A smart city like Pune lacks an improved disaster management cell, which often leads to slow response time to citizens’ bugle calls, asking for help from the city administration during calamities.

The cell works on the ancestral technique of complaints by appeal, which are then handwritten and transmitted to the service concerned. This not only increases response time, but data is also not saved in a digitized format, which is essential for future interventions.

Although the city is modernizing in all aspects, the disaster management unit of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has not been able to cope with the times. The cell only responds to emergency calls and has plenty of room for improvement.

In contrast, Smart City’s Integrated Command and Control Center (ICCC) is far superior in technology and data analysis. The disaster management cell of the PMC relies on images from traffic department cameras, phone calls from citizens or complaints on social networks. The Disaster Management Officer (DMO) has also been given additional responsibility for the Bhawani Peth ward office even as the monsoon has already arrived in the city.

In addition, Hemant Sonune, the head of the disaster management cell, is often absent from the cell.

Currently, the cell receives video recordings from the traffic department and there are approximately 1,250 cameras in the cell. However, when visiting the cell, most of the cameras were not working and were located only along the highways.

The cell receives around 300 to 350 calls a day, which are currently all handwritten by existing staff, who then relay the message by calling the respective departments.

One of the cell staff said, “We have about five people working in each shift in three shifts. The cell is manned 24 hours a day and every call is answered by PMC, fire and police personnel. There are five phone lines and each complaint is hand written with details of the complainant, location and then they are advised of the department or departments involved. The shift changes three times a day from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Currently, everything is done physically, which delays the response time. Sonune said, “The modernization process is currently at the concept level and several departments are involved in the process. The PMC hopes to improve the system in order to send each complaint directly by SMS to the service concerned, thus improving the response time.

On the contrary, as part of the Smart City initiative, the smart elements include a control room in which all the CCTV cameras of the traffic police department are connected and in addition to this there are 136 cabins. emergency calls located at various locations, which can be used to make audio or video calls by citizens to raise their concerns.

There are also 161 variable message displays and flood warning systems along the Mutha River from Khadakwasla for intimate residents of rising waters.