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The facts about Ernakulam ‘war room’ for COVID control and how the ‘Kerala govt’ manages it

The Ernakulam 'war room' for COVID is actually Integrated Command and Control Centre that was fully funded by the Government of India as a part of the Smart City Mission.

In a recent twitter post, Arvind Jha, who currently serves as a Senior Vice President for Software Development in Newgen Software and a prominent supporter of the Aam Aadmi Party in New Delhi and the Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar tweeted extolling the way in which Kerala was managing the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Jha in a tweet on May 5th stated, “How Ernakulam, Kerala manages its “war” room. No need for desperate heroics’’ that contained a video of a control room with a voiceover explaining what was being achieved.

This was further retweeted and amplified by other verified handles who alluded to the fact that it was an initiative of the Government of Kerala.

Others were ostensibly taking a dig at the Prime Minister’s Mantra of “Maximum Governance” and asking the Prime Minister to emulate it.

The irony of this tweet is that Mr. Jha was actually tweeting about the Integrated Command and Control Centre that was fully funded by the Government of India as a part of the Smart City Mission. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) had conceived of 100 smart cities to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life of people by enabling local area development and harnessing technology, especially technology that leads to Smart outcomes. 

Individual cities could prioritise the interventions based on their needs. The Cochin Smart Mission Limited (CSML) is one such Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) set up to implement smart city projects in Cochin under Smart City Mission (SCM).

One of the tenders released in 2018 by CSML was for the establishment of Integrated Command, Control and Communication Centre (IC4). The IC4 was envisaged to act as the brain of the smart city, which gathers all the information of smart solutions of different departments of the city using ICT (Information and communication technology) and is analyzed for better planning of the city. It has Business Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence (AI) engine which will process all the information and generate insights. These insights will be helpful in managing incidents across the city and do a better planning for the development. It also plays the role of decision support system. 

The project was awarded for a cost of approximately 75 crores and this included Cloud infrastructure for hosting, Civil Work, Safety Instrumentation and Furniture (at CCR), the Video walls, workstations and other productivity tools, communication software and smart city solutions, GIS software and integrations with existing.

Several of the smart cities have gone live and have started to be deployed for planning and administration by various. The idea of such a Command and Control Centre while improving efficiencies during normal times have come as a real boon in the pandemic times.  In Early April, CM of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath visited the Lucknow Command and Control Center to see how it was being used by the city administration. YouTube link below:

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Venkat Goli
A commentator on politics and political economy.

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