What are Smart Cities ?

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Smart cities

Smart Cities are one of the most exciting prospects for a wide share of countries around the world. By definition, a smart city is ‘an urban area that uses various electronic data collection sensors to supply information which can be used to manage assets and resources effectively and efficiently’. This article mainly entails about smart cities and how India is progressing towards their development.

 

Let’s try to understand this in simple layman terms. A smart city is an urban region with all modern and technologically advanced infrastructure, access to smart energy, smart Mobility, and ultra-fast communication network. Data is collected from citizens, devices, and assets that are monitored and analyzed to make life easier and to manage the city in an organized fashion. Needless to say that a smart city is better than a regular or a non-smart city in a number of ways, some of which are the convenience, quality lifestyle, city performance, inter-connectivity of urban services, low costs and resource consumption along with the better connection between citizens and the government. A smart city is, therefore, more prepared to respond to challenges than one with a simple transactional relationship with its citizens. Yet, the term itself remains unclear in its specifics and therefore, open to many interpretations.

A smart city is a universal concept and it’s interesting to explore some of the best ideas that are not just very well thought of but also dexterously applied which has given these cities an edge and made managing daily activities easier for both the citizens and the government. All of this has been possible through smart technology.

 

1) In Singapore, the government can track and tell when people are smoking in a ‘non-smoking area’ or littering from high rise housing. Such data is monitored regularly and would be very crucial in emergencies.

2) In Dubai, Cameras spot your car if it is speeding and a ticket for speeding is sent to your registered email ID, the payment for which can be made through an application online. The same App can also be used for paying your electricity bill, renew vehicle registration, find an ATM, report a violation, track visa status, track package, taxi, electricity bill.

3) In Barcelona, the government found out that it could save millions of dollars by using smart street lights which detects motion and helps save a lot on the electricity bills. Smart parking sensors are also used which helps find a nearby parking spot, hence saving time and traffic jams as well.

There will be a huge investment for the same but overall the cost will reach its breakeven point in no time in the long run and that is the reason why most of the cities around the world are trying their best to transform their city into a Smart city.

In India, the steps towards building Smart cities were launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June 2015. It was called “Smart cities Mission” the aim of which is to develop 100 cities all over the country making them citizen friendly and sustainable. It is a 5-year program in which all of the states and Union territories are performing (except West Bengal) by nominating at least one city for the Smart city mission.

As per earlier sources, Financial aid will be given by the central and state government between 2017-2022 to the cities and the mission will start showing results from 2022 onwards.

The smart city mission in India has harnessed some of the most promising cities in the world as well, some of them being Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Visakhapatnam, Chennai, and Bengaluru.

So, why does India ‘need’ smart cities?

According to demographers, India will become the most populous country in the world by 2030. There is also a very fast shift towards urban areas. As per government estimates, every minute 25-30 people are migrating to cities from rural areas in search for better livelihood and better lifestyle. As cities are generally considered the engines of economic growth, such huge population may be a source 80% economic growth of the country. But such a huge population would require jobs, civic amenities, accommodations, efficient governance, faster communication means, speedy and hassle-free transport system, uninterrupted and clean power, water supply and good quality of life.

 

To develop such 100 smart cities for the future, the smart cities mission requires an investment of about USD 1.2 trillion in the next 20 years. The smart cities mission is also being worked in close coordination with ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’. The government has also Invited Foreign partnership: Japan has also agreed to invest USD 4 Billion for the smart cities mission.

 

The future looks bright for India and the world. A structured coordination between the center and the state is paramount to ensure a sustainable and smart future for our cities. Smart cities are a thing for the future and it is Imperative for the authorities responsible to be thorough and sincere with their task for the 5-year mission which will reap its benefits to the citizens for a long time to come!