The Indian Government has announced 100 cities to be developed as smart cities and recently shortlisted 20 cities for financing during 2015-16. Amongst the 20 selected cities, the maximum number of to-be-developed smart cities are in UP (12 cities) and Tamil Nadu (12 cities) followed by Maharashtra (10). These cities have submitted plans to together mobilize Rs. 50,802 crores over the next 5 years and invest these monies for introducing smart interventions.
What is a Smart City
A smart city can be defined as a developed urban area, which has the ability to integrate multiple technological solutions, to manage the city’s assets, which would include local departments, information systems, schools, libraries, transportation systems, hospitals, power plants, law enforcement, and other community services to upgrade quality of life and efficiently manage the environment.
The Mission of a Smart City
A smart city uses information and communication technologies (ICT) to upgrade quality, performance and interactivity of urban services, to bring down costs, better utilize resource consumption and to improve contact between citizens and government. This is best achieved by: studying the community, developing a smart city policy, and engaging the community through fostering e-government initiatives.
The Many Promises of a Smart City
1) Infrastructure Facilities: A maximum travel time of 30 minutes within the city, uncluttered footpaths, dedicated cycle tracks, access to retail markets and primary schools. Recreational areas within close proximity, continuous drinking water supply are some of the other advantages that will mark a smart city.
2) All round Services: Other benefits of a Smart City includes 24 hours electric supply, 100% efficiency in collection of water-related bills, solid waste management system, rain-water harvesting, Wi-Fi connectivity, digitalization, etc
3) Better Lifestyle and a Social Cause: Life for the citizen will improve drastically through preservation and development of open spaces — parks, playgrounds, and recreational spaces-This will reduce heat and maintain ecological balance. The smart cities will also ensure efficient urban mobility and public transport, affordable housing for all (especially for the poor), good governance (especially e-Governance) with active citizen participation, sustainable environment, safety and security of citizens (particularly women, children and the elderly), including health and education.
Some Smart Cities
The World’s leading smart cities are Barcelona, New York, London, Nice and Singapore. Some of the many features that catapulted Barcelona to this ranking were: Clean and Green Environment, Smart Parking, The Bus Transport System, Bicycle Sharing, Pneumatic Waste Management, Smart Lighting, etc.
The Stiff Challenges of a Smart City
To make the Smart City a reality, the challenges are huge and varied. The concepts of retrofitting, redevelopment and Greenfield development, which are the cradle of smart cities, will have to be thoroughly comprehended and implemented to complete perfection. To achieve this, both the States and the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) will need to be active, vigilant and cooperative. It also calls for smart leadership and the ability to act decisively.