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‘Smart Cities’ edition: From the Editor

Some 8,000 surveillance cameras will soon watch over Punjab’s metropolis—Lahore. This is one of the government’s many technology based initiatives to boost the security of the second largest city of Pakistan under the Punjab Safe Cities Project.

A state-of-the-art Punjab Police Integrated Command, Control and Communication Centre (PPIC3) has recently been inaugurated in Lahore while other big cities scheduled to receive such fully equipped and integrated centers are Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Multan, Faisalabad, Sargodha, and Bahawalpur.

The data collected from surveillance cameras and other automated devices such as fingerprints information system and criminal record offices will be shared with different law enforcement agencies, traffic police, and government departments through these integrated centers for effective and efficient responses to any kind of security threat and emergency situation in real-time. This is just the tip of the iceberg!

Pakistan like many other South Asian countries is undergoing an incredible urban expansion. Currently, 39 percent of the population is living in urban centers. This is expected to rise to more than half of the country’s population by 2025. This trend has and will create significant pressure on the delivery of urban services. These services include, but are not limited to security, environment, transport, health, education, housing and so on.

This scenario gives heavy impetus towards the efficient management of limited resources and the eventual transformation of major urban centers into smart cities. In this edition, we bring you coverage of smart initiatives being embraced to ensure efficient application of technology with the ultimate goal of improving people’s lives starting with Shahzada Irfan’s overview.

Next, Arshad Dogar reviews a somewhat overlooked but steady shift away from traditional “thana culture” to modern, smart policing with the application of technology. He shows us how for example, just one of many initiatives, Hotel Eye Software helped Punjab Police to break up several gangs, target offenders and terrorists since its launch. The article takes up Punjab Safe Cities Project in detail in the backdrop of turning Lahore and other big urban centers into smart cities.

Ahmed Raza’s article is literally a smart ride in the urban transportation sector and underscores the impressive strides taken in the provision of safe and comfortable transport options for citizens.  He casts a light on the multifaceted use of technologies such as automated fare collection system, bus scheduling system, passenger information system (PIS), and surveillance system, etc., in efficiently running metro bus operations in Punjab. He also discusses the entry of private transportation network companies such as Uber and their possible role in alleviating the pressure placed on Pakistan’s transport sector.

A poor solid waste management system can cause contamination of soil and water which seriously impacts on environmental resources, economy and the health of citizens, states Jawwad Rizvi in his piece and explains how the Lahore Waste Management Company is efficiently processing over 5,000 tons of daily waste in the city. He also touches upon the use of technology for this purpose, such as the mechanically washing and cleaning of roads, real-time tracking and monitoring of field staff and company vehicles.

All this would not be possible without the power of connectivity. In his essay, Saeed A. Baloch informs us about smart city initiatives powered by connectivity to boost the performance of various departments and their enhanced operational capabilities. The article addresses subjects such as smart monitoring of schools and dengue tracking system.

In this edition you will also find Q+A with the PTA Chairman Dr. Syed Ismail Shah in which he analyzes the landscape for telecommunication in Pakistan. We are also featuring the viewpoint of Jibran Jamshad from the IT industry focusing on the challenges that abound in terms of the application of smart city programs and the steps Pakistan needs to take in this regard.

Happy reading!

Dr. Umar Saif, Editor in Chief

Umar Saif tweets @umarsaif

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