The Challenge of Urbanization
Cities are considered as engines of growth for the economy of every nation. Presently, 31% of India’s population lives in urban areas and contributes 63% of India’s GDP (Census 2011). With increasing urbanization, by 2030, urban areas are expected to house 40% of India’s population and contribute 75% of India’s GDP. To sustain this population, providing good quality of life and attracting people and investments to the city is essential. Additionally, comprehensive development of physical, institutional, social, and economic infrastructure of a city is required. Urbanization will lead to economic development of society. Industries also migrate to cities due to easy access to labor and other factors of production. Creation of Smart Cities is a step in that direction.
People migrate to cities primarily for earning means of livelihood. To support their happy and comfortable living, they will need good quality housing, cost efficient physical and social infrastructure such as water, sanitation, electricity, clean air, education, healthcare, security, entertainment, etc.
What is a Smart City?
Hon’ble Prime Minister has defined Smart City as “Smart city is a city that provides more than what a citizen expects. Before he wants it, we provide it”.
So, what is a Smart City? There is no universally accepted definition of a Smart City. It means different things to different people. Moreover, each city is unique. Therefore, the concept of a Smart City, varies from city to city and country to country, depending on the level of development, willingness to change and reform, in addition to resources and aspirations of the city residents. A Smart City would have a different connotation in India than, say, Europe. Even in India, there is no one way of defining a Smart City.
For Example, if you were to go to Chicago and ask them what a smart city stands for, they would simply say it in four words, “Technology, Open, everyone, and Chicago”. It signifies technology used via open platforms for everyone in Chicago city. But in India people have different perception of smart cities based on different set of challenges such as Poverty, Unemployment, Aging population, Crime, Slum proliferation , water scarcity etc., For some, it means
Better Hygiene, and Sanitation in Public Areas
More parking in residential areas
Removal of encroachments,
Wi-Fi Connectivity across the city, door to door garbage collection etc.
Some definitional boundaries are essential to guide cities in this mission. In the imagination of any city dweller in India, the picture of a Smart City contains a wish list of infrastructure and services that describe his or her level of aspiration. To provide for the aspirations and needs of the citizens, urban eco-system is represented by the four pillars of comprehensive development — institutional, physical, social and economic infrastructure. This can be a long term goal and cities can work towards developing such comprehensive infrastructure incrementally, adding on layers of smartness.
In the approach to the Smart Cities Mission, the objective is to promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to the citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of Smart Solutions. The focus is on sustainable and inclusive development and the idea is to look at compact areas, create a replicable model which will act as a lighthouse to other aspiring cities. The Smart Cities Mission of the Government is a bold, new initiative. It is meant to set examples that can be replicated both within and outside the Smart City, catalyzing the creation of similar Smart Cities in various regions and parts of the country.
Key Parameters of Smart Cities
Let us have a look at the parameters that characterize a Smart City. Smart cities are connected and instrumented cities built with smart technologies and intelligent digital solutions. The core infrastructure elements in a Smart City would include:
Smart Water Management – Adequate and 24 X 7 water supply
Smart Energy – Assured electricity supply
Smart Transportation – Efficient urban mobility and public transport
Smart Building – Affordable housing, especially for the poor
Smart IT & Communication – Robust IT connectivity and digitalization
Smart Governance – Good Governance especially e-Governance and citizen participation
Smart Environment – Sustainable environment. Good quality of air.
Smart Health – Multifaceted, mobile clinical decision support system (CDSS)
Smart Education – High-quality student learning, adaptive, and efficient
Safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly people
Sanitation, including solid waste management
Strategy for Smart City Implementation
There are three important components of the program announced by Prime Minister. They are Greenfield Development, Redevelopment, and Retrofits.
Greenfield Development will introduce most of the Smart Solutions in a previously vacant area (more than 250 acres) using innovative planning, planned financing and planned implementation tools (e.g. land pooling or land reconstitution) with provision for affordable housing, especially for the poor. Greenfield developments are required around the cities in order to address the needs of the expanding and migrating population. One well-known example is the GIFT City in Gujarat.
The redevelopment will effect a replacement of the existing built-up environment and enable co-creation of a new layout with enhanced infrastructure using mixed land use and increased density. Redevelopment envisages an area of more than 50 acres, identified by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in consultation with citizens. For instance, a new layout plan of the identified area will be prepared with mixed land-use, higher FSI, and high ground coverage. One example of the redevelopment model is the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Project in Mumbai (also called the Bhendi Bazaar Project)
Retrofits (Pan City) will introduce planning in an existing built-up area to achieve Smart City objectives, along with other objectives, to make the existing area more efficient and livable. In retrofitting, an area consisting of more than 500 acres will be identified by the city in consultation with citizens. Depending on the existing level of infrastructure services in the identified area, and the vision of the residents, the City Administrators will prepare will prepare a strategy to become smart.
Involvement of Various Agencies
Participation of the private sector allows the government to tap into the private sector’s capacity to innovate. Greater involvement of the private sector in the delivery of services is one of the important instruments as it enables a higher level of efficiency.
Over last few months, several professional agencies made presentations in the Ministry highlighting different aspects of what constitutes a smart city. Globally renowned companies like KPMG, PWC, and Accenture have presented a wide range of features that are the hallmark of a smart city. Leading experts like Dr. Keshav Verma have also presented some of the important features of a smart city. Leading IT companies like IBM, CISCO, WIPRO etc., have made presentations on the role that IT can play in developing smart cities. Following authorities are involved in taking Smart City concept forward
Ministry of Urban Development
Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate change
Ministry of New & Renewable Energy
Department of Electronics & Information Technology (Ministry of Commerce & Industry)
Department of Industrial Policy & promotion (Ministry of Commerce & Industry)
Naya Raipur Development Authority (NRDA)
National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA)
National Institute for Smart Government (NISG)
Smart City Participants
The participants in Smart City Program would include:
Integrators – Smart City integrators are project integrators that bring together various sectors of the smart city through pre-packaged platforms, thereby providing a vinified, holistic, and end-to – end integration of multiple sectors. For Ex: IBM, Oracle, Accenture, Persistent, etc.
Network Service Providers – Smart City network providers offer collaborative networks, data analytics and enterprise working solutions that connect people, assets, systems, and products by leveraging on their networking and M2M capabilities. For Ex: Cisco, Verizon, Ericsson, AT&T, Persistent etc.
Pure-Play Product Vendors – Smart City product vendors provide hard assets, such as smart meters and distribution devices that operate as the main nodes of connectivity. For Ex: Eaton, Honeywell, ABB, Schneider Electric, Siemens AG, etc.
Managed Service Providers – Smart City managed service providers offer round-the-clock monitoring, complete management, compliance monitoring, and on-site consulting. These services are provided either in-house, co-managed or are completely outsourced (third-party providers). For Ex: IBM, Serco, SAIC, Infosys, Persistent etc.
Lastly, what truly defines a smart city? “Is it Technology used by the people or people using the technology”. We leave this question unanswered and allow you to introspect OR “Is it Technology or the people”. I say BOTH!
The dream for a real smart city could only be realized when people engage with the City administrators and use technology wisely. The future citizens of today can better understand