Pilot Project 3


The city of Surat has witnessed an exponential growth since the 1960’s. The 8.2 sq km city area of 1963 has now grown to 300 sq km. The city’s population which was at 0.223 million in 1951 had grown to 0.914 million in 1981, which today has reached around 3.8 million in the original city area. With the expansion of the city to 326.5 sqkm, the population in 2010 is estimated to be 4.5 million including the newly added areas.  The growth of the city population is exacerbated by a large contingent of floating population of one million or more.

Surat witnessed three major floods in the 20th century (1968, 1994 and 1998) and recently in the year 2006. The flood of 1994 was among one of the terrible experiences as it was followed by plague. The phenomenal growth in the last four decades has expanded the city to non-residential flood prone areas on both the banks of river Tapi. Moreover, the mounting pressure of land development did not permit planners to consider flood as a serious factor until 2006 disaster.  The 2006 flood was the biggest in the last 34 years after the construction of the Ukai Dam.  The water level in the river crossed the previous highest level of 12metres (of 1968 flood) and reached 12.5metres, submerging 75-80% of the city under water. Large parts of the city were under 10-12ft of water with residents trapped in their own or neighbor’s houses and had to survive without food, drinking water, electricity and communication for a period of 72hours. It is said that 150people lost their lives in the flood and the economy came to stand still for nearly a month. In addition about 100 people are reported to have lost their lives in the post-flood epidemic of Leptospirosis. The overall losses are pegged at Rs.220 billion.  Apart from these losses, large numbers of small and large shops, commercial establishments and residential buildings in Surat have suffered additional losses. About 70,000 small and big shops and commercial establishments suffered from this event. About 6,559 houses were structurally damaged and 1,262 completely destroyed. A four storey building in Rander area also collapsed in this event. There has been considerable damage to property and equipments. Loss of work was reported to be considerable. About 77 percent of the working population is dependent on manufacturing and commerce. The loss of work was in the range of 15-30 days, exacerbated by need for attending household duties and attending the vulnerable members of the family.  

Conditions have improved in the city when compared to the year 1994 and today it stands among one of the cleanest cities in India. SMC learnt from the past disasters and thereafter invested into massive scaling up of the city’s image by providing “state of the art” urban services. While the state and the city administration have been working towards managing the floods by altering the rule levels of the dam and improving the forecasting system, Surat Municipal Corporation has made considerable efforts to develop and implement the city Disaster Management and Preparedness Plan[1].  While a people centered approach of dealing with floods is globally accepted, it is equally important to build the resilience within the overall system. A set of strategies and approaches are needed to make the City resilient and be able to prevent, mitigate and adapt to the growing concern of floods. One of the biggest challenges faced by the local government is to reduce the exposure of the vulnerable people and groups to the flood waters or any other hazard risks.  While the response capability within the SMC has been improved, the last mile connectivity issues (i.e. direct exchange of information and contact with the vulnerable people and groups) is yet to be explored and systematized into the Disaster Management and Preparedness Plan.


Flood mortality prevention is main issue, and information of vulnerable population and assets is key to prevention. The next decade will be the connectivity and information to change the risk profiles, but the cities are only started realizing this issue, but need ideas and support to achieve these.

 With a view to reduce the risk among the vulnerable people and groups located in high risk zones, SGCCI  proposed to build a spatially explicit database of vulnerable people in select high risk zones/neighborhood. This information infrastructure will aid in catering to the requirement of establishing special care during the onset of a particular event and also in mitigating the event from scaling up to a crisis situation.  . 

The ultimate purpose of this pilot project is to develop a self registration system of vulnerable people, who can be provided special care even during the emergencies. Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) in India is the world's largest integrated early childhood programme. The Health and Urban community development (UCD) department maintains database of pregnant women and infants, which can be integrated with this database. This exercise will build on existing system and will improve the quality and accessibility of data during the crisis periodAny emergency system without normal time use potential is likely to degrade and unavailable during emergencies in developing country contexts. The ICDS is a regular service, which monitors pregnant women and infants across the city.

While it may be argued that such information is private and confidential, the self registration will solve issue of intrusion of privacy. Since it will not be focused on any particular community, it’s possible misuse can be prevented and this data will be accessible only by the SMC. Also, this system can be rolled out as an emergency service for vulnerable people during the normal period, in the lines of 108 Ambulance Service already implemented across the state. With the growing number of aged population depending on the younger people working in other cities, such a normal time service is can be viable over next decade[2].  

Since 2006 floods, integration of different activities is being taken at all levels to address the gaps. The flood marking system carried across the city is a testament to the city’s level of preparedness and a reminder of flood inundation risk the city may pose in a repeat event. Climate change is likely to increase the intensity and frequency of extreme events and this may leave the region and the city of Surat more vulnerable to floods and erratic rainy season. The city and its stakeholders are learning to live with big upheaval and have shown interest to be a fort-runner by opting resilience measures so as to minimize the impact of existing/increasing risks and challenges posed by urban growth as well as climate change. 

Vulnerable groups including children, pregnant women, old age groups, physically/mentally challenged and people suffering from prolonged illness will require additional/special care. Pre-identification of such vulnerable people at a city scale will increase effectiveness of emergency services/community based disaster response teams (CDRT). This will result in increasing the efficiency of emergency services and actions during and immediately after the hours of crisis. With the advent of GPS/GIS technology and improved warning systems, the loss of lives can be minimized. Geo-coded locations will enable rescuers, relief distribution personnel, CDRT’s to pinpoint where relief should be sent and whom to evacuate first. Combined with advance warning systems, this database can help in evacuating/providing support to vulnerable population (food medicines etc), if necessary.

The overall aim of this project will be to demonstrate the effectiveness of a simple and cost effective system which can serve as a multipurpose tool for better management of emergency operations and reaching out to the needy. This will in turn aid the city managers and the community volunteers to allocate resources based on the pre-identified needs and move them to safe locations in case situation worsens. The establishment of such a system can be done with the use of technology and incorporation of suitable management options already existing as part of the city Disaster Preparedness and Response Plan.  The database will be integrated with the CBDT and monsoon preparation exercise. Also the flood prone areas can be marked by color coding so that the communities can take suitable action well in advance. Expansion of the system to whole city, internalization of the updating and management process will be done by the SMC and Civil society as part of their monsoon preparation strategies. 

There are several databases, either in paper based or electronic format, but most of them either do not cover all the individuals or updated less frequently. These databases can be effectively used to link the vulnerable persons, once the framework is worked out. This can be done in incremental mode as wand when the current/new databases are built or updated. It is possible to build a full database within a period of 2 years once the framework is ready and the ICDS can be linked with this database.

.It is worthwhile to mention that the Government of India is undertaking a massive effort to provide a biometric based Unique Identification Card (UID) for its citizens. This is being established by the Unique Identification Authority of India[3]. UID linkages are getting established with the Public Distribution System, Public Health, National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Education and other programmes (Working papers on UID Linkages: http://uidai.gov.in/). The Vulnerable population database can make provision to link to an individual’s UID number. An experiment at this scale can give the government a clear view of city’s population, the local government’s ability to target and deliver services effectively, and track demand/resource flows in normal and emergency periods across the city.


The overall Objective of the system is to provide efficient and effective tool to aid SMC/Emergency response Officials/CDRT’s in identifying the most vulnerable population in the city who may require critical care during emergencies such as floods. The sub-objectives would include:

·       Build a database of vulnerable population/groups across the city (persons who cannot move/evacuated during emergencies, without special care- pregnant women, infants, disabled and infirm people)

·       Help decision makers to pile stocks and supplies for the most needy and take informed decisions.

·       Ability to relate real-time flood information with timely evacuation/critical care support of vulnerable population/groups

·       Minimize loss of lives and sufferings of the most vulnerable groups

·       Integrate the database/set of management options with the existing ward level disaster management plan

·       Build a platform for person specific two way sms system for use during emergencies( to integrate later with URsms system)


Project Details

It is expected that the city’s flood risks as a result of urbanization and water management issues in the upstream is likely to exacerbate by climate change trends. Among the actions implemented by SMC and various stakeholders to enhance the flood preparedness, little information is available or compiled by ground surveys to identify the key vulnerable individuals in the city. These vulnerable individuals could be in large numbers who in turn would require/demand for critical care during the emergency period. The dynamic character of the vulnerable groups generally has a tendency to make the data obsolete in case they are not regularly updated. A year old data will not reflect the situation today, so the ICDS database will    integrated for information on pregnant woenm and infants while self registration will provide information on other vulnerable people(disabled, aged and infirm). Since minimal additional investments are necessary, the SMC can integrate this system without bearing huige costs and efforts to update information annually.   The existing disaster management plan has a considerable limitation for the proper identification of vulnerable individuals but the city is willing to include regular updating of database as a part of monsoon preparation and integrating ICDS database. The Urban community Development department of the SMC is a vibrant organization, which has established trust with the communities, especially poor and vulnerable groups. This institution has the capacity to update the information on annual basis.

An emergency management system with a spatially explicit database will serve better planning options for emergencies. With updates on flood forecasts,   existing flood inundation risk maps, well developed disaster preparedness/ response plan the information system will help to:

·       Determine the exact location of residential areas under high risk and vulnerable individuals

·       Identify areas needing special attention during emergencies

·       Adequate stock piling of resources including emergency supplies

·       Serve as a basis for shelter management and medical care

The spatially explicit database of vulnerable people will serve as an efficient system to provide special care during emergencies. The system shall be designed on an efficient platform which will provide to visualize information on both tabular and GIS formats. The analysis will be guided through field survey and interviews in a select project area.

The project will be piloted by UCD and few selected volunteers (managed by SGCCI) in a select neighborhoods and will initially cover about 1,000 households.

Rander, one of the most flood risk prone area, was selected by SMC for this exercise. The database of the vulnerable individuals/groups will be collected by household surveys and will feed into database management system. A unique identifier would be used for each vulnerable individual along and will be immediately made accessible to decision makers/first responders/CDRT’s.  This information can be made accessible through internet to the emergency management system of SMC on a real-time basis.

The databases created will be overlaid on GIS layer which can help the decision makers. The pilot system will be designed to bring out robustness and flexibility in its operation and scalability through the inclusion of additional target areas on a need to need basis.

The completed system will be utilized by SMC to determine appropriate intervention measures during flooding in the city as well as flood drills and emergency planning. This will lead to reduced casualties.



The following activities will be essential to implement this project

1.     Reconnoiter and Identification of the area

2.     Consultation with stakeholders 

3.     Development and pretesting of the questionnaire and other survey tools with UCD department

4.     GPS enabled Survey and data analysis

5.     Development of Secure web platform  (including server and broadband internet costs for 6 months

6.     Capacity building of SMC and Civil society staff

7.     Handing over the system and development of replication plan to be implemented by UCD Department and integration with ICDS database.



This proposal was initially suggested by SGCCI, since they have been active partners in emergency management along with SMC and is also concerned with business continuity and reduction of absenteeism after the disasters. SGCCI has taken many initiatives in ensuring business continuity after floods and serial bomb events and taken preventive action to manage the many challenges.

This pilot was discussed in the CAC meetings and was accepted as a viable pilot project that can potentially benefit vulnerable population.  Integration of ICDS was suggested by SMC since it can be used during normal periods (regular updation of infant and pregnant women database) to improve ICDS monitoring.

Key stakeholders include Surat Municipal Corporation – UCD, Emergency Services, Public Health, Disaster Management, IT, SGCCI, TARU and Rockefeller Foundation. SGCCI will be over all in-charge of the pilot and would coordinate with SMC and the key stakeholder departments as well as manage the ground level surveys and support the whole exercise at Surat. 

TARU has experience in developing emergency management related tools. As a partner to the ACCCRN initiative, TARU will provide all necessary technical support towards the design of GIS and database  component of  this project. The project based activities will be undertaken in consultation and close coordination with the officials of SMC (Emergency Services Dept, Public Health and Urban Community Development Dept.) 


This system will be tested using the surveys, but it can then be linked to the demographic database based on Unique Identity system and can potentially be expanded by the city Urban Community development and Census, Ration card and Voter database systems Regular updates can be made compulsory before each monsoon period so that the citizens with support from UCD can update information. The stakeholder departments will also include Health and Family Welfare, Water supply as well as Civil supplies. Once the system is established, these agencies will start using and upgrading the data. The final web interface will be housed/ linked to the existing SMC website and users can update the information through certified internet kiosks also, saving time and efforts. The cross validation systems can be put in place by the user departments


1.     A spatially explicit database of 1,000 households along with the vulnerable populations, including contact details

2.     Capacity building exercises for various stakeholders

3.     A web based information system of these households and vulnerable people, including contact details

4.     Replication plan to extend the pilot to the whole city.

Proposed Funding Pattern

A budget of approx 30,000USD is anticipated towards the development of this system.  The design of the system will take about 2 months and will be kept operational for a period of 6 months before fully transferring to SMC. The module/tool will take into consideration of future expansion to all flood prone areas of the city.  If implemented before monsoon, it can be fully tested and improvement, if any,  can be included before handing over. As a next step, this bridge project/exercise can be extended in to other areas after training of the concerned stakeholders.

Implementation and management arrangements

SGCCI will manage the project in coordination with SMC with specialized technical support from TARU.   The database and WEBGIS will be tested and on successful operation will be transferred to SMC for further replication and upscaling. TARU and SGCCI will provide necessary training as part of effective handover process to SMC.  TARU will play the role of advisory support towards the implementation of this bridge/pilot project. The system will be housed in UCD/Health department with access to Health, UCD and Fire and Emergency Services department.

[2] Many Surati residents have their sons/daughters working outside the city as well as other countries, and such service may be financially viable over time with cross subsidization.

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