by Akhilesh K Prasad
The government of India launched its Smart Cities Mission (SCM) in June 2015 amidst much fanfare. The objective of the project was to promote sustainable and inclusive cities that provide core infrastructure, give a decent quality of life to its citizens, and a clean and sustainable environment with the application of ‘Smart Solutions’ for convenience. Thus the thrust is on making the country digitally empowered by improving infrastructure for the delivery of services online.
Digitization goes beyond simple automation and modernization. It refers to the development, operation and maintenance of background technological environment including the infrastructure within government organizations.
With the adoption of smart technologies, Smart Cities are said to be the digital frontier of the country. Enlisted hereinafter are the building blocks Smart Cities:
- IT enabled solutions: The use of technology helps in the delivery of urban services. It makes the service delivery system transparent, efficient and available 24×7. Urban local bodies are adopting such technologies for smart education, healthcare, parking, buildings, etc.
- Smart Mobility: An efficient transport system is the backbone of a city, both in terms of economy and sustainability. The use of technology to manage traffic and transportation facilitates a reduction in congestion.
- Smart Power: Reliable power quality and climate protection are the gists of smart energy. Smart cities are analysing existing networks and planning for modernization of distribution infrastructure. Several cities are also installing a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system for monitoring real-time power flow.
- Smart Buildings: Considering that citizens spend 90% of their time inside buildings such as homes, offices, railway and bus terminals, shopping malls etc, it is pertinent that technology is used to make such structures safer and more convenient.
- Smart Lighting: The use of technology for the development of a smart lighting system will facilitate the safety of citizens, use of utilities, and transportation etc thus resulting in a well-integrated city. On the other hand, Smart Lighting will also ensure optimum usage of energy in the reduction in costs.
- Smart Water and Waste Management: IT solutions are being used by a growing number of Urban Local Bodies (ULB’s) for such purposes. The solutions include advanced flow and pressure management systems, smart bins and tracking systems for more efficient management of water and waste.
- Smart Networks: An integration of Wi-Fi solutions, data centres, control platforms and cloud technologies have made smart devices an effective communication tool. Data exchange and interconnectivity along with communication is the pillar of a smart city.
The integration of the aforesaid technologies with the up gradation of physical infrastructure epitomises the vision of Smart Cities in India. While 100 cities have been chosen to be developed under the SCM so far, other cities are likely to adopt the same ideas for better management as and when they have the funding.