LAHORE - The high-tech command, control, and communication system will be made operational in the metropolis, most probably by the first week of October.

The first-ever security surveillance system in Lahore is part of the Safe City project to be completed with an estimate cost of Rs10 billion. The provincial government also plans to extend this project to Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Multan, and Faisalabad cities in 2017.

Police sources and government officials say they believe this project of surveillance system would be completed in the provincial capital by October 5.

Last year, the provincial government had to defer the much-hyped project because of the budget constraints. Originally, the project was scheduled to be completed in Lahore by December 2015.

A senior official yesterday told The Nation that the provincial government would allocate billions of rupees for this project in the forthcoming budget for the fiscal year 2016-17.

Under this project, the government has been planning strict surveillance of miscreants and offenders by using modern tools including CCTV cameras. “At least 2,000 CCTV cameras would be installed on the leading roads and crossings in Lahore. This will help police ensure round-the-clock surveillance and monitoring,” the official said.

According to a police officer, all the police patrolling units including Dolphin Force, Police Response Units, and mobile squads would be inserted into the integrated system. Similarly, quick police response in untoward happenings is also among the salient features of this initiative.

The state-of-the-art command, control, and communication system is being established at the Qurban Police Lines in Lahore. Many security and IT experts are engaged by the authorities to fine tune the IC3 project before its launching.

The project has three parts – one is installing cameras everywhere in the city, second is to monitor the metropolis through them and pass on the information to police for action, and the third is the response or feedback itself.

Security experts say the key element is the police response to the digitally obtained information of a crime and its location. Safe City is a new paradigm to fit modern cities and the rising cost of manpower; it combines the street patrolman’s intuitive approach with state-of-the-art observation, communication, and information management.

According to urban experts, crime and fear of crime have long been recognized as a major challenge to sustainable cities. It also has a significant impact on quality of life.

Last year, the government had promulgated an ordinance to make all departments concerned sit together under the banner of an authority and ensure transparent and quick establishment of a security surveillance system with an estimate cost of Rs10 billion.

The “Safe City Project” is a concept for returning security, safety, and quality of life to today’s complex cities through the use of technology, infrastructure, personnel, and processes. Inflated populations in the inner cities result in crime, vandalism, and a major target for terrorism. This directly impacts the country’s economic, political, and personal well-being. Municipal surveillance demands a non-intrusive security solution while at the same time must address the diverse range of sensitivities, routines, and systems used by various emergency services (police, fire, health, emergency services, etc).  When an accident or incident occurs, effective and accurate response and reaction to an event is made possible.

The Punjab Safe Cities Authority, approved under the Punjab Safe Cities Ordinance 2015, has been tasked to ensure establishment, development, and maintenance of a command, control, and communications system (IC3) in major towns in the province.

In background interviews, some government officials and IT experts pointed out that there are many flaws in this project that need to be fixed first. For instance, the government appointed police officers on technical slots. According to the qualification/experience required for the post of Project Director, Additional Project Director, and Deputy Project Directors, the candidates should have been police officers of the rank of DIG and SSP. Thus, these police officers have been working as additional director and deputy project directors on technical posts like transition and transformation, technology, HR and training.

Experts say that only highly-qualified professionals should be appointed on these posts. Police officers say urban growth and security threats are the main drivers for safe city technology advancement.

Worldwide the video technology is used to support crowd management. “But people are the key to safe cities,” according to experts. “Safe cities imply smart citizens. In addition, as the public becomes more connected with smart-phones and broadband access, more information comes into law enforcement from the public and the public’s expectations for governmental services and safety increase”.