• Sindh govt has paid NRTC Rs3bn to execute the first phase
• Work will begin after Eid to cover ‘red zone’ with 1,300 cameras, officials say
• Over 12,000 surveillance cameras to be installed in phases across Karachi

KARACHI: With payment of more than Rs3 billion already made to the National Radio & Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC) for its execution, the Karachi Safe City Project is set to take off this month with installation of 1,044 new surveillance cameras and upgrade of 256 old ones after a delay of more than eight years, official sources have said.

Keeping in view what is written on papers and designed by experts, technical consultants and security experts, the authorities believe that the project will “revolutionise the dynamics of the law enforcement” in the city.

“The ground is ready and you would see work starting most probably after Eid holidays in the first such practical step to make it [safe city] happen,” said an official.

“In first phase, the Red Zone [a term used for mostly south district areas which house key government buildings, foreign consulates, Sindh Assembly, CM House, Governor House, etc] and airport corridor would be covered. Total 1,300 cameras would be installed in the first phase. Among these 1,300, 1,044 would be new and the rest 256 are the old ones which would be upgraded.”

These 1,300 cameras would be installed at 300 sites in districts South, East, Malir and Korangi.

“With 12 megapixel cameras in place, the safe city system would help carry out digital forensic and image enhancement of the acquired data, facial recognition, automatic number plate recognition which is called ANPR, which will be integrated with national and criminal databases,” added the official.

The 1,300 cameras would be supported by “response force” on the ground moving on 23 vehicles across the designated areas.

Separate command, control centre

A nine-floor building for the command and control centre would also be built on Sharea Faisal adjacent to the Saddar police station to station the high-tech system, he said.

The conceptual framework of the smart safe city Karachi includes swift delivery — response and services — digital forensics, analysis of incidents, situational awareness through one window operation, real-time monitoring of activities, systematised traffic & crowd examining and monitoring, timely action against untoward incidents and intelligence data co-relations from a database.

The officials say that the project originally envisages 12,000 cameras across the city with “response force” on ground in more than 110 vehicles.

The first phase is the start of the project which would take a few years to complete in different phases.

Asif Aejaz, director general of the Sindh Safe City Authority, has reasons to be hopeful regarding the project.

“In the past things couldn’t proceed due to different issues, but this time the situation is totally different,” he told Dawn.

“This is going to happen. We are going to see work on the ground very soon that includes building of the required infrastructure, installation of cameras and provision of software solutions,” he added.

Sources privy to the development said that the reason behind the “authorities’ confidence” was the recent payment to the NRTC from the Sindh government for execution of the project.

“Total estimated cost of the first phase of the project is Rs6.6bn,” said a source aware of the recent development. “The Sindh government has signed an agreement with NRTC worth Rs5.6bn. The agreement requires 71 per cent of the total cost as an advance payment. The Sindh government has finally made the required payment recently which has raised its hopes about the beginning of the groundwork.”

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2024

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