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Urban monitoring initiative in India

New Delhi, India, September 12, 2007: Union Minister for Science and Technology, Kapil Sibal instructed his staff a year ago to look for a technological solution to the problem of monitoring illegal constructions which led to the development of an artificial intelligence system to detect unauthorised construction in any part of the city.

The initiative, a joint venture with the Russian Academy of Science, that will utilize satellite imagery, aerial photography, manual videography, remote sensing, terrain mapping as well as watchdog cameras to detect construction anomalies in the Capital. The cameras are self cleansing and have a range of five kilometers. They can rotate and can operate in all seasons, including the monsoon.

Project in-charge and head of the science ministry’s research wing Brigadier Shiv Kumar explained further, “Each building in the city will be given a unique ID. We will be able to tell if any construction is taking place or if private buildings have come up on government land and vice versa. We will map all ponds and low lying areas in the city to detect areas that can be potential health hazard to citizens. Water pipes and sewer lines will be fitted with sensors which will help us to immediately detect ruptures or leakages. This system will also complement the GIS method for tasks like assessing property taxes and its collection.” The ministry is running trials in a 15-kilometer radius area in Chandni Chowk.

Kapil Sibal said, “The technology will be of immense help to planners, whether it is for the town, for water pipes, power lines etc. Delhi will be our pilot project. Once implemented here, we shall reach out to other parts of the country.” Sibal will make presentations before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi next month. The Delhi Government has already sanctioned Rs 100 crore for it, he added. Sibal also made a presentation before Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna last month. Khanna said, “I have requested the ministry to complete work in 18 months. Raj Niwas will be coordinating on behalf of the Government.”

Sibal said such clear database will end any confusion in the implementation of the Masterplan. Municipal records and records of Revenue Department will be compiled into a common database; information will be integrated through specially developed software.
He added, among its other benefits, the system can manage traffic, prepare a city in case of impending natural disasters and can monitor environment. He said, “We shall also lend the technology to the Delhi High Court which wants its help to settle property disputes. Later, we shall invite private participation for the actual implementation of the software.”