THE smart city vehicle, Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Ltd is going to install 460 closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in and around the Greater Panaji area at a cost of Rs 3.50 crore. If the project is realized as conceived it will transform the whole scene for citizens and law enforcement agencies. The project has epic objectives: to check lawlessness, traffic indiscipline, garbage dumping and other ills that keep the city in a late medieval situation. As part of the project the Smart City authorities have started replacing the overhead cables with underground fibre optic cables. The idea is management of the city from Old Goa to Dona Paula and Cujira educational complex. The CCTV cameras would be connected to a command and control centre, which is being set up at the old PWD office premises at Patto. A counter data centre is also being set up at Hyderabad as a fallback support for data generated and stored. The cameras and sensors would help in imposing penalties and taking quick action against road rules violations, unusual gathering and criminal activities. There would also be pedestrian buttons and panic buttons in appropriate places for the convenience of pedestrian crossings and for the emergency need of a citizen needing help in any part of the city.
The protocol for execution of the project is being prepared by Director General of Police Muktesh Chander. The command and control centre will be manned by officials of various departments like police, public works, collectorate and the Corporation of the City of Panaji. The command and control centre will be used for collecting and storing data for areas falling under the jurisdiction of Greater Panaji. The command centre is being designed on a scale that it can be used for collection and storage of data for the whole state. Other cities desiring to use the facilities could be connected to the hub at a later stage. The project involves creation of hotspots in Greater Panaji which will provide free wi-fi. The project will also create facilities like smart parking, smart signalling and garbage collection. It would monitor the garbage fleet of the CCP and tackle the problem of stray animals.
Use of CCTV cameras for better administrative management has become common across the world. A number of cities in different countries have installed CCTV surveillance camera systems as an additional tool for fighting crime and making streets safe. Studies have revealed that the very presence of camera surveillance systems has discouraged criminals and prevented crimes from happening. The software that is to be used in the Panaji system will help identify any vehicle or person involved in violations even in crowded places. The cameras and software would be highly beneficial to the police in Panaji and Old Goa in prevention and detection of crime. The police have been struggling to find ways to tackle traffic violations and other crimes. The sentinel system has been of some help, but their surveillance cannot be as sweeping as CCTV cameras. Once the new system comes into operation, the police and other authorities would be in a better position to take cases of violations of laws to their logical end as they would have sufficient evidence against the culprits involved in violations. That would increase the chances of the prosecution succeeding in courts.
Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Ltd should be lauded for the project to make the Greater Panaji area safer for people through use of technology. They should however be on guard to prevent damage to the facilities under way by unscrupulous elements. There have been numerous instances in the past of anti-social elements stealing materials, uprooting boards, signages and damaging government properties. A large part of the materials to be used for the project have already arrived; they need to be protected. Pilferage and vandalism could cause escalation of costs and delay in completion of the project. Making Panaji a safer place through use of technology (and the rest of Goa later) would also help the state earn appreciation of tourists for providing a safe environment for them and their families. The authorities of Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Ltd have a great responsibility on their shoulders to make the city ‘smart’, as the existence of the late medieval conditions in terms of traffic and garbage management makes the capital a butt of mockery.