In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequently Unlock 3.0, the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) needed a process to remotely monitor areas under its jurisdiction to ensure that the city resumed a subset of its activity in the right manner post an extended lockdown. It thus became imperative to monitor elements such as adherence to social distancing norms, non-grouping of crowds, and observance of PPE-related SOPs such as communities wearing masks, etc.
Wanting to help PCMC achieve its aforementioned goals in a safe, easy manner, Volar Alta, in collaboration with the Drone Federation of India and supported by ACT Grants, deployed its Surveillance Specialist Team and entrusting them to conduct daily drone-based surveillance in two pre-designated Zones of PCMC from July through August. The first Zone covered the localities of Pimpri, Chinchwad, Dighi, MIDC, and Bhosari, while the second Zone covered Wakad, Hinjewadi, Sanghvi, and Chikhali.
This being an unprecedented initiative by PCMC, there was naturally some skepticism around the effectiveness of our value proposition. Upon observation of the results of the mission, not only was the utility of the solution established but rather Volar Alta also received commendation by the PCMC & Police force, whose officers were some of the direct on-ground beneficiaries of our drones, as our remote surveillance enabled them to plan their resource deployment efficiently, based on real-time crowd-behavior data. Thus, what was intended to be a value addition for the civil authorities further extended to become useful to local law enforcement.
The post-project analysis revealed some interesting findings; over 80% of people who were flouting social distancing norms across the nine surveyed areas changed their walking patterns to maintain 2-3 ft distance upon realizing that low-altitude drones were observing them. The area coverage achieved by drones was at least 8x higher than what would have been achievable with manual patrolling with twice the number of human resources. This enabled easy profiling of problematic areas for necessary action of civil authorities as well as by law enforcement. Over 70% of group gatherings of more than six people, on both terraces as well as on streets, dispersed upon the realization that they were observed by low-altitude drones.
In the words of Senior Inspector Ramnath Munde from Sanghvi Police Station, “Volar Alta’s drone video surveillance has been incredibly useful for us to identify micro-localities who were the most reluctant to obey the government’s health directives about use of masks and adherence of social distancing norms. This has been a blessing at a time when our department’s resources are significantly constrained”.
Volar Alta is blessed to have had the opportunity to give back to the community in times of need and looks forward to leveraging its capabilities to achieve impact on a greater scale in the times to come.