Rising Aspirations: Moving towards Smart Cities

Rising Aspirations: Moving towards Smart Cities
Feb 2019 , by , in Latest News

Smart Cities Mission launched in 2015 aspires to improve the urban development and create 100 equitable and sustainable cities that will have smart infrastructure and governance. Some cities have already shaped up, others are following suit.  This New Year, we take a look at what we have achieved and what is the future course of action.

Text: Brij Pahwa

Almost anyone living in a ‘normal’ city now wants their city to be in the government’s scheme of smart cities. Well, why wouldn’t they? Smart cities are synonymous with Smart infra, smart transport and smart utilities to name a few. The first of its kind initiative in India, the most significant aspect of the Smart City Mission was that selection timelines for the ambitious 100 Smart Cities were met without any extensions. All nominating proposed to develop better water and power supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, IT connectivity and e-governance.

There is growing realisation that the citizens would benefit enormously if cities are managed and governed smartly. While, the state governments are progressing on this front through the formation of SPVs, the citizens too are proactively engaging in the process through committees and citizen bodies. This year is surely expected to see fulfilment of aspirations of people of many Indian states as they march towards modernization.

Government plans to implement smart cities in existing urban areas by either Retrofitting already built up urban centres with smart city parameters or Redeveloping existing urban areas to allow a new layout that supports smart city goals. In addition, Greenfield development will set up a smart city in a underdeveloped area.

Smart Transport

With the burgeoning problem of traffic across all major cities around the world, smart transport solutions are one of the pre requisites for any upcoming smart city. This includes using ICT (Information & Communications Technology) solutions for faster, easier and cheaper commuting by public transport to mitigate city congestion.

Cities of Pune, Jaipur, Surat, Davanagere, Indore, Belagavi, Udaipur and Chennai are focusing on ICT solutions for urban mobility. Ahmedabad’s Intelligent Transport Management System (ITMS) to deal with the city’s already burdened public buses adopted 5 IOT driven smart parameters – Automated Fare Collections Units, Automatic Vehicle Location System, Passenger Information System, Vehicle Planning Schedule and Dispatch System and Depot Management System.   According to Prof. H. M. Shivanand Swamy, Executive Director, Centre of Excellence in Urban Transport, Ahmedabad BRT is the first bus based transit system in India to have implemented off-board fare collection system similar to metro systems along with the most innovative electronic docking system using RFID technique. “Janmarg operates at 2 minutes frequency in peak hours and 10 minutes frequency in off-peak hours. This has been made possible through fine blend of automation, which a result of implementation of ITMS, he said.

Smart Infrastructure

Smart infrastructure makes a city more habitable from smart governmental centres and services, smart residential and commercial planning and resource planning. For example, Smart poles installed in Delhi’s central hub Connaught Place track air quality, double up as CCTV cameras and also provide free wifi services. The poles also work as streetlights.

On road to completion are 4 ‘Smart City’ projects in Kakinada, Visakhapatnam, Tirupati and Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh, and greater Warangal and Karimnagar in Telangana state expected to be completed by financial year 2020-21. “The prime focus is to meet the National Service-Level Benchmarks (SLBs) by improving the key service-level indicators for delivering the desired outcome to the public,” Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development P Narayana . NEC Corporation and AP Technology Services Limited (APTS), a wholly owned state company of Andhra Pradesh, have signed a MoU to collaborate in the areas of information technology for smart city initiatives in the state. NEC will provide leading solutions and technologies, including facial recognition systems and automated fingerprint identification systems.

Smart Governance

The pan-city development envisages the applications of select smart solutions to an already existing infrastructure incorporating technology to make current systems and solutions better. Andhra Pradesh State Area Wide Network is a prime example of smart government led planning. Under the plan, the State Head Quarters (SHQ) of Andhra Pradesh are connected with 23 District Head Quarters (DHQs) and DHQs to respective 1088 Mandal (Revenue Unit) Head Quarters. The system, in totality, connects 5690 government offices across the state and helps in smooth exchange of information. The data centre provides 50 terabytes of storage space expandable up to 500 terabytes.

Nagpur is the first city of its size in the country to outsource water supply to a private operator under the PPP model for 25 years. The main objective was to provide 24-hour 100% safe drinking water to 100% population including slum dwellers within five years. The second objective was to reduce non-revenue water to below 25% in 10 years. “The project includes management of the entire water cycle from production, treatment, transport, storage and delivery to the customer’s tap as the priority is to tackle water scarcity,” said Abhijit Bangar, Nagpur’s municipal Commissioner

Dholera Smart City in Gujarat, a Greenfield project is adopting digital transformation, high-end technology for uninterrupted power supply, quality water, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) enabled systems for e-governance and Central Integrated Operations Centre – a utility data centre, city-wide network and city dashboards with single window clearances and e-land allotment systems. This is just one of the many smart cities coming up such as Maneshwar – Bawal, Haryana, Jodhpur-Pali Marwar, Khushkhera-Bhiwadi- Neemrana , Rajasthan, , Pithampur-Dhar-Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, Shendra-Bidkin  and Dighi Port, Maharashtra.

Collaborative Development

Smart and sustainable cities will define the future of Indian urban development. The marriage of innovation with technology with greener environment and liveability is what citizens are looking forward to in coming years.  As Anshuman Magazine, Chairman, India and South East Asia at CBRE points out that Smart real estate  is not only about data driven smart buildings but includes environment friendly development that includes rain water harvesting system i, solar panels, low emission windows, reflective pains among others.

Citizen participation is essential to make sure that all segments of the society get included and are benefited in smart development projects Jai Prakash Shivahare, Managing Director, Dholera Industrial City Development Limited (DICDL) and CEO, Dholera Special Investment Regional Development Authority rightly explains that the Smart city as not just the development of a grand project. “It’s the development of the people living in the area transforming the face of urbanisation in modern India.”

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