For concept, the designation of a smart city refers to boosting the excellence and feat of urban life by enhancing facilities aiming to improve the class of livelihood in society through smart technology. However, there is no universally accepted definition and it varies from place to place. Government of India (GOI) launched the Smart Cities mission on 25th June, 2015 to reform 100 of India’s major cities to Smart Cities.
Features of Smart Cities:
The GOI focused on some typical features regarding the comprehensive development of Smart Cities in India, some of which are:
- Efficient Usage of Land: Idea is to promote mixed land use and develop unplanned areas with a series of attuned activities enabled by the respective state bye-laws to adapt the change.
- Housing: To expand housing opportunities with minimal land use and effective developing plans.
- Develop In-house localities: Idea encompasses development of existing roads, even building new network equipped with footpaths. Building household and administrative services in close vicinity to boost local economy and promote easy transport which eventually will reduce congestion, air pollution and resource depletion.
- Open Space Creation: To maintain and enlarge open spaces, like parks, playgrounds etc. to endorse eco-balance by diminishing urban heat effects and improve life quality of the citizens.
- Ease of Governance: This is mainly to promote hassle-free online services and educate people about its advantages thereby bring accountability and transparency.
- City Identity: The idea is to promote the name of a city based on its local cuisine, strength, education, arts and craft, culture, hosiery, textile etc.
- Area Based Development: Develop overall infrastructure and services of an area for its development and betterment by means of smart solutions. Strengthening public transport system and promoting the same with cheaper service cost is also another part.
India has witnessed major urbanization in last few decades with a major populace entered into the urban life, burdening the systems of existing cities with traffic, congestion, pollution, supply limitation, poor infrastructure, etc. which therefore needs a major technological transformation for its own sustenance and vital services. The country is in an urgency to develop 500 new cities in the next two decades to meet these accelerating challenges. Under the Smart City program, currently cities are being selected through a competitive process, based on comprehensive resident rendezvous, leveraging technological power at our disposal for funding.
The Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, envisages that in current advanced era, “new technologies and platforms will increasingly enable citizens to engage with governments, voice their opinions, coordinate their efforts and even circumvent the supervision of public authorities”. This phenomenon has been impregnated in the perception, intend, and accomplishment of India’s Smart Cities Mission.
The Smart City program is going to enable real time monitoring and expeditious incident monitoring system in city operations through its Smart City Centre (SCC). The main function of the SCC will be like our central nervous system that will facilitate centralized monitoring and quick resolution through digital technologies, like GPS, CCTV, sensors that will generate the database for real time solutions. The efficacy of SCCs will advance incorporating more services.
The mission has also enabled to facilitate an ecosystem where an integration of technology, engineering and construction companies is taking place. Moreover, under the flagship, the startup companies are being promoted and given chance to work with world’s leading companies and system integrators of Indian entities. Therefore, it is granting a fillip to the entrepreneurial courage of its residents, thereby creating chances of employment and betterment of lifestyle.
The results are getting visible in cities like, Pune, Naya Raipur, Rajkot, Vishakhapattanam etc. In Pune, flood sensors have been installed for auto alarming and immediate response mechanism. In Naya Raipur, high quality infrastructure, economic, social, cultural and technical facilities are being amalgamated to ensure quality lifestyle of its citizens. In Rajkot, drastic drop of crime rate (by 18%) has been observed accompanied by reduction in instances of littering, urination in public etc. that indicates behavioral change. Similarly in Vishakhapattanam, CCTV and GPS enabled buses could be tracked online that eventually have improved the transport service and its timings.
It is just a commencement of a long withstanding journey and with the burgeoning assistance of society, NGOs, academic institutions, industry, and, most importantly, the citizens of this country, the transform of urban landscape of India is just a matter of time.