Rajkot Leveraging Entrepreneurship Culture To Be Inclusive Smart City

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Banchhanidhi Pani

Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) is implementing ICT solutions such as integrated command and control centre, intelligent traffic and integrated transport management system, SCADA for water and sewage, smart waste bins to improve the quality of life in Rajkot, says Banchhanidhi Pani, Commissioner, Rajkot Municipal Corporation, in conversation with Hemangini Kanth Rajput of Elets News Network (ENN).

Which aspects will make Rajkot Smart City unique in becoming a model for other aspiring cities?

During citizen engagements and various workshops conducted as part of the Rajkot Smart city project, it came to the fore that one of the major strengths of Rajkot is its large industrial base and a culture of entrepreneurship. In Rajkot Smart City proposal, we wanted to leverage this culture and further foster it. As of now, the entrepreneurship in this region is confined to small and medium scale industries. We will be creating infrastructure not just to support small and medium scale industries but also to foster innovation in the field of information and communication technology. In the proposed greenfield development as part of the Area Based Development (ADB) plan, we have planned an incubation centre, a convention and an exhibition centre. The aim is to project Rajkot as an innovation hub and a lighthouse for the Saurashtra region. We expect a large number of jobs to be created because of this boost. This is something other aspiring cities can also look forward to.

What challenges Rajkot is facing at present and what solutions do you propose to overcome them ?

One of the biggest challenges Rajkot faces today is availability and distribution of water. It also suffers from high Non Revenue Water (NRW) problem. On the availability front, we are now getting water from Narmada River. On the distribution front and to tackle the problem of NRW, we have proposed Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system to monitor the distribution till the household level. To reduce the NRW leak, an identification system and a smart water metering solution will be implemented across the city. This will help us reduce the distribution losses and improve the water availability in the city.

How does Mission plan ensures improvement in basic facilities like transport, municipal waste, electricity, piped water sanitation and sewage for majority of urban population?

We are implementing various ICT solutions to improve basic facilities in the city. On the transport front, we wanted to completely change the image of public transport and increase the usage by 30-40 per cent in a year. We have come up with a comprehensive solution for this image makeover. Solutions such as passenger information system, digital bus stops, in-bus surveillance, ability to get real-time information about buses on mobile devices are some of the solutions which will help us achieve this goal. Similarly, for waste management, we are closely monitoring all the tipper vans and their compliance using GPS-based ICT solution from Integrated Command and Control Centre (ICCC). On the electricity front, we have already converted old halogen-based lights to LED lights and same will be integrated to ICCC. The ICCC acts as a centre for city operation and will be helping us improve efficiency and reduce wastage.

“In case of natural or man-made calamity, a crisis will be invoked in the ICCC which will help us engage various stakeholders in no time and everyone will be aware of their roles and responsibilities.”

Name a few innovative IT solutions Rajkot Smart City Mission proposed to improve the quality of life?

Improving quality of life is one of the core focus areas of Rajkot Smart City Mission. During our Smart City proposal preparation we conducted a study of the present livability index of the city and found out that there are areas of improvement where ICT can help us. ICT solutions such as integrated Command and Control Centre, intelligent traffic and integrated transport management system, SCADA for water and sewer and smart waste bins are some of the innovative solutions we will be implementing to improve quality of life here.

While developing Rajkot Smart City, how can it be ensured that it will become an eco-friendly and citizen friendly city in the decades to come?

There are various projects proposed under the Smart City Mission to ensure eco-friendly Rajkot. Rooftop solars, two megawatt solar parks, rainwater harvesting at all public places and all buildings, dual plumbing system in all the buildings for reuse of greywater, green building: enforcement of SEE4ALL energy conservation norms are some of the initiatives we will be undertaking in the proposed greenfield area. Similarly to make city more citizen friendly, we want to focus on crime reduction, improve our own operations, hassle free experience while dealing with RMC and, provide space for recreation, etc. CCTV surveillance with 24X7 monitoring of the city will help us in crime reduction. Similarly, we have planned an enterprise resource planning solution which will help us give our citizen best possible experience while dealing with RMC. To give Rajkotians the much needed “lung space” we have proposed various projects such as rejuvenation of three lakes with amusement park, gram haat and a cultural centre in 22 acres of land, q world class sports arena with indoor and outdoor stadium, a 100 acre racecourse, 30 acre area exclusively for parks and gardens etc.

How is the Smart City aspects being integrated in the present mechanism while dealing with natural challenges especially in the aftermath of floods?

Natural calamities come with their own set of challenges for a city. However, being prepared for such scenario is something which can help us overcome these challenges. Moving forward, the Rajkot integrated command and control centre will act as a city operation centre with defined standard operating procedure in case of any natural or man made calamity. In case of natural/man made calamity, a crisis will be invoked in the ICCC which will help us engage various stakeholders in no time and everyone will be aware of their roles and responsibilities. This way, we will be able to deliver the rescue services much faster and in a better manner.

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