A masterclass in using 3D maps for planning + Real-time Governance with drones
Operation Egret remains one our favourites, the story trickles down and becomes a grander legend with every employee we hire. A very early project of a very nascent company — Ayodhya is close to our hearts. DM Kinjal Singh got in touch with the company and asked us to assist in the larger efforts of E-Governance by using our drone technology, to facilitate the District Administration and the Police in managing the Sawan Jhula Mela in the year 2016. A population influx of over 30 lakh people was expected over a few days.
The unavailability of scientific geospatial data and analysis for the local police in India creates a huge problem — the forces on the ground have no macro picture of what is happening, while the command center and planners have no visual micro picture and are missing data which should be taken into
account while planning. Our solution allows you to combine the macro and micro picture at the same time, giving live situational awareness as well as planning in a bottom-up approach.
The biggest advantage is — coordination. If there is any crowd-control situation, and the local forces need assistance, the state can send in additional troops immediately which can all be coordinated using the same command and control protocol as everybody has the same set of information and have the micro as well as the macro picture at the same time — hence saving crucial
time in such a situation, which changes the game.
There are three phases of such a large scale project- planning, simulation, and execution. We started the mapping mission several weeks in advance, by early August, the first mapping data of Ayodhya had been compiled.We gathered historical data, did flight planning, elevation modelling, GIS analysis spread over tens of flights. Using this data, we were able to create a major
Drone based Sector plan of the City of Ayodhya for advanced operations.
A city of 26 administrative sectors, we devised 5 drone sectors with overlaps to ensure maximum penetration. Ayodhya needed to be divided into sectors based on the division between major/trunk roads and side roads. Every sector was to be large enough to maintain security, surveillance and ensure efficacy of operations stressing on coordination between the different agencies on the ground and be able to follow a standard SOP in case of deployment of resources. We studied the road network and evacuation routes in each sector to carefully plan the event around infrastructural limitations.
To ensure smooth execution on the day of the event, we established a Drone Command Center in the Ram Katha Sangrahalay (Pictured below).
The function of the Drone Command (DC) was two fold:
• Establish a constant high definition live feed and digital communication, process & analyze the live data and relay/coordinate communication to the Police.
• Monitor & Manage constant flying intersecting airspaces of UAVs using commercial grade software and expertise.
Insights from the planning stage:
- Security Loopholes: High resolution Orthomosaic maps pointed out possible security loopholes localized to the city. We identified possible “pathraw” or stone-pelting hotspots and rooftops where such factors were accumulated.
- Street Width/Length: We accurately calculated the width of streets and
assessed whether a standard fire truck or ambulance will be able to reach a point of interest from a security standpoint.
- Monitoring of Narrow Lanes: Conventional methods make it very hard to install CCTV cameras in every narrow lane and corner. The high resolution maps let us plan in advance for any security situation that may arise in any such narrow or dimly-lit areas, as well as the live footage from the aerial camera while the event is in place lets us monitor all the areas at 4K
resolution from a single vantage point.
- Depth Analysis: In Ayodhya, with such crowds, the river can be dangerous. Our analysis identified the most dangerous regions which needed constant monitoring by Jal Pac units and which areas should be completely cordoned off. Using this depth measurement and analysis at centimeter level accuracy using LIDAR and visual depth sensors, we were able to accurately analyze to create a detailed plan for Ghat activity.
- Position of CCTV cameras: The elevation models pointed out the best locations for CCTV cameras for maximum viewing range and efficacy.
The positions were calculated using the highest elevation points and free-view fields. As you can see in the image below, these CCTV camera locations were assessed to be most efficient for recording the high ingress/egress zones and crowd collection points.
- Rooftop positioning of units: A common problem in such crowded situations is establishing surveillance points with humans positioned for maximum area of vision. While drones were live in the sky, they cannot replace human instinct and thus to assist their placement, we calculated free-view zones and roof-top positions where units with binoculars and weaponry could be stationed.
- Waterlogging: As the event itself was called “Saawan Mela”, and rain was expected on all 4 days, we also calculated possible water logging areas which need to be cleared in case of heavy rainfall.
- A smoothly planned event — Not a single casualty noted in 2016 (the average every year is around 30 people)
- Communication and planning on a single platform allowed for the flow of granular geographic information in a visual format. Operations of drone-surveillance are performed together with the ground surveillance, it can contribute to achieving the desired positive net-effect for national security at considerably lower cost and resources.
We recognise that the usual administrative modus operandii does not involve such excruciating aerial data collection and have still served the purpose more or less. However, the fact that an assembly of 3 million people in the small city of Ayodhya did not lead to any casualties is testament to the power of detailed planning. As India gets ready for its future role on the world stage, we must also get ready to espouse technology to solve problems unique to India.