padode cited Mumbai as a great example of a safe and secure city. '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 suggested.
During the inaugural session, Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman, Mumbai Port Trust, highlighted opportunities that can be explored by stakeholders from the security and surveillance sector. 'We are providing a huge business opportunity to the surveillance sector by building a green city in Mumbai port land,' he said.
The round-table in Mumbai was moderated by Satish Mathur, Director-General, Maharashtra Police, and featured esteemed panellists Arun Unhale, Director, State Disaster Management Authority; Keshava Sharma, Regional Executive Director, Airport Authority of India; Khwaja Saifuddin, Senior Sales Director - South Asia, Middle East and Africa, Western Digital; Amitesh Kumar, JT CP (Traffic) Mumbai Police; and DR Bhade, Senior Planner (NAINA), CIDCO. Stalwarts from technology, security and urban development backgrounds appreciated the organisers for providing such a multi-stakeholder platform to promote discussions on surveillance. The discussion centred on the need of smart surveillance to shape smart cities and transforming surveillance video from a cost burden to value-added asset. Additionally discussed was the need of city administrations to focus on installing and upgrading defined specification of cameras, storage systems and allied technologies and offer incentives to propel the formation of sustainable smart cities.
Speaking at the event, Saifuddin said, 'The surveillance sector in India is expected to witness robust growth owing to rise of urban infrastructure accompanied by increasing spending on IT and security. Therefore, it becomes imperative at this stage to set the video surveillance standards in place to achieve a common goal of enabling smarter and safer cities at a faster pace.'
At the Bengaluru conference, the panellists for the discussion were industry experts who shared their insights in this domain. The event witnessed a welcome address by Pratap Padode; a keynote address by Subhash Chandra, Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department, Government of Karnataka; and an industry perspective from Saifuddin. The discussion highlighted the limitations of Indian standards in video surveillance and the importance of the emergence of stronger safety and surveillance policy in the country with the focus on possible solutions to make Bengaluru a safe and smart city.
'Public surveillance cameras can play a pivotal role in a city's security if CCTV systems are implemented and employed responsibly,' said Padode. There needs to be an emphasis on instating the right surveillance standards and industry best practices for effective surveillance that ensures safety and peace of mind for citizens.
'As Bengaluru authorities are already in the process of stepping up surveillance through the installation of around 5,000 new CCTV cameras across the city, it has to be more than just an exercise. The technology capital of the state should lead by example and set up best standards for video surveillance using the latest technology by installing and upgrading defined specification of cameras, storage systems and allied technologies,' he added.
On the occasion, Gaurav Gupta, Principal Secretary, IT, BT and ST, Government of Karnataka said, 'Bengaluru, being the Silicon Valley of India, should always lead in prospective of technology modernisation. Such initiatives will boost the Indian Government's smart cities mission and make Bengaluru an ideal example in the league. Effective surveillance and secure infrastructure are important to ensure a safer environment. Hence, technology enablers and the government should work jointly to achieve the smart cities vision.'
It was indeed an eminent platform with participation from dignitaries and international and national experts on technologies and smart cities along with urban development officials like Sanjay Sahay, Additional Director General, Karnataka Police; Srinivas Reddy, Director, Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre; Prof. Shankar T, Department of Computer Science and Automation, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru; BNS Reddy, Director - Security and Vigilance, Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC); and Rafiq Ayub, Director, Digilog Technologies.
Speaking at the event, Saifuddin reiterated, 'With smarter cities come smarter responsibilities and video surveillance is one of them. The process of video surveillance involves a lot of data generation, which needs to be stored for future analysis and monitoring. Therefore, it is imperative to set video surveillance standards in place to ensure high quality and sustainability. The surveillance ecosystem players need to work together to achieve the common goal of enabling smarter and safer cities at a faster pace.'
As in Mumbai, the discussion centred on the need of smart surveillance to shape smart cities and transforming surveillance video from a cost burden to value-added asset, as well as the need of city administrations to focus on installing and upgrading defined specification of cameras, storage systems and allied technologies and offer incentives to propel the formation of sustainable smart cities.
The stakeholders concurred in unison that the Government is poised and determined to provide the right impetus and policy environment to take its smart city agenda forward. Investing in the latest video surveillance technology with highest-resolution cameras, best quality analytical tools and highest capacity storage will lead to smart surveillance systems for secure and safe areas, resulting in zero/less crimes and achieving 24+7 surveillance, ensuring a safe environment for residents.
In January 2017, Smart Cities Council India, in support with Western Digital, had organised a similar round-table in Delhi and launched a report on 'Role of Surveillance in Securing Cities', which highlighted the need for surveillance and the role it plays in making our cities secure and smarter. One key survey finding was that 'large storage capacity' came up as a high priority. As hard-drive technology continues to advance, it is important to ensure that storage is scalable and future-ready to enable longer retention cycles and broader analytical capabilities.
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