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Connected Cities: India's 100 Smart Cities Project

India's 100 smart cities should be self-sustaining with renewable energy like solar, wind, etc.; effective water and waste management, efficient transport management, so that environmental pollution is minimized and provides a healthy place for citizens

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The smart cities mission was launched by the Government of India in 2015 to develop 100 cities across the country making them citizen friendly, sustainable and provide a high quality of life. The Ministry of Urban Development is responsible for driving the program in collaboration with state governments of respective cities, with funding from the Government of India, State Governments and Public-Private-Partnerships. While the program is aimed at developing the cities with Information Technology (IT) as the backbone, it also presents a great opportunity for the cities to upgrade the physical infrastructure to make them sustainable and smart.

Though the term 'smart city' can have many definitions, it essentially means to provide smart infrastructure and services that are citizen friendly. This includes focus on providing basic resources, sustainable city planning, effective transport system, safety and security of citizens and speedy governance. An important aspect of smart cities will be real time monitoring of the various systems so that they are connected and information flow between different systems can provide valuable feedback for fine tuning and improvement of systems. Real time data on electricity and water consumption can identify opportunity for savings and help in plugging leakages. Real time data on transportation system can help commuters plan their travel in a better way, and help optimize the number of vehicles by the transportation authority.

Smart cities not only help in improving the experience of citizens, but they also contribute significantly in improving environmental sustainability. One of the most important aspects of a smart city is to utilize available resources efficiently. Availability of essential resources will be a challenge in the future owing to rapid growth of cities. So, smart and sustainable infrastructure is essential to ensure effective distribution and management of various services. Sustainable design of buildings will ensure reduced consumption of power and water. Rooftop rainwater harvesting can meet most of the requirements of a household for the monsoon months in India, but is not being followed in many cases. Waste water treatment and use of recycled water will become increasingly important in the future to meet the needs of people. Currently non availability of monitoring and data is one of the causes of inefficiencies in the system.

Implementation of Smart city projects should be driven effectively and should give priority to address the problems our cities are facing today. Under the smart city program, Ahmedabad has taken up sewage treatment plant projects. New Delhi has taken up sewage treatment plant projects, LED street lights, city surveillance and command center. This is a great start and cities need to speed up implementation to improve or upgrade infrastructure. In a smart city, all citizens need to be connected so that information sharing and dissemination by public agencies is timely and effective. Citizens will play an active role in the working of the city by providing timely and regular feedback to the civic agencies.

India's 100 smart cities should be self-sustaining with renewable energy like solar, wind, etc.; effective water and waste management, efficient transport management, so that environmental pollution is minimized and provides a healthy place for citizens. Performance parameters for every civic agency and real time monitoring will ensure higher accountability and increase speed of governance as well. Technology will play a major role in the working of the city - from monitoring power and water requirement to effective garbage collection, transport and treatment to improved security and surveillance. The smart cities project provides us a great opportunity to retrofit and improve our cities and to ensure new developments are based on actual data. The smart cities project should serve as a benchmark to all cities and villages so that we move towards a data-driven smart nation.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
smart cities infrastructure real estate

Guruprakash Sastry

The author is Regional Manager, Infrastructure, Infosys

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