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  • India: How ‘smart city’ Chennai can be more resilient to disasters such as 2015 floods

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India: How ‘smart city’ Chennai can be more resilient to disasters such as 2015 floods

Source(s):  Citizen Matters

By Varun Sukumar


Smart infrastructure combines physical and digital infrastructure to provide information to enable better decision making, cheaper, faster and more efficient. Digital infrastructure is about connectivity and usability. One of the key aspects of any smart infrastructure framework is to better understand the existing infrastructures which can provide information to design and deliver new infrastructure. 


With the Chennai floods from a few years back exposing the lack of proper infrastructure to deal with heavy rains and subsequent flooding, the city would do well to use digital infrastructure to gauge the real time status of various drainage systems throughout the city. Couple this with real time weather analysis, it could help in preparedness. 

One example can be found in Buenos Aires, Brazil. In the aftermath of severe flooding in 2013, the city decided to take action using digital infrastructure. The city government partnered with SAP to put sensors into drains and drainage pipelines. This meant real time data in terms of any blockages or hindered flow could be tracked for more than 1500 kilometres of pipelines. Chennai does have such plans under the TN-SMART system, but they aren’t under the realm or framework of the official smart city plan.  

Similarly, another plan by the State government is to have real-time flood forecasting. This project announced in 2018, and delayed by a year, is being funded by the World Bank and aims to help local officials gather information on possible flood prone areas including the Adyar river and the Cooum. In the aftermath of the 2015 floods, the Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Authority (TNSDMA) mapped the city to find more than 300 areas that were identified to be prone to floods. 


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  • Publication date 24 Aug 2019

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