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Global Dynamics: The Buzzword Will Be ‘Smart’

Cities will perforce have to be smart if they have to shoulder such population intensities. India’s smart city focus has to be target-based

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Cisco estimates the market for smart city products and services to be $2.57 trillion by 2025 at a CAGR of  less than 18 per cent. You have to delve into figures to realise how fast our environment is growing today. Cities accounted for 29 per cent of the world’s population in 1950 and 50 per cent of it in 2008. In just another 21 years by the year 2040, the cities are projected to hold 65 per cent of the world’s population.

Cities will perforce have to be smart if  they have to shoulder such population intensities. India’s smart city focus has to become even more target-based and time-bound, particularly because we threaten to be the most populous country in the world in less than two decades. Statistics show that world over 1.3 million people shift to cities every week. The trend has consequences for rural life and portends to be a huge strain on city life.

City planners need to see the writing on the wall. Housing, water, power, transport, sanitation and parking, are all coming under duress. Municipalities worldwide, have huge weekly challenges to confront to accommodate the large ingress. The Ministry of Urban Development needs to open a dialogue with all the 500 plus municipalities in India to ensure that they measure up to this task.
Today the globe has 21 mega cities with a population exceeding 10 million. Tokyo leads with a population of 36 million. Eight other cities are inching towards the 10 million mark, of which three are in China namely, Shenzhen, Chongqiny and Guangzhou and two others  Jakarta and Lahore   are in the rest of Asia. These cities pose a serious challenge to their administrators. Bogota and Lima in Latin America and Kinhasa in Africa are also among cities that have populations approaching the 10 million mark. The UNEP needs to first look at these eight cities in terms of the impact their burgeoning growth have on the environment. Livability will pose serious law and order issues in some of  these ghettos.

There were 500 cities globally with a population of a million plus in 2011. Of these, 221 are estimated to be in China alone by 2025. How do you cope with food, clothing, shelter, pollution, transport, power and water challenges? The top 600 cities in the world also account for 60 per cent of the world’s GDP. City planning then, is a must for sustained growth. In these 600 populous cities, of which 100 will be in India, IT infrastructure will pose a huge challenge. Holistic planning and time-bound execution is the only recipe for success.

Visual Capitalist estimates that a billion people live in slums today. This figure will double by 2030. How do you handle the sanitation, transport and law and order challenges they face? Slum administrators need to be sensitive about what works and what does not, as each slum is a veritable time bomb waiting to explode. Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and Bengaluru have huge issues to tackle.

Worldwide five billion mobile connections existed in 2011 and Cisco values opportunities in IT at $34 billion. Smart city solutions will be required in plenty for smart lighting, smart buildings,  smart utilities and smart transport.  Smart Administration will determine how smartly we live on mother earth in the next few decades. The next buzzword in the world then, is SMART.

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.

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smart cities

J.K. Dadoo

The author is a retired IAS officer

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