India is surely investing in a smart future. Globally, there are just 26 smart cities and the Indian Government is now aiming to add almost four times this number in its mammoth ‘Smart Cities’ mission to transform cities.
The 20 cities that have been earmarked for smart city development in the first phase will be naturally upgraded to a higher level through introduction of advanced technologies and innovative services along with other developments that are required to meet the demands of each city, thus these cities will get a makeover according to global standards.
The Minister of Urban Development, M. Venkaiah Naidu, after pronouncing the winners of the Smart City Challenge had stated that 20 urban areas of the country will be reinvented into future smart cities. Next year, another batch will be picked through competition on the criteria that those cities are functioning well and have the zeal to carry forward the smart development initiative of the government. The aim is also to help in making the cities flourish and increase their economic muscle.
Some of the cities aimed for development along smart lines are thus areas which are already equipped with the basic amenities. To the question: do these areas need big promotion vis-à-vis areas which are already languishing behind? The answer, I believe, is that the government wants to be on the same path as global nations. And the objective is to bring some of the cities at par with global smart cities.
Elaborating on this, Anuj Puri, Chairman & Country Head, JLL India, says, “The transformation from a ‘normal’ city to a ‘smart city’ is more evolution than revolution. A smart city is different than normal cities in terms of liveability, workability and sustainability. The information and communications technology (ICT) component used in infrastructure will do most of the heavy-lifting work such as improving infrastructure, environment and governance through data-driven systems.”
Approach for smart city development
The can and do approach or performance indicator was a major factor in the selection of cities. The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) hence, scored well for successfully retrofitting Connaught Place, however, the timeline factor is one aspect which it needs to sincerely work upon. The NDMC will get Rs 500 crore from the Centre which will be disbursed in instalments.
The vision of the NDMC Chairman, Naresh Kumar, is to make efficient use of scarce resources like water and energy, which is badly needed in Delhi, and to bring smart mobility and smart governance.
Some smart features that will make the city stand apart are 3D digital mapping, waste-to-energy plants, solar city project and intelligent urban mobility among others.
Under Area Based Development, which is divided into three aspects, Retrofitting, Redevelopment and Green Field Development, NDMC proposes to further improve CP and its surrounding region. It also will undertake redevelopment of Gole Market.
Under Pan-NDMC programme, it will introduce smart features and citizen-friendly services. The Delhi citizens can look forward to Wi-Fi access points, interactive education in NDMC schools, hi-tech hospitals, modernised toilets, automated parking, etc.
As under the jurisdiction of NDMC lie bungalows of top ministers, politicians and bureaucrats, the NDMC’s proposal to reinvent the capital city is by developing e-surveillance, air-quality sensors and noise-pollution sensors, smart bus-stops, and app-integrated cycle tracks, etc.
The NDMC has set aside a financial outlay of Rs 1,897 crore to develop the smart city scheme. It proposes to generate around 50% of the funds through private sector participation.
Smart city will facilitate growth of a multiple sectors
The cities chosen for smart city development promise a high economic and industrial growth potential and creating housing schemes for the urban middle class would greatly boost the real estate sector.
Redevelopment of cities will entail huge requirement of infrastructure growth. This would in turn mean that thousands of acres of land would be converted to industrial and IT parks, commercial office spaces, retail and entertainment zones, and above all, housing schemes creating ample opportunities of investment for the infrastructure and real estate development sector.
“With all this action happening for the developers, there is also an immense opportunity for Architectural Visualisation industry that would be instrumental from the planning phase itself through state-of-the-art 3D visualisations and interactive scale models,” says Rashmi Kohli, Director, Sparrow Interactive Pvt. Ltd.
The role of private sector will come to play at large for providing expertise in technical aspects and skilled manpower. Apart from infrastructure and real estate, employment generation is another key benefit of smart cities.
Above all, these smart cities will bring in massive investments. The potential investments will help India maintain its stand among global nations.
Reducing burden on metropolitan cities
With smart cities being modelled to provide a glorified urban experience, the charm and drive to move to urban cities for work and good living will be diminished. To reduce the burden on metropolitan cities, this is a brilliant initiative.
It is estimated that by 2030, around 600 million people will migrate to India’s urban landscape and smart cities would be the only solution to ease the chaos. Further, going the smart way will mean clean environment and good living standards that can translate to better health and productivity.
The government realises that equal participation of the agencies, industry bodies and citizens is essential for the success of a programme. Hence, it involved the citizens in the process of the smart city challenge competition by asking them to participate by envisaging how their smart city should be.
Who would not like to live smart?
Smart city will essentially provide an environment and opportunity to people as they are the economic drivers of a city. It will sort out citizen’s lives as our everyday living challenges would be adequately taken care of through use of technology, good provision of transportation and accommodation.
Smart cities will also enable people to become more productive collectively, as life will be hassle-free and thereby, fuelling growth of the city, people and resources. Living smart will accentuate their wellness factor, make them free from diseases caused from pollution, and generate a feeling of happiness.
The initiative is also important from the view point of climate change and fast depleting natural resources. However, the success of smart cities will depend on those who are manning the programme. The cities’ municipal agencies will have to rise to the occasion to be at their effective best and collaborate for effective implementation adhering to timelines.