The Central and State Governments are adopting various measures to deal with the challenging and ever-changing situations arising due to Coronavirus in India. Amongst it, various smart cities are using the mission to come up with innovative initiatives to manage COVID-19 effectively at the grassroots.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the nodal ministry for 100 smart cities, has shared a number of best practices that smart cities have adopted to deal with COVID-19. Integrated command centers, GPS surveillance, data analysis, online tracing and various other techniques are being put in execution by the smart city boards to address the challenges posed by the global pandemic.

Smart cities based in Himalayan states of India have done a good job so far. Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh is one such example of the Himalayan smart city. Integrated Command and Control Centre (ICCC) have been transformed and is being used as the State Control Centre against COVID-19. Non-medical team has been deployed to receive calls and monitor progress and preparedness in all 26 districts of the state.

The medical team at the ICCC is providing support to health related queries of the callers. Three 24×7 helpline numbers and one WhatsApp number have been circulated through the Public Announcement System (PAS), Variable Message Display (VMDs) and social media. Support is extended even to residents outside the state. Data collected on calls is being digitized and archived.

Social Media War Zone at ICCC is being used to monitor the information being shared on social media. A dedicated team is stationed for monitoring the news/reports/data that is being disseminated on the State’s social media portals such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. All the news and information that is being disseminated through the state portals is completely verified and authenticated before making public

Dharamsala has also laid a great example for other cities to engage self help groups in providing various facilities. It used National Urban Livelihood Mission’s Self Help Groups (SHGs) for stitching reusable masks for routine use which has been considered an extraordinary step taken by the city. Fire tenders are being used for comprehensive surface disinfection by Sodium Hypochlorite solution in the city. The sanitization vehicles are also being used for IEC activities. Also, the wages of Corona Warriors has been released in advance by the state authorities.

Meanwhile, in Shillong Smart City, an awareness music video has been released titled ‘Stop Corona’ sung by a group of children in order to spread awareness on the global pandemic. The student shelter homes have also been set up for non-Meghalaya students stranded in the state due to COVID lockdown.

Dehradun Smart City Limited has introduced the process of monitoring the quarantine at the hospitals, through ICCC. Quarantine centers have been connected with ICCC. Dehradun has even started e-pass service for essential services and emergency. Dehradun Smart City has also designed an app to monitor the details of the confirmed suspected cases in the Dehradun district.

The smart city boards aim to ramp up these efforts under the smart city mission in the coming times to combat the growing  Coronavirus crisis.

(Author works with the Research and Communications team at SDC)