Smart City in India’s Perspective

In recent period, there is a buzz around smart city projects in India as cities are considered the growth engines of a country. Such smart city projects not only contribute towards employment generation, but also it drives economic growth and enhances the attitude towards improvement process of quality of life of people by enabling local area development harnessing technology leading to smart outcomes. The conceptualization of Smart city varies from country to country and even from city to city in a particular country itself, but what remains constant is the science of managing various infrastructures and services of a smart city in a seamless and effective manner.

As per the Smart cities program of Government of India (GOI), the total number of 100 Smart Cities have been distributed among the States and UTs on the basis of an equitable criteria. The formula gives equal weightage (50:50) to urban population of the State/UT and the number of statutory towns in the State/UT. Based on this formula, each State/UT will, therefore, have a certain number of potential Smart Cities, with each State/ UT having at least one. GOI has allocated Rs 72961 crores for two central schemes – AMRUT and Smart Cities. The general budget 2016-17 has earmarked an amount of Rs 3,205 cr for the development of 100 smart cities across the country by 2020, while nearly Rs 4,091 crore for AMRUT. The first list of 20 smart cities (selected based on Government specified criteria) have already been announced with Bhubaneswar leading the list.

Various infrastructural project elements of a typical smart city project could be as follows.

 City Governance: Where interface between citizens and city administration be minimized and response time from city administration will be prompt and smart.
 Energy : It will ensure smart power grid, metering and payment with integration of renewable energy sources (both domestic and commercial).
 Water : Where the smart metering, leakage detection, payment, minimization of spillage and quality monitoring will be the key.
 Infrastructure
 Public Safety and security : The measures to identify the possible sources of disturbance proactively with the help of technology need to be taken and the miscreants should be aware of consequences (as prompt and smart actions) of the unsocial activities. Although this requires a bigger national level reforms in terms of Police reforms, judicial reforms and political reforms.
 Education : The best institute/school at primary/secondary/college/university level should be awarded based on transparent evaluation criteria and create a healthy competitive environment .
 Health Care : Here both preventive and curative healthcare systems to be promoted.
 Green buildings : The city administration will promote construction of Green Buildings through various programs.
 Transportation : All possible type of sustainable transportation systems like integrated ticketing system for Metro Rail, public buses and Auto and encourage E-rickshaws be used last minute connectivity transport system.
 Citizen services: Where the citizens can avail smart services from city administration at an enhanced cost and in case of poor service the concerned official will be accountable in a transparent manner.
 Cleanliness : The monitoring action on littering needs to be prompt and effective.
 Waste management: Smart waste management system for liquid and solid wastes need to be introduced.
 Economic system : The support system in terms of human resources (maids, drivers) from villages around the city need to be well integrated.
 Public Utilities : The public utilities like water, drainage, power, gas, sewerage need to be managed smartly like having smart power grid, smart drainage/sewage system, smart piped gas distribution system in terms of monitoring quality, flow, leakage and online payment systems.
 Sustainability : The balance between concrete structures and greenery, water bodies need to be established and promoted at all levels (Private and public places)

There would be a diverse group of stakeholders involved in each of the above areas, speaking different languages and using different performance parameters and different plans. It is going to be a huge challenge to bring a coordinated approach in integrating them. It would not only be the right choice of projects involved in making the city smart, but at the same time the users of the facilities need to be made smart. A structured and disciplined approach to project governance can help the cause along with capacity building in the art of governing projects. Madhya Pradesh Govt. has already taken a very proactive step to inculcate the knowledge of Project management amongst its employees across all departments.

Let us review with certain example situations (with regard to smart solutions) from developed countries like Singapore with regard to various Infrastructural project elements. Although standard of living in India is still not at par with developed countries, but India is trying to march towards the same. Hence, the example situations are presented in order to know the ulterior objectives of projects like smart city project in India and the processes behind it.

Public Safety and security

Public safety and security is the most important criteria for a city to be smart and attractive to the citizens and outsiders. This involves effective enforcement of laws and swift action by security forces and get the justice delivered in time bound manner. Singapore is considered the safest country in the world , where ladies can freely walk alone on the road at mid night. How is it possible? Some may say ,it is the size of the city country, but it is something beyond it. The city is viewed through CCTV cameras, with minimum policing on the road, but reaction time from police is minimum in case of untoward incident. And, citizens are aware of the consequence of the arrest of the miscreant, which is firm, effective and time-bound. Here, not only application of technology, but effective use of the technology with effective (in terms of accountability and professionalism) administrative back-up from top to bottom are the keys to achieving such success. Such mindset starts nucleating in a country like India (starting with ,if not, Smart city project) with the effective implementation of best Project Management Practices in Smart City Project.

Waste management

The most advanced cities in the world are known for effective implementation of waste management programme. For example, in Singapore the company like “Veolia”, “Sembawang” manage the complete cycle of solid waste management . They collect solid wastes from each waste containers (for bio-degradable, non-bio-degradable) placed before each household , housing complex, shopping malls, public establishments everyday in the morning and then treat it at their plant and generate power and gas.

Many of above action points can be acted upon simultaneously with strong support from all stakeholders such as state government, central government, local administration and City’s Residents Welfare Associations and effective use of Project management framework in smart city project execution and day-to-day smart city governance.

Once these cities become smart, there would be a continuous inflow of people to these cities in search of livelihood. However, the urban – rural balance needs to be maintained. Ideally, along with developing smart cities, GOI has thought of making rural India smarter by having smart villages. Like in many parts of Europe in countryside, where one has access to all the city amenities yet it retains its countryside flavor. Smart India dream needs to be realized on the twin concepts of smart cities and smart villages. Smart cities and villages need to be populated by informed people, connected to the world and each other by technology of the information age.

In a bid to transform rural areas to economically, socially and physically sustainable spaces, the Government of India has already announced the Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM) to set up 300 rural clusters across the country by 2019-20.

As stated by Government of India, the mission aims at development of rural growth clusters which have latent potential for growth, in all states and UTs, which would trigger overall development in the region. These clusters would be developed by provisioning of economic activities, developing skills and local entrepreneurship, and providing infrastructure amenities… (it) will thus develop a cluster of smart villages.

For a country like India, where more than 70% people is still dependent on agriculture, and people are migrating from villages to cities, it is important to consider smart villages as growth engines (for sustainable growth) as well in consonance with the development of smart cities.

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