‘What Lagos will do with technology in 2020’
• Begins new state GIS mapping by March
• To have laid 3000 metro-fibre by year-end
• Deploys 2000 CCTV cameras for security, smart city project
If the promise of the Lagos State government is anything to go by, the year 2020, which started running today, holds greater promises for the over 21 million residents.
The Babajide Sanwo Olu-led Lagos government is hoping to reposition the state to further make it more habitable for the people, and drive investments.
According to the state, areas of focus will include security, transportation, education, road networks, smart city, cybersecurity, traffic management, among others.
To shape this new focus, the state will rely heavily on information and communications technology (ICT). Putting it in the words of the Special Adviser to Governor SanwoOlu on Innovation and Technology, Tubosun Alake, “at the centre of this new focus is technology.”
Alake said the state has come to realise that nothing can be achieved without the deployment of modern technology.
Speaking with selected media organisations, including The Guardian, Alake said technology is the pillar of all the plans of the governor. He said the deployment of technology has become critical in order to maximize the potential of the state.
Going forward, he said the state wants to bridge the gap between government and the innovation ecosystem. This, according to him, came from the discovery of the fact that there are several young people, who are tech-oriented, spotted in some areas including Yaba, where startups are nurtured.
According to him, it is not enough for the government to be innovative; it must be seen supporting innovation. He said the governor wants to support the innovation sector and makes it the next big industry in the state.
Alake said the state has four major pillars of innovation, which are access, infrastructure, funding and talents, which are broad areas for empowerment.
As part of the drive, he disclosed that the state has started the Open Government Initiative. “If you go to developed climes, government data is queryable. You can get data to know what exactly that government is doing. Hiding data, which is peculiar in Africa, has not encouraged development. So, we believe that the Open Government Initiative will provide the platform, where people can go and query government data. The initiative can also help developers to know the kind of solution that will help in resolving some of the state’s challenges. For instance, traffic management and the rest can be adequately looked into. We believe access to data would help the development of the state.”
Deployment of fibre optic cable
In the area of infrastructure, Alake informed of the metro-fibre project coming up in the state. He said the state is deploying 3000km fibre optic cable across the city.
To facilitate this project, he said the state will provide ducts infrastructure, targeted at reducing the cost of deployment for fibre operators. He disclosed that the government won’t take over the fibre-market, “no, we are reducing the cost for other operators to bring in their infrastructure. This is because the state needs more than what it can provide. So, the private sector must be empowered to be able to get to the market faster.”
The Special Adviser said in the second phase, another 3000km fibre-optic cable with ducts will be deployed, especially in the hinterland, which is expected to trigger new growth.
According to him, Lagos wants to stop indiscriminate digging of the state roads because of the infrastructure. “This is why I told you that the first 3000km of fiber optic cables, will come with a dig one strategy. So, the plan is to have ducts, the tunnels the cables can enter. This will be in place so that other telecoms companies will not have to dig again, they will just plug in their wires through the ducts, so there will be a minimal disturbance of the roads.
New GIS mapping and drone deployment
The Special Adviser said while some parts of Lagos have been mapped, some have not, and have gotten new infrastructure, which has not been captured adequately.
According to him, development is a continuum. He said the old map did not reflect the new structures, parcels of land, and the rest, “but the new mapping is to get the current status of the state. The mapping is starting in the first quarter of 2020, between January and March. We have already trained drone pilots. They are on standby.”
He explained that the state will deploy drones for the Geographic Information System (GIS) project, which will help in mapping the entire landscape of the state.
According to him, the mapping became necessary because land administration is a very critical issue in the development of the state. He said the mapping makes land administration much easier and efficient.
On other critical sectors, Alake said the mapping will also be useful in health service delivery. “For instance, should there be an epidemic, the particular area can be mapped out, quarantined and treatment is provided. Also, it can help in emergency services, should the police have access to mapped data, it will facilitate their operations.”
SmartCity Agenda and Wifi Hotspots
On the SmartCity agenda, Alake disclosed that the state is in the planning stage. He pointed out that the state just went through some number of quality control nodes to ensure proper implementation.
The Governor SanwoOlu’s Aide said the state is partnering with experts in that field. “We want the private sector to run that space. We are talking to partners like Google to provide Wi-Fi Hotspots across the state. Also, some telecoms firms are in partnership with the state government. They can manage the hotspot better, even though it will be government-financed.”
Emergency Communications Centres and security management
Alake pointed out that the security apparatus is part of the larger smart city initiatives. According to him, on top of the smart city project is a safe city. The safe city, he said, involves the deployment of about 2000 CCTV cameras across Lagos.
He said some of the cameras will come with facial or plate number recognitions, “They are all high tech cameras to monitor activities across the state so that law and order can be better administered. The first component of the Smart city project is the CCTV. This is done simultaneously with the fibre deployment.
Lagos state is a large sub-national, so it is appropriate to have two command centres in the state. We shall synergise communications to ensure that transmission between the two is seamless.
Fighting crime with technology
He revealed that the state is talking to several security experts to come up with a technology solution that will help the state improve on the security of lives and properties.
According to him, the state will work with the Police to deploy technology solution across the state. Alake said the goal is to make Lagos a safe and smart city.
“Transitioning into a smart city means that lots of things will be done online, so our cybersecurity apparatus is firm ready to tackle any lapses. We are talking to some companies that are based in Israel on cybersecurity solutions. We are also talking to local operators to come up with a unique solution for the state.
Invest in Research, Innovation
As part of the Greater Lagos initiative, Alake said the state is passionate about science, research, and innovation. Recalling, he said in 2016, records showed China had about 900,000 Patents, “we want to raise that number in Lagos. What we know is that during the same period, the state had only50 Patents. There is a huge gulf here. Any country that has lots of Patents shows that so many science activities are going on there. So, what the Governor has done is to re-ignite the Lagos State Science, Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC). What the council is focused on is to manage a part of the state budget through research and innovation. The Governor has committed N250 million seed money into the council to promote innovation in the state.
On sustaining these projects, Alake noted that the state will protect the projects. He, however, said some projects in the past are not sustained because of some reasons. These, according to him, could be that the projects were not scoped properly, or the plans for the continuity were not put in place, “which is why the state is now coming out with a new master plan.”
He disclosed that some of the plans will be monitored by the private sector to ensure sustainability.
According to him, the smart city project of the state is being implemented by the private sector, which the government will monitor.
Alake said some projects of the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s regime will be continued, while some are going to be re-scoped to fit into the agenda of the present regime.