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Lessons to be learnt to become smarter!

Smart Cities Mission that was formally launched in June 2015 in the country to develop 100 smart cities, has entered a new phase. With the selection of 60 cities under three phases by Government of India, cities need to draw a long term strategy for the implementation of the gargantuan Scheme. It is equally important to have a blueprint of success already applied in other countries/cities.

The treatment of each city under the plan would be different due to the diverse socio-economic and political scenario of each state. To successfully implement the smart urban development and planning in India, successful models from some of the world’s best smart cities can be applied in these cities as per the requirements of the development.

So what can be done? Here are a few suggestions:

Involve communities

People are at the core of the entire delivery system within the Smart Cities Mission. Therefore, it is a must that their voices are heard and incorporated. Geraldton, Australia has developed its own city plan, envisioning the developments till 2029 on the basis of surveys conducted among the communities. The same method can be applied in India to highlight the core issues of urban planning and its various challenges.

Enhance coordination among departments

City of Helsinki, Finland, identified the problem, in the initial stages of becoming smarter. 35 departments overseeing the essential civic services and urban planning were then inter-connected to improve communications and coordination among themselves. This overall changed the scenario and resulted in better administration and cost saving. Based on this model, authorities within our cities should team up with other departments for effective delivery.

Small city development

It is not necessary to develop the entire city in the first go. Small portions of developments can also become the blueprint of success. For example, Songdo in South Korea, built on 1500 acres of reclaimed land is being developed as a smart city in collaboration with Singapore.

Adopt technology and data

Glassglow is a glaring example of how technology can change city planning and its services. The city now provides its citizens a host of services through applications on mobile devices. These include maps for pedestrian walkways, tourist getaways, city weather, data on health records, figures on footfalls, commercial developments and real time traffic data to reduce bottlenecks on the streets to name a few. Effective real time data helps in addressing the problems and challenges of smart urban planning.

Currently a number of data from government sources is lying untapped. For example, Census Data, Data on services provided by various Ministries, City Development plans and various data relating to land and their usage lying unused under various department can be looked at in totality to create some benchmark of development.

Climate control and disaster management

Rio Olympics are currently ongoing. But no one would notice that the city has undergone a complete transformation and has developed a control command centre to tackle with sudden landslides, floods and other natural disaster ensuring better safety of citizens during public events. The control command centre can perform real time weather analysis, map energies of buildings and monitor water usage as a single function. This command centre can focus on disaster management within hours in case of any emergency.

The above suggestions if implemented, has the potential to launch a robust segment wise services based delivery system in the country.


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