The concept of smart cities in India – Real or not?
Now is certainly a new era of smart city development. Several cities are adopting the philosophy and citizens are becoming the main stakeholder in the process. Public-private partnership is assuming a new dimension and it is a great moment for the Indian cities to embrace the concept of SMART CITIES.
It is like a perfect storm, where we have a fast growing urban population and challenges related to huge infrastructure.
We deeply believe that India has all the elements to achieve the Smart Cities mission goals and succeed.
It is a huge competition for municipal leaders to promote economic opportunity in India and produce better results for residents. In 2015, 98 cities competed in the first round, and the 20 best proposals received funding from the Ministry of Urban Development.
Let us see the challenges involved in the competition for smart cities.
Less significance on large scale current geo-processible vector data sets: For the monitoring and execution of a project like smart city, a large scale spatial data of 1:5000 to 1: 1000 range is the fuel for driving the smart city vehicle. For collecting such data sets, there has not been seen much efforts and in its absence, it is difficult to buy sensors and high-end gadgets, create IT infrastructure and even design the various processes.
Standardization of various subsystem: Another challenge is how well the various subsystems of the smart city will integrate with minimum human interference.
No Institutional arrangement: In order to drive smart cities, Modi government at center has the vision and the optimism but the city governance is a state subject and is generally under an elected Mayor and the governing council. The Central government can not enforce, it can just enlighten, thus there is a requirement of an institutional arrangement for planning, implementing and making it sustainable.
Involvement of Citizen Groups: There is a great need of inviting citizen groups from various geographies of a city to help and strategize in planning, execution and monitoring of smart city project. As the cost of infrastructure for smart cities is substantially high, there should be enough encouragement from city governments for locals to provide innovative solutions for the improvement of the city.
One of the main reasons to plan smart cities is rural-urban migration which is pegged at over 300 million people in the next 30 years. The discussion about the smart city is not just related to megacities, but also to small villages. Internationally, countries like England and Italy has been talking about the next generation sustainable communities to progress in small towns. In the near future, the smart city is a very certain reality if the above-mentioned challenges are addressed with active participation of the masses.
By the end of 2017, the process of selecting 100 cities will be completed by the government under its programme to transform India’s urban landscape.