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India's Urban Challenges and Smart Cities: An Overview!!!
Dr. Pragya Khanna1/10/2017 11:32:20 PM
Recently it has been quoted that India is all set to become the most-populous country in the world by 2030, making it the home to the largest and the most under-penetrated market for global manufacturers and service providers. Unlike its foregoing generations, this rising population is also shifting to top tier cities of the country giving rise to new megacities estimated to generate 80% of economic growth, with potential to apply modern technologies and infrastructure, promoting better use of scarce resources.
As per estimates, about 25-30 people will migrate every minute to major Indian cities from rural areas in search of better occupations, employment and better standards of living. With this impetus, about 843 million people are expected to live in urban areas by 2050. In order to house this vast urbanization, India needs to find smarter ways to manage complexities, reduce expenses, increase efficiency and improve the quality of life.
With this perspective, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dream "Digital India," has set an ambitious plan to build 100 smart cities across the country. A 'smart city' is an urban region that is highly advanced in terms of overall infrastructure, sustainable real estate, communications and market viability. It is a city where information technology is the principal infrastructure and the basis for providing essential services to residents. There are many technological platforms involved, including but not limited to automated sensor networks and data centres.
Once Mr. Modi in his speech quoted, "Cities in the past were built on riverbanks. They are now built along highways. But in the future, they will be built based on availability of optical fiber networks and next-generation infrastructure."
Technical development at global scale has put more pressure on developing countries to improve their infrastructure and progress in important areas for prosperity.
The standards for being recognised as a smart city must have three of the five infrastructure requirements such as energy management, water management, transport and travel, safety and security and solid waste management. Envisaging the need for quick and rapid urbanisation, the Government has made the vision to build hundred smart cities to make India manufacturing centre for the speedy economic development.
The concept behind developing the smart cities is to create highly advanced urban regions in terms of overall infrastructure, sustainable real estate, communications and market viability. However, in developing smart cities, government players and other parties have to face many challenges. Main requirement for this would be on part of residents, entrepreneurs and visitors who are required to be energetically and enthusiastically involved in energy saving and execution of new technologies and also to make residential, commercial and public spaces sustainable with the help of technology and each project should also be stimulated by an array of drivers like:
1. Constructing or inventing a new economic model (the economic driver)
2. Reducing energy consumption (the eco-sustainability driver)
3. Improving the quality of life in a city environment (the social driver)
Basically in smart cities plan, education, employment and entertainment are considered to be the major factors which generally compel people to move about from rural areas to metropolitan centres.
According news reports, following are key attributes of smart city:
ØAutomatic traffic signal: In case of heavy traffics routes will be automatically diverted.
ØBetter Public transport facility: To decrease raffic on roads, there will be enhancement in existing public transport system.
ØQuick accident relief: In case of accident or problem in vehicle, people will get help in just one call. They can also take help through CCTV too.
ØSmart Traffic system: This system is already implemented in Bangalore city. Taking guidance from London's Smart Traffic System, people will get the information regarding heavy traffic in advance.
ØData Centre: The main characteristic of Smart City projects will be Data Centre. It will have detailed information about the city.
ØFace Identification System to snitch criminals
ØControl Room: There will be an incorporated control room for crime, health, services and traffic for better synchronization to offer quick help to persons.
ØAdequate water supply
ØAssured electricity supply
ØSanitation, including solid waste management
ØAffordable housing, especially for the poor
ØRobust IT connectivity and digitalisation
ØGood governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation
ØSustainable environment
ØSafety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly
ØHealth and education
Consider street lighting, which today accounts for 1.5% of total electricity consumption in India according to McKinsey, a worldwide management consulting firm that conducts qualitative and quantitative analysis in order to evaluate management decisions across the public and private sectors. Cities that use networked motion-detection lights can save 70-80 percent of electricity and costs, according to an independent, global trial of LED technology. Smart street lighting initiatives can also reduce crime in the area by seven percent because of better visibility and more content citizenry, according to Cisco's estimates that is an American multinational technology conglomerate headquartered in San José, California, that develops, manufactures, and sells networking hardware, telecommunications equipment, and other high-technology services and products.
Another example to consider is buildings. Today, buildings in India account for nearly 40% of the total energy consumption, which will reach 50% by 2030. McKinsey estimated in India that 700 million to 900 million square metres of new residential and commercial space would need to be built every year from 2010 to 2020. Just imagine the increase in energy consumption unless buildings outfitted with intelligent sensors and networked management systems collect and analyze energy-use data.
In India alone, traffic congestion costs $10 billion a year in wasted time and fuel. Drivers looking for a parking space cause 30 percent of urban congestion, not to mention pollution. Imagine if Indian cities embedded networked sensors into parking spaces that relay to drivers real-time information about-and directions to-available spots. Think about how we could reduce congestion, pollution, and fuel consumption as well as generate more revenue for cities through dynamic parking fees for peak times. India has also been inviting foreign partnership in developing the smart cities and has signed deals to build eight cities, three with Germany, three with the US, and one each with Spain and Singapore.
India's Smart City plan is part of a larger agenda of creating Industrial Corridors between India's big metropolitan cities in India. These include the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, the Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridor and the Bangalore-Mumbai Economic Corridor. It is hoped that many industrial and commercial centres will be recreated as "Smart Cities" along these corridors. The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), which is spread across six states, seeks to create seven new smart cities as the nodes of the corridor in its first phase. There is tremendous potential in India to build an effective ecosystem to enable our rapidly increasing urban areas to become smart by using digital technology. This in turn will create employment opportunities and contribute to economic growth through innovation. Our cities are fast becoming the defining units of human habitation. How smartly we build, manage and operate our cities will be the single biggest determinant of our people's future. We owe it to our future generations to make our cities smart through the use of technology. Therefore, our cities must embrace technologies that will help local governments and civic bodies secure revenues, explore investment partnerships, make organizational changes that eliminate overlapping roles and manage expenses.
And finally, for me, it is important to remember that a city is created over time. Many layers like historical events, personalities, social movements and geography, among others shape a city and make it liveable. We have to make sure our designs for smart cities have the physical and metaphysical space to allow them to shine and glow with the gleam of time !
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