Monday, 7 September 2015

Understanding the idea and benefits of a Smart City

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, which was launched in 2005, had almost 40% of

its work incomplete at the time of its closure on March 31 this year. With increasing urbanization and

the load on rural land, the government has now realized the need for cities that can cope with the

challenges of urban living and also be magnets for investment. The announcement of ‘100 smart cities’

falls in line with this vision, a vision that was formulated in the manifesto of BJP leading up to the 2014

general elections. Then concept of a smart city is pretty easy to understand on a few lines.

Cities are growing faster than the world population. It is increasingly challenging for large and fast

growing cities to manage their operations. The latest technology is enabling greater things in our lives to

exchange data in a common network. The government policies will play a major role in developing smart

cities that help planners truly understand our everyday tasks. But how can smart cities improve our

lives? Innovations in technology are helping private and public organizations gain insight into the needs

of their communities. Cities will become smart by:

 Developing strategies to plan for long-term growth

 Creating more energy-efficient environments

 Improving their infrastructure

 Keeping citizens safe

Asset tracking will streamline operations and achieve operational efficiency like never before. Cities will

be able to track the location of city assets such as utility vehicles, containers or buses and raise alerts

when unexpected events occur. Let’s say a driver comes to an unexpected long stop.  An alert will be

immediately raised and if an event occurs, the city can find the closest suitable vehicle to take its place.

It is a Public private partnership project where large part of the investment will come from private

sector and the state and central government will supplement this effort. Central government and the

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had promised allocation of a sum of Rs.7,060 crore for the development of

the smart cities.

The project’s aim is “housing for all,” and that is possible only through affordable housing. 50% of India's

population would be living in cities by 2050. It is for this rising class that the need for better living

standards arises. To accommodate this growing and increasingly mobile populace, it is imperative that a

sustainable model of housing be developed.

Most Indian cities haven’t had the structural changes to accommodate such a large influx in decades,

giving rise to conflicts and strife. How will they handle this additional pressure? Or will most of India’s

urban space simply turn into slums? The civic facilities have crumbled; power cuts, water shortages,

flooding, traffic congestion etc. have become regular features of these cities. The speed of urbanization

poses an unprecedented managerial and policy challenge – smart cities are an answer to handling the

seismic shift in the makeup of the nation.

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