Smart cities must begin with citizens, not from above: Industry
Calling for a bottom-up approach and not a top-down policy as of now, industry leaders have called for more and more engagement with citizens while designing and developing smart cities.
While underlining that each smart city is unique, L&T Construction chief marketing officer Joy Rajan Cheruvathoor argued that “each smart city is unique and a cookie cutter approach does not work to design them. The best way forward to achieve this is to engage the citizens better.”
Addressing the Maharashtra global investor summit here today, he said the most important thing for a smart city from an administrative perspective is to identify and prioritise the problems that directly impact the citizens. Second is applying technology to solve those problems.”
Echoing his views, BCG partner Suresh Subudhi said, “It’s imperative that government and citizens have a dialogue as the government is not equipped currently to adopt technological changes at the pace it should be.”
Cheruvathoor said since there are about 25-30 solutions typically to address issues that smart cities face, “it’s important to take into consideration citizen views.”
According to Subudhi, administrative accountability is another issue that is critical.
“While government spends hundreds of crores on infrastructure projects, there is no transparency in the way the money is deployed. Also, citizen-government dialogue is an essential element that can ensure that the right issues are tackled,” he said.
Speakers also cited cyber security as a pressing issue facing development of smart cities and called for fool-proofing the same.
Pointing out that there will be more than 500 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2030, Dina Tamimi, director of smart cities at Honeywell India urged for swift adoption of technological changes.
According to her, the speed of technological change causes a potential threat for security breaches.
“Along with smart city development, it is important to develop tight security to keep up-to-date with the security challenges and changes,” she noted.
Abhishek Lodha, managing director of Lodha Group pointed out that Maharashtra has been in the forefront as far as urban development planning is concerned.
“In the last five-seven years, Maharashtra has adopted several measures to speed up urban infrastructure development, like tweaking the urban township policy,” he said, adding while the city and the state is playing catch up, the rate of policy reforms is quick.