LAHORE: The much-trumpeted Lahore Safe City project was tested to its limits on its very first day on Tuesday with thousands of devotees joining several Muharram 9 processions across the city.
At least 400 CCTV cameras mainly along the route of the main Muharram procession have been installed with their command and control centre setup at Punjab Safe City Authority’s headquarters at Qurban Lines.
The first phase of the Safe City project was inaugurated by Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday for monitoring the Muharram 9 procession.
While addressing the opening ceremony, he said the project would become the country’s largest integrated command, control and communication (IC3) centre with 8,000 cameras to be installed in the city. The initial cost of the scheme amounted to Rs16 billion but has been reduced to Rs12 billion. “Asia’s largest screen has been installed in IC3 centre through which surveillance of the entire city will be done,” he added.
The younger Sharif brother compared the project to that of Islamabad’s and said Lahore’s plan was four times bigger given that Islamabad had only 2,000 cameras installed.
Especially for the Muharram processions, cameras in the main areas of processions were electronically monitored at the IC3 centre while satellite imagery of the procession routes were also available.
At the IC3 centre, different areas of the city are on display on a large screen. Officials can select any point and enlarge the picture to see what’s happening on ground.
The project is to be completed by May 2017. The project will have its own force, however, for the time being, officials from regular police are inducted in Punjab Safe Cities Authority.
“The idea is to be able to monitor all the roads and streets in Lahore from a centralised system. Every scuffle, violation of traffic would be saved in the surveillance cameras and would help in reducing the crime graph,” said an official of Punjab Information and Technology Board, which provided assistance for the project.
During the ceremony, Shehbaz said criminal elements would be monitored through this system. “Whenever a crime happens in any area, an alarm bell will run pointing out the location on the screen and law enforcing agencies would come into action to deal with it,” he said.
He said after Lahore, the project would be started in six other cities including Multan, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Bahawalpur and Sargodha. He added the projects in these cities would be completed by the end of 2017 while in Lahore it would complete early in 2017.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2016.
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