ICT emerges as the key factor for transforming cities into smart cities: Paul Coates
Paul Coates, Vice President, Channels, Asia Pacific and Japan, Riverbed Technology
What will it take to convert the 100 Smart Cities project into a reality?In its effort to transform the country’s urban landscape, one of the most promising projects by the Indian government is the 100 smart cities project. Information and communications technology solutions have inevitably emerged as key tools required for the transformation. The use of integrated technology platforms that are easily accessible across various devices is certainly crucial to provide access, transparency, speed and participation in public services.
As technocrats plan new information highways for citizens across the country to access government data and their records, this optimism is tinged with questions about the scale and complexity of these projects. Performance is a key consideration. Not just of the networks but of the applications themselves. Millions of devices are expected to access government networks within a few years, and applications will need to perform exponentially more efficiently for these services to deliver on their promise. Superior application performance will play a pivotal role, as government departments will rely on applications such as email, financial tools, ERP systems and collaboration platforms to deliver critical citizen services.
As the Government moves its services to the cloud and consolidates IT resources, what do you think their move should be?With the government going digital, data will be traveling farther distances across networks to reach those who rely on those applications and information to do their jobs. In this way, having the tools that provide end-to-end visibility across applications and networks will become even more critical, as it is the only way to quickly detect and fix application performance issues. Therefore, the Government should consider sound investments in the human and technological resources to manage networks and applications to drive a seamless end-user experience.
How can we improve various sectors like education and healthcare by transforming a normal city into a Smart City? Education and Healthcare-focused initiatives under Digital India like Digital Locker, E-education, E-health and National Scholarship Portal will play a particularly significant role in helping to transform the country into a digitally empowered knowledge economy. If executed effectively, citizens in even the most rural communities in India could receive access to medication at their doorstep. Medical histories could be tracked, recorded and shared with a qualified specialist at a medical facility hundreds of miles away for diagnosis. Students would have access to virtual learning opportunities and the most up-to-date training courses – whether they live in Tier 3 city or a Tier 1.
What are the success factors on which the initiative depends?The success of an initiatives depends largely on three factors: 1) The creation and maintenance of effective digital services 2) The ability to deliver those services to the masses via internet connectivity, and 3) The ability to ensure that those services – or applications – perform as expected, data is always available when needed, and performance issues are detected and fixed before end users even notice.
What according to you the Government should do to woo investors to the proposed Smart Cities project?The primary drivers of investing in smart cities globally have been to increase innovation, foster economic growth, gain access to new markets and exchange new knowledge and skills. The investment trend has been with an eye on rapidly urbanizing cities, like Singapore and Songdo City, Korea – a challenge also faced in Indian metro cities.
Making policies transparent and predictable, making procedures clearly defined and smooth, and fostering increased market access and partnerships are key factors in attracting investments to projects like this.
Dipak Dash explains what these smart cities are and how they will work.
What is a 'smart city'?
A city equipped with basic infrastructure to give a decent quality of life, a clean and sustainable environment through application of some smart solutions.
Assured water and electricity supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, robust IT connectivity, e-governance and citizen participation, safety and security of citizens.
Public information, grievance redressal, electronic service delivery, citizens’ engagement, waste to energy & fuel, waste to compost, 100% treatment of waste water, smart meters & management, monitoring water quality, renewable source of energy, efficient energy and green building, smart parking, intelligent traffic management system.
What's the next step?
The next step is identification of the 100 cities and for this a city challenge competition to be conducted by Bloomberg Philanthropies is envisaged. The current plan looks to select 20 cities this year followed by 40 each in the next two years.
Smart Cities Council India has been formed
It is part of the US-based Smart Cities Council, which is a consortium of smart city practitioners and experts, with a 100-plus member and advisor organizations operating in over 140 countries.
All states will get at least one smart city
A Special Purpose Vehicle will be created for each city to implement Smart City action plan. The SPV will be signed with the urban local body, state government and the Centre for implementation of the project.
How it will work
After government announces the guidelines, states will be asked to nominate names of cities for a ‘City Challenge Competition’ and the chosen ones will get Central fund of Rs 100 crore each year for 5 years.
The basic criteria for selection of a city/municipal area
1. Retrofitting 500 acres: Planning in an existing built-up area in a municipal ward, preparing plan with citizen participation (example: Connaught Place in Delhi, Bhendi Bazar in Mumbai).
2. Greenfield 250 acres: Introduce smart solutions in a vacant area using innovative planning (example: land pooling/land reconstitution in Outer Delhi, GIFT city in Gujarat).
3. Redevelopement 50 acres: Replacement of existing built-up area and preparing a new layout plan with enhanced infrastructure by way of mixed land use (example: Kidwai Nagar in Delhi).