A Digital India Initiative

Bhopal: Monitoring the environment using real-time data

September 4, 2019 Author : jitendra singh rathore

The idea of using data to make decisions in government is not new. Today, data is being generated at an unprecedented scale and rate, which presents an opportunity for governments to manage and use that data to make better and relevant decisions. Cities across India are awash in data but struggling to analyze and make sense of it. With Open data initiatives and data digitization projects, efforts have been made to increase transparency and improve access to government data for public good.

By managing government data and information efficiently, cities can increase operational efficiencies, reduce costs, improve services, and better safeguard personal information. As the volume of data increases over time, the cost and complexity of the tools for storing and analyzing data has lowered significantly, paving way for the field of data-driven governance where data that seems inaccessible or unintelligible—perhaps paper files stored in different parts of the same building, or maybe in different buildings across the city—can now easily combined and compared to gain insights.

The Smart Cities Mission aims to make 100 cities across the country, citizen friendly and sustainable. Bhopal is one of the 100 smart cities. The city of Bhopal has always grappled with the problem of poor air quality. Vehicular exhaust, untreated open sewage, construction activities, among other causes contribute to air pollution in the city.  In order to reduce the carbon footprint of the city and device an all inclusive and environmentally sound action plan for the city, there is a need for collecting, monitoring and analyzing data. Data for air pollution is generated at six points in the city, however, only the data collected from two points is reliable. [1] The missing link here is availability and authentication of data. When city objectives are driven by data, they can present opportunities for better governance through early warning systems, timed interventions and responsible scalability.

In order to overcome the problem of data availability and authenticity, and establish a more indepth understanding of the environmental problem of Bhopal, it was decided to install 100 smart poles with environmental sensors, at different locations in the city. This pole would monitor real time environmental data from those locations and provide statistics for preventive actions, emergency, immediate actions and long term actions.

The environmental sensors in smart poles are installed PAN city, covering all types of areas – high & low traffic zones, industrial areas, residential areas. The aim is to gather comprehensive and real time data of the air quality in all parts of the city. The environmental sensors will gather the following information:

  • Measure air pressure
  • Measure humidity
  • Measure temperature
  • Measure proportion of different gases in the air

The real time data that is collected is passed onto to the Smart City Control and Command Centre for it to become a part of data for city governance. The sensors provide dual feed: one for local display for the citizens- the board becomes red if the air quality of the location or nearby areas is unhealthy; and the other for centralized command and control display. At the command and control centre, it is possible to store the data from sensors, in a hard disk or computer.

This project has been built on public private partnership model. The private agency provides services and has a monetization model in place for the first 15 years. The revenue will be shared with the Bhopal Municipal Corporation based on a mutual agreement.  It will be mutually beneficial for the government & the private agency to have a self-sustainable and revenue generating project, which has tremendous potential for creating improved life quality for citizens of the city.

70 environmental sensors have already been installed. These environmental sensors are providing live feeds which are available at control command Centre. The project being self-sustainable, can be replicated and scalable to any other city / area in the same city.