Bhopal Smart City: Digitally Transforming into a Leading Destination for Smart, Connected and Eco-friendly Communities

Bhopal Smart City has been the harbinger of digital transformation for all the smart cities across the country with its mission to provide the city with high class IT and ICT Infrastructure for the citizens

The future of cities is going to be IoT powered smart cities. The overarching mission of a smart city is to optimise city capacities and drive economic growth while improving quality of life for its citizens using exponential technologies and data analysis. On similar lines, the vision for Bhopal has been formulated, “Transforming Bhopal, a City of Lakes, Tradition & Heritage into a leading destination for Smart, Connected and Eco Friendly communities focused on Education, Research, Entrepreneurship and Tourism”. And consistent with its vision, Bhopal’s Pan City proposal comprises a bouquet of solutions which will be built on the existing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) framework with minimum administrative bottlenecks. Focus is on integrated and streamlined city operations with ease of governance for administration, ease of access for citizens and ease of business for the industry.

Sharing his thoughts on how the recent disruptions brought about by technological advancements and also how the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated the digital transformation journeys and impacted the digital strategy for the city, Aditya Singh, CEO, Bhopal Smart City says, “Bhopal Smart City Development Corporation Limited (BSCDCL) has always been the flagbearer of the digital transformation for all the smart cities across the country. Prior to the COVID-19, BSCDCL was on its mission to provide the city with high class IT and ICT Infrastructure for the citizens. Multiple city level and state level applications were operated and managed through the Integrated Command & Control Centre (ICCC) project.”

When the pandemic hit the country and lockdown was imposed, the ICCC project was capable in all terms and henceforth, was recommended to be leveraged by the authority as the ‘COVID Combating Centre’ for all district and state operations. The ICCC was already equipped with necessary infrastructure like call centre facility, workstations, video walls, war room, video conferencing facility and many more.

ICCC project and its strategic capacity has supported the district authority to create, develop and supervise the standard operating procedures, implementation framework, monitoring & controlling strategy for the various technological interventions at ICCC including tele/video counselling of citizens, integration of all the helplines into a single system, creation of unified dashboard for incident reporting and analysis, information dissemination using variable messaging displays & digital billboards, public address system communication for enhanced citizen connect, essential service tracking through ICCC, monitoring of traffic movement by ITMS, and sentiment analysis via social media accounts.

Leveraging the ICCC project for the ‘Corona Incident Reporting’ initiative helped create a huge impact on the population of 23 lacs of Bhopal District spread across 19 BMC zones and 85 BMC Wards. Around 35000+ citizen distress calls through different modes have been received at ICCC till date, of which 99% of the grievances have been resolved.

The Data Analytics Platform at ICCC is assisting the authorities for proactive decision-making including hotspot/containment zone declaration, etc. Besides the Pandemic support, ICCC project has also been used for various city level and state level services like Solid Waste Management, CM Helpline, Bus Routes Optimisation, etc.

Digitalisation a top priority

Citizen-centricity is a corner stone of smart city development. And Bhopal Smart City aims to deliver a superior, engaging ‘digital experience’ to next gen citizens. As per its aim to become more digitised, multiple solutions were adopted. Singh shares, “Under the PAN City ICT Projects of Bhopal Smart City, we have implemented various projects covering aspects such as social, economic, environmental, operational efficiency, energy saving, etc. to be digitally transformed for our citizens. To name a few of these, we have projects like Integrated Traffic Management System, Smart Pole, Public Wi-Fi, Digital Screen, Citizen Centric Mobile Applications, etc.”

Exponential technologies like hybrid cloud, digital workspaces, data centre modernisation, cybersecurity, etc. have also played a significant role in the success of Bhopal Smart City’s initiatives. Singh points out that the entire ICCC Infrastructure of Bhopal Smart City is designed on the Cloud DC and DR Solution framework. Bhopal, along with six smart cities of Madhya Pradesh, is using the state-of-the-art integrated cloud solution. “This has helped in optimising the value and cost of the project. Additionally, we have been using Cloud Analytics Solution for the ICCC project,” he adds.

On a fast track

Bhopal Smart City is on a fast track to adopting more next-gen technologies to enhance its digital initiatives. Talking about how they see technology leaders like VMware lending shoulder to the cause, Singh says, “VMware can play its role in terms of cost-optimised cloud services, Artificial Intelligence and Analytics. Additionally, the software-as-a-service model can be explored for other cities. Presently, the ICCC scope is open for various Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities to leverage the services.”

Creating maximum impact

For any organisation to make the right decisions with regards to the adoption of digital technologies, the kind of impact the existing technologies have created on the services needs to be evaluated. For Bhopal Smart City, they are measuring the impact of their digital initiatives in multiple ways.

“One of the parameters through which we assess the success of any digital intervention is how the integration of various IT systems of different stakeholders to enhance safety, security and providing better public services in the cities is helping to assist citizen at the time of emergencies. We can also see how Multilevel Smart parking has reduced the travel time, carbon emission, search time, traffic congestion in the city. Similarly, the Mayor Express (Dynamic Market Place) has been launched for the domestic work of Bhopal city’s citizenry to be made available conveniently and on the telephone, under which 12 domestic services such as carpenter, electrician, plumber, driver, painter, etc. are provided to the citizens of the city. Our key success metrics are an integration of multiple departmental services and ease of servicing the citizens,” concludes Singh.