‘Smart poles for seamless Internet access, EV charging coming soon in Bhopal’


NEW DELHI: India’s Bhopal will soon go truly smart, and is currently deploying as many as smart poles to provide seamless Internet access via public Wi-Fi hotspots, charging points for electric vehicles (EVs) and weather sensors to measure climate conditions.

“150 smart poles have already been installed while another 250 are expected to be completed by year-end and will have Wi-Fi hotspots, charging points for electrical vehicles, weather sensors, street lights and signage,” Tarun Pithode, Bhopal’s District Collector and Bhopal Smart City Chairman told.

Pithode, a 2009-batch Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre, who started his career as a software engineer with a multinational company is a technology freak.

Bhopal, a capital city of Kamal Nath-headed Madhya Pradesh, is focusing on area-based development (ADB) with common utility duct, and is also deploying 200-kilometer-stong optic-fibre cable (OFC) across the city.

ABD is a cluster-based approach for developmental activities, and the city is raising Rs 1,000 crore worth of loan to carry out ongoing initiatives as a part of a larger Smart City ambition.

“We have floated the Expression of Interest (EOI) to borrow money to further develop smart city-led projects,” Pithode said and added that financial institutions that have demonstrated interest to lend Rs 1,000 crore include Punjab National Bank (PNB), Axis Bank, Power Finance Corporation and the Housing and Urban Develop Corporation (Hudco).

Mumbai-based Tata Consulting Engineers (TCE) that offers planning and management services, is creating a business plan for the city to utilise the proposed funds.

The city has so far received a grant of Rs 293 crore from the Centre under the Smart City program.

The seamless Internet connectivity, Pithode said would eventually encourage digital payments with plans afoot to additionally deploy Wi-Fi hotspots on commercial and residential complexes.

“Many blocks are also being developed for commercial activities including schools and gardens and the progress is as per the plan,” the top official added.

The district administration has also built 2,000 residential flats while another 5,000 are being constructed in order to shift the government houses in the predetermined region under the developmental project.

“Multi-level smart parking lots have already been built at three locations and the city administration has also approved similar parking stations at two different sites,” he added.

Ranked as the cleanest city in the country this year, Bhopal has several waste transfer stations, where cleaning and segregating is already done by the local municipality and the garbage is being compressed and transferred to a dumping location for making manure and generating electricity.

The local administration, according to the top official, has identified 22 squares to install 240 smart cameras as a part of a city-wide surveillance system, for a safe city initiative.

“These cameras can be further used for safety purposes including crime control,” the official said and added that the local police are also running a similar project, as a part of an integrated traffic management system where using intelligent cameras, challans are being produced.

In addition, the city administration has an ambitious strategy to install cameras across the Bhopal Bus Rapid Transit System or BRTS, to detect vehicles and people violating the traffic norms.

Bhopal has also created an incubation centre in the smart city office premise, and close to 10 entrepreneurs, according to the official, have come up with their innovative ideas, and have been doing outstandingly well in the country.

Anurag Asati of Kabadiwala, Vibhu Tripathi of Vizbee Robotics and Vijay Mamtani of Prayogik Technologies are some of the Bhopal-based innovators of national fame.