Surat Transforming as Smart and Sustainable City

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Since being selected under the Smart Cities Mission, Surat, known for its diamond and textile industry, has emerged as India’s highest ranked smart city with maximum number of projects implemented and completed under the Smart Cities Mission. The city’s civic authorities aim to improve public services and citizen interface, writes Priyanka Sharma of Elets News Network (ENN).

Centered around the theme of ‘Citizen Friendly Surat’, the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) is utilising intelligent transport and connectivity solutions to bring the best services to its citizens. The SMC is implementing various projects to enhance citizens’ quality of life, creating accessible and quality infrastructure, and mobility. It is being done by leveraging advanced technology with a major focus on development of the State’s economy. Various smart projects launched by the SMC include:

Smart City Centre

Envisaged as an administrative control centre for the city, the City Centre provides an effective and efficient delivery mechanism for all civic services. It operates in four layers and collects functioning information of all the departments on real time basis, as far as possible. Automated sensors and systems send various data sets to the centre, which are analysed to derive some conclusions. SMAC Centre plays an important role in providing real time information about civic facility utilisation in the city. It helps all the departments in maintaining civic service delivery standards on day-to-day basis. It gives support to the departmental heads for taking quick decisions in restoring services while handling unforeseen disturbing situations.

In case of emergency situation, SMAC Centre plays an important role of coordinating all departments with decision support system for effectively managing rescue and relief operations. Thus, the SMAC center is able to address the issue of delivering quality civic services.

Integrated Traffic and Mobility Administration Centre

(IT-MAC) This centre houses various departments/entities involved in managing city traffic and mobility like Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) , city bus, traffic police, RTO, fire, emergency services, etc. IT-enabled applications help all the concerned agencies to coordinate and support each other for smooth traffic operations. SMC has intelligent transit system for BRTS, and city bus operations. This offers real-time vehicle location and passenger seat information. SMC is using Adoptive Traffic Control System (ATCS) in BRTS, which will be extended to all major traffic junctions.

Surat has a network of more than 600 CCTV surveillance cameras, which will be expanded to all major locations in the city with the IT-MAC. All stakeholder like sitilink, Traffic Police, Regional Transport Office (RTO), fire and emergency services, utility services, etc, will coordinate, share and act on an integrated platform through the IT-MAC. Citizens will be connected through variable message signs, website, mobile app, mobile alerts and social media. Thus, this integrated centre will be single point source in resolving all traffic and mobility issues to the satisfaction of the citizens.

Common City Payment System

The system will be a co-branded multi-application contactless smart card. It will offer wide range of civic services to citizens with convenience of using single smart card only. “Surat money card will enable citizens to do retail transactions as well as transport transcations through a single card. It will be launched soon,” said M Thennarasan, Commissioner, Surat Municipal Corporation. This card will be enriched with many other applications to enhance user convenience and experience. In the first phase, 16 services have been identified which include transport, health, education, nutrition, affordable housing, shop and other licenses, library, sports and recreational facilities etc. This will fulfill citizen expectations of multiapplicability of the card. Simultaneously, it will also make available one more service delivery channel with ‘tap & go’ features for transport services.

Connected Surat

Internet has become a critical enabler of social and economic change, transforming how government, business and citizens interact. SMC wishes to provide Wi-Fi service to the citizens covering important public places. Apart from this, SMC wishes to have the citywide Fiber-to-Home connectivity, which will be useful in providing reliable connectivity with high bandwidth, meeting the present and future requirements. It will also help in bridging digital divide by enabling access of Internet to all section of society. “Our main focus is on IT-based services for citizens. We are also trying to improve the SMC services like 24X7 water supply, smart roads, IT enabled transport system, etc,” added Thennarasan.

Development of ERP and GIS platform

The Enterprises Resource Planning (ERP) for critical Municipal Operations is a framework for integrated solutions on a common technology platform to address process automation needs of SMC. It will be a modular framework consisting of several integrated applications built for security and scalability. Applications will be assembled on a common technology platform that addresses institution wide process automation. It will also deliver stakeholder specific report and performance analysis.

Considering the requirement of incremental quality of services, all major departments will go for ERP development. ERPs in health, education, women and child care will address specific issues of the citizens. SMC will be able to adopt more focussed approach in line with the national and state goals. It will also help in establishing the integrated ward office for addressing citizen issues near to their homes at walking distance. Each department will have citizen interface in the form of mobile app, social media, etc.

Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS)

This IT enabled service makes public transport system more efficient and citizen friendly. It is possible to manage the system centrally, simultaneously extending a package of transport options to citizens. AFCS not only helps in overall management of the public transport system but also it will give citizen friendly transit options.

Water Supply Management, Quality and Water Recharging

At present, there are four water treatment and distribution centres and three ESRs in the selected area providing 75 Million Litres Per Day (MLD) of water. This infrastructure will be augmented to ensure 24X7 water supply. Smart water meters will be installed for all connections. Water quality standards will be maintained and a quality check will be ensured at the source as well as at the end-user locations. In order to conserve water, it is proposed to have rain water harvesting and recharge along with recharge through storm water drainage system. “Surat has rejuvinated the Gopi talab. It is a very good project. Their tertiary treatment of sewage water is very good and they have created a green corridor along the BRTS. It is very innovative and people will feel cooler on the roads,” said Santosh Kumar Sharma, Commissioner, Aligarh Municipal Corporation, while attending an event in Surat.

Surat has signed an agreement with Netherlands Rotterdam city for a two-year technical knowledge exchange programme, which will focus on water security. The programme, which comes under the European Union’s urban cooperation programme, will ensure sustainable growth for Surat’s water system.

Sewerage – Recycle and Reuse and Storm Water

There are two Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs) which collect and treat the sewerage collected from the selected area. It is proposed to novate the existing STPs with SCADA and energy generation and to recycle/reuse at least 50 per cent of treated water from selected area.

Skywalk (Travellator)

As the proposed Area Based Development (ABD) area with many textile markets near to railway and interstate bus station, it has high floating population density and pedestrians find no place on road currently. Further traffic situation is worsened due to pedestrians on road. To solve this problem walkability is provided by 3.6 km long skywalk / travellator connecting textile market area to inter-state bus station and railway station.

Visual Improvement in area

For visible improvement in the area, implementation of road dividers, proper signage, decorative traffic islands etc, relevant to Smart City has been taken up. Cycle track and footpaths without encroachment to improve the walkability is one area on which SMC is focussing.

No Vehicle Zone

 To reduce the pollution and to promote recreation/ art display is also on the anvil. Economic Development Establishment of innovation, incubation centre including a trade facilitation centre with the objective of improving ease of doing business, along with modernisation of existing logistic park with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) enabled logistics systems, conveyor belts and battery operated vehicles for internal circulation, truck terminal with modern facilities is being proposed. This modernisation will help in reducing the traffic congestion in Bhathena -Anjana area.

Logistics Park

Although the ABD area is bursting with many textile markets, currently no planned logistics facility is available and hence due to haphazard and on-road activities of transportation/ loading/ unloading of goods, traffic problem persists for full day. To solve heavy traffic problem due to such activities in the proposed area, advanced logistic park is proposed. Due to the proposed logistic park, systematic loading unloading and transportation of textile goods will be possible and traffic congestion will be reduced.

Incubation/Startup centre

High employment opportunities are available in Surat due to various commercial activities. A startup and incubation centre is likely to start this year to train the semi-skilled/ skilled job seekers in various trades and to provide necessary information though single window clearance to promote start-ups. “We have been encouraging entrepreneurs and innovators by providing support to startups through funding, mentoring and incubation under various policies and schemes.

The State has introduced various schemes and policies including Gujarat Startup / Innovation Scheme under the Industrial Policy 2015, Gujarat Electronics & IT/ ITeS Startup Policy 2016, Student Startup & Innovation Policy 2017 etc,” said Vijay Rupani, Chief Minister of Gujarat, in a recent interview with eGov magazine.

“The Government of Gujarat has also created the ‘GVFL Startup Fund’ of Rs 250 crore towards promoting startup ecosystem along with GVFL Ltd. We have also set up the International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology or ‘iCreate’ on PPP model as a Centre of Excellence for providing an ecosystem for next-gen entrepreneurs. iCreate offers support of 6 to 24 months to individuals seeking grooming, preparation and incubation support,” the CM added. SMC has become the first civic body in the country to get a grant of Rs 7.5 crore from NITI Aayog’s Atal Incubation Mission for a period of five years.

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