The ‘100 Smart Cities Mission’ initiated by Union Government of India under Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi aims to build 100 smart cities across the country. Launched in June 2015 the Ministry of Urban Development published its Smart Cities Mission & Guidelines. The document points out that there is no single, universally accepted definition of a ‘smart city’. It can mean different things to different people, from city to city and country to country.
The objective of the Mission is to ‘promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and the application of smart solutions. Within this context, cities must develop plans for its urban ecosystem, the institutional, physical, social and economic infrastructure. Central to the ambition of a smart city are people. The focus must be on delivering improvements to cities that benefit citizens, improving the quality of life, health, opportunity and that enable them to engage more effectively in their communities. The benefits of smart technology must be real and felt by citizens. For example, providing reliable power, high quality water and sanitation, efficient transport services across modes, safer streets, reduced congestion and improved air quality. These are the issues citizens care about and the ultimate driving goal of any smart city.
The Government’s focus is rightly on developing sustainable and inclusive development in compact areas. Equally important is the ability to create programs and projects that are replicable both across the city and beyond its boundaries in other aspiring cities. The core infrastructure elements in a smart city are set out below. The typical features of comprehensive development in smart city are described by the Government as:
- Promoting mixed land use in area-based
- Housing and inclusiveness
- Creating walkable localities
- Preserving and developing open spaces
- Promoting a variety of transport options
- Making governance citizen-friendly and cost effective
- Giving an identity to the city
- Applying Smart Solutions to infrastructure and services in area-based development in order to make them better
Cities are typically regarded as engines of growth and development, with roughly over 63 percent of India’s GDP is contributed by 31% of India’s population living in urban areas. By 2030 urban areas are expected to house 40% of India’s population and contribute 75% of India’s GDP. Such a situation demands planning and developing of smart cities and infrastructure. This is essential to facilitate our economy’s growth, while also providing an ecosystem that offers a high quality of life. The relatively low starting rates of urbanization allow India to benefit from recent advances in technology. Advances in electrification, automation and digitalization provide an opportunity for a more intelligent approach to developing our cities. These advances allow us to get more from our existing infrastructure and ensure that we maximize what we get out of ‘new’ infrastructure.
The Urban Development has so far finalized list of sixty cities for the Smart City implementation initiative in three stages from the list of 100 cities which were selected earlier through a City Challenge competition. The remaining 40 cities are expected to be announced in the year 2017-2018.
The government’s focus is rightly on developing sustainable and inclusive development in compact areas. Equally important is the ability to create programs and projects that are replicable both across the city and beyond its boundaries in other aspiring cities.
There are three components that need to come together to enable core infrastructure elements to create a smart city. Firstly, the technology deployed to deliver the core infrastructure verticals. The communication and integration of technologies delivers the smart city evolution. These smart technologies achieve significant improvements in efficiency with relatively small levels of investment. There have been significant advances and improvements in technologies available to provide power generation and transmission or transport systems. Train automation and control technologies increase capacity by up to 30 percent and can significantly reduce energy consumption. The other elements are connectivity across core infrastructure elements, while both physical and e-governance are also integral components towards becoming truly smart. They allow infrastructure to work harder, giving additional benefit that would not otherwise be achievable. This additional benefit through smart technology could be addressed as ‘the smart 30 percent’. Smart infrastructure uses advances in sensors, controls, and software. This allows cities, service providers and citizens to access the full potential of both existing and new urban infrastructure systems by enabling increased intelligence and transparency. Such a benefit allows for informed decision making. The second benefit is the possibility of integration.
This will allow information to be shared across systems and organizations thus eliminating while also ensuring optimized performance. And finally, the gain of automated processes can help boost efficiency and reduce cost.