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We have seen Digital India, Make in India and Startup India Standup India, they are all elements of one main system, that is to attain that developed nation status. Before giving out the details of another element of this mission, try to define SMART! and the really smart ones know that there cannot be a single definition for that and it differs according to the scenario it is being defined in. The same holds for SMART CITY too, the Business Dictionary defines smart city as
“A developed urban area that creates sustainable economic development and high quality of life by excelling in multiple key areas; economy, mobility, environment, people, living, and government. Excelling in these key areas can be done so through strong human capital, social capital, and/or Information and Communication Technological (ICT) infrastructure.”
Now, that’s a broad definition, and it is pretty much states that with so much advancements in the technology, it would be wonderful if cities become smart enough to talk and give live status updates about everything that is happening within the city at any particular instant of time. But, for a developing country like India, the definition slightly varies; the Indian Government launched Smart Cities Mission in June, 2015 under the Ministries of Urban Development. According to India, the definition of Smart City is
“Smart City offers sustainability in terms of economic activities and employment opportunities to a wide section of its residents, regardless of their level of education, skills or income levels”
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, catalysing the creation of similar Smart Cities in various regions and parts of the country. Althought it looks like an easily achievable task according to the theoretical Indian definition, it is not so practically. The government has taken various steps to empower the entrepreneurs, technologists, and common citizens; it is their collective effort that would help to achieve the smart city mission.
Why Smart City?
According to 2011 Census report, nearly 31% of India’s current population lives in urban areas and contributes 63% of India’s GDP. The globalisation has opened up gates to economical and technological changes and urban areas are expected to house 40% of India’s population and contribute 75% of India’s GDP by 2030. As the migration continues, cities are facing the challenges of competing to the global standards and simultaneously adopting sustainable development.
The objective is to promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of ‘Smart’ Solutions. A comprehensive development of infrastructural, institutional, social and economical growth constitutes the major part of sustainable development and this can be achieved by integrating the governmental plans to suit the requirements of the urban dwellers, and technology plays a major role in this integration.
How to be a Smart City?
The focus is on sustainable and inclusive development and the idea is to look at compact areas, create a replicable model which will act like a light house to other aspiring cities. In answer to how to be a smart city? For a moment, let’s try to come up with a step by step procedure for converting an urban city into a smart city. First, a potential city preferably an already established metropolitan is chosen and the day to day problems faced by the citizens are listed and prioritized. Then, we establish a vision and mission statement as to how those problems are going to be addressed and solved, this vision and mission statement should ensure business investments, political support and also encourage residents of the city to work for a common welfare. Hence it is a collective effort from all the residents of the city and they must be reminded that it is their responsibility and pride to stay in a smart city.
Guidelines from the Government
The government of India has given a few core fundamental requisites that are to be included during the transformation of a city to smart city. They include:
From the illustrated list, it is evident that smart cities can make the lives of citizens better by bringing every black and white documents online, this creates better transparency amongst the residents and government officials, there would be more number of engagements and not just long standing queues outside government offices. The waste discharged from the households and commercial areas are properly treated before they are allowed to mix with the natural resources and also to recycle them so they can be utilised for conversion into energy, fuel or treated as compost. The water and energy management will look into various aspects like pollution, quality, renewability and preventive maintenance. Smart cities will pave way to less congestion in the cities with an intelligent traffic management system and better mobility, it will also facilitate improvement in hyperlocal knowledge with respect to trade, medical, man power, education etc.
Advantages of Smart City
According to the government, the various features and benefits of comprehensive smart cities can be listed as:
- Promoting mixed land use in area-based developments planning for ‘unplanned areas’ containing a range of compatible activities and land uses close to one another in order to make land use more efficient. The States will enable some flexibility in land use and building bye-laws to adapt to change.
- Housing and inclusiveness expand housing opportunities for all.
- Creating walkable localities reduce congestion, air pollution and resource depletion, boost local economy, promote interactions and ensure security. The road network is created or refurbished not only for vehicles and public transport, but also for pedestrians and cyclists, and necessary administrative services are offered within walking or cycling distance.
- Preserving and developing open spaces parks, playgrounds, and recreational spaces in order to enhance the quality of life of citizens, reduce the urban heat effects in Areas and generally promote eco-balance.
- Promoting a variety of transport options Transit Oriented Development (TOD), public transport and last mile para-transport connectivity.
- Making governance citizen-friendly and cost effective increasingly rely on online services to bring about accountability and transparency, especially using mobiles to reduce cost of services and providing services without having to go to municipal offices; form e-groups to listen to people and obtain feedback and use online monitoring of programs and activities with the aid of cyber tour of worksites.
- Giving an identity to the city based on its main economic activity, such as local cuisine, health, education, arts and craft, culture, sports goods, furniture, hosiery, textile, dairy, etc.
- Applying Smart Solutions to infrastructure and services in area-based development in order to make them better. For example, making Areas less vulnerable to disasters, using fewer resources, and providing cheaper services.
For further info on Governments’ guidelines on 100 Smart Cities project, check out the link!