Smart Cities – This is the prevailing hot topic in the country right now. The emergence of smart city challenge and the concept at large had gathered major interest among the citizens and the veterans. The need to make India ‘smart city ready’ and equipped is quickly dawning and transcending. 100 cities in India have been identified to be developed as the first generation smart cities. The topic has now been thrown wide open for debate.
Emergence of Smart Cities – Issues and Challenges, a recent conference held at future smart city Visakhapatnam was a useful podium where experts came forth to share their ideas, experience and most importantly, best practices that can make the concept practically workable and close to reality. The four day programme saw the students of SPJS and industry experts come join up together to understand, exchange and dissect the knowledge on smart cities.
Smart Cities and Indian Urbanization
There is no denying that the rate of urbanization in the country has picked up massive momentum in the last few decades. We can start analyzing the specs from the year 1991, when the economic growth, reforms and markets were peaking. The urban section of India now stands at 30%. When we divide this further into sub groups, young population takes over in majority. There are many areas of focus that still need a lot of work in this urban percentage.
Given that technology is increasingly on the rise, India is already being reckoned as one of the prominent ‘tech hubs’ in the world. However, the experts throw light on real challenges that still exist at the base level. In order to make the country achieve a ‘developed’ tag, smart cities could be a major governing factor. This depends largely on how the ‘concept’ of smart cities is approached at.
Responsibility of the Indian Government
The prime agenda of the Indian government is to develop smart cities that improve the standards of living and environment. This includes making the city self reliant and sustainable on all parameters. Concentrating solely on advancement and technology will simply not accomplish the mission, say these experts.
Basic Essence of Smart Cities – Abandoned
The basic foundation of smart city concept has been largely abandoned, said Mr M G Devasahayam, while addressing the group during the conference. The former IAS officer and renowned economist-administrator who was involved in major Government projects threw light on critical grey areas surrounding the matter.
Smart Cities – Growth Vs Development
Great importance has been laid on understanding two factors that play a significant role in the smart city foundation – growth and development. While growth part looks at generation of more jobs, managing avenues for growing population, income creation, quality of living etc, development is all about equitable change in community, utilization of resources in functioning of institutions and distribution of resources.
Industry experts also had varied views on the matter, all pointing towards realistic measures that can come into play. “One problem in the planning of smart cities is the digital divide – digital adaptability across all sections of the society. NGOs and digitally adapted citizens have to come forward and volunteer towards addressing this divide. Also, smart city plan is not going to be a one stop solution for all the issues, such as water scarcity, traffic etiquette and cleanliness” says Winny Patro, Co Founder and Director of Marketenomics Digital.
Development Model for Smart Villages
Mr M G Devasahayam stressed on workable model for smart villages. Skill development and optimal utilization of local resources based on the availability matters in the design of smart villages. He shared that while the concept was already developed in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the focus on this area slowly vanished, thanks to the centralization. Decisions have to be made in between economic development, existing environment and basic social needs.
Best Practices For Smart Cities
Skill development of exiting local talent and resources
Combination of smart and reliable resources to make the smart city a more ‘natural city’
Technology and smartness go hand in hand – concentration to build a robust ecosystem that takes into consideration all the factors and not just technology and progress.
There remains a lot of work ahead for the Indian government, right from incorporating all the holistic measures to upping the technology that meets the everyday needs of people who live in these cities. A combination of intelligent, combined and utility driven measures.
A smart city will definitely take eight to ten years to be build from scratch. Other aspects such as economic dynamics and avenues come later into the picture.The authorities in charge have to understand latest and relevant technologies, which then have to be customized and used efficiently. Factors like location, topography, and natural resources of the area should be concentrated upon.