Smart Cities Project: Some Lessons for Indian Cities

Smart Cities Project: Some Lessons for Indian Cities

Mahima Nanda, Gurpreet Randhawa
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9199-3.ch006
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The smart cities mission of the Government of India has opened up new pathways for urban redevelopment and transformation. But given the limited resources available with a developing country, a more pragmatic approach would be to first learn from the best international experiences and approaches and then implement those in Indian context. With this view, the chapter examines some of the best practices related with different aspects of a smart city and suggests their relevancy for the development of smart cities in India. The study found that by focusing on the five core areas (i.e., urban mobility and public transport, safety and security of citizens, health and education, water management, and robust IT connectivity and social networking) the concerned authorities in India can successfully achieve their goal of urban redevelopment and transformation with scarce resources. Limitations and scope for future research are discussed in the end.
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As per the Census of 2011, around 31 percent of Indian population resides in urban areas and they contribute 63 percent to India’s GDP. But with increasing urbanization, this number is expected to rise by 2030 with 40 percent people living in urban areas while contributing 75 percent to India’s GDP (Ministry of Urban Development, 2015). This increased influx in the cities certainly requires proper planning of all aspects including development of economic, social, physical and other infrastructure. Well planned cities would not only enhance the quality of life of the residents but would also attract tourists and investments. Thus, by aiming at Smart Cities, the Indian Government has taken a right step for uplifting the face of the country by developing citizen friendly and sustainable cities in India.

A Smart City refers to a city that “uses information and communications technology (ICT) to enhance its livability, workability and sustainability” (Berst et al., 2013, p. 2). In simpler terms, this job consists of three steps: “collecting, communicating and crunching” (Padode et al., 2016, p. 12). The first step involves collecting information through sensors and other devices. In the next step, data is communicated using wireless and wired networks. Last step involves crunching or analysing the collected data in order to understand the current as well as future situation. For this, a new type of intelligent infrastructure is required - “an innovative and open platform based on smart sensor networks that can help forward-looking cities more predictably integrate a complex suite of services cost-effectively, at pace and at scale” (Sensors for Smart Cities, 2015, p. 1).

Ideally, a Smart City aims at developing a comprehensive eco-system which requires development of institutional, physical, social and economic infrastructure (Ministry of Urban Development, 2015). It’s quite a big challenge for cities with limited resources to conceptualize and adopt practices and technologies to have a right-mix of infrastructure which would enable them to transform into a Smart City. As per the United Nations ESCWA Report (2015, p. 29), there are five “High Priority Pillars” of a Smart City development. The report emphasises that if focus is put on these dimensions or pillars, then the transformation planning and strategic development becomes more feasible and successful. Similarly, the Ministry of Urban Development in India has also given ten core infrastructure elements for a Smart City. These elements in alignment with the “High Priority Pillars” are shown in the table 1 below:

Table 1.
High priority pillars and core smart city infrastructure elements for India
S. No.High Priority PillarsCore Infrastructure Elements
1.TransportUrban Mobility and Public Transport
2.Public Safety and SecuritySafety and Security of Citizens
3.Public ServicesHealth and Education, Sanitation, Affordable Housing & Good Governance
4.UtilitiesWater Supply, Electricity Supply & Sustainable Environment
5.Social networkingRobust IT Connectivity and Digitalization

Source: Adapted from United Nations ESCWA (2015) & Ministry of Urban Development (2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Public services: Services like health care, education, sanitation, waste disposal, etc. organized by a government or an official body in order to benefit all the people of society.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT): ICT refers to technologies that capture, transmit and display data and information electronically and includes all devices, applications, and networking elements that allow organizations as well as people to connect in the digital world.

Water Management: Water management includes various activities like proper planning, efficient distribution, and optimal use of water resources so that it can meet current and future needs.

Smart Education: A technology driven learning system that enhances the capability of the educators while enabling the learners to learn more efficiently, effectively, comfortably, and flexibly.

Smart City: An urban area using high-end information and communication technologies to efficiently manage resources leading to enhanced government services and citizen welfare.

Smart Mobility: A technology driven transport system that aims to transport people and goods around the globe further and faster.

Social Networking: Social networking is the use of internet-based platform for the purpose of connecting to people you may or may not know for personal or professional purpose.

Smart Cities Mission: A mission launched by Government of India in 2015 which aims to convert 100 urban areas into Smart cities through extensive renewal and retrofitting programs.

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