- Published: 19 July 2022
The idea of 'smart city' aims to use digital innovation to improve the lives of citizens and make urban living sustainable by excelling in governance, economy, transport, environment, resources, and people's services, such as healthcare, education, housing, and living. Smart cities actually stand for a concept of an 'ecosystem' where every sub-system is linked to each other to make the complete package an attractive summation.
Smart cities introduce a variety of new services that impact urban policy-making and planning as they co-exist with urban facilities. And there are various ways that the smart city framework can help city planners meet the above-mentioned standards and contribute to urban life. Out of 100 cities, seven have taken a lead with most projects completed. The mission period will end in June 2023. Bhopal has completed approximately 92% of projects, Surat 82.44%, Udaipur 78%, Bhubaneswar 76%, and Indore, Varanasi & Ahmedabad 70%.
Recently, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) organized a series of events and conferences to explore ideas, innovations and partnerships towards the future trajectory of smart urban development in India. The conference focused on five sub-themes namely reimagining public spaces, digital governance, climate-smart cities, innovation and smart finance and the conference will advertise the learnings from smart cities to other cities and towns in India.
UN & Smart City: What They Idealize?
The United for Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC) has developed a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) for smart sustainable cities. They have specified to set goals, collect data and measure progress in five major areas i.e. use of ICTs, physical infrastructure, social inclusion and equity of access to services, quality of life, and environmental sustainability. These will lead to many new ways of conceptualizing a smart city.
The categorization of smart cities published by The Centre of Regional Science at the Vienna University of Technology talks about six matrices: Smart economy, smart mobility, smart environment, smart people, smart (human) living, and smart governance. Now, India must see how these matrices can be achieved -- if at all -- in the Indian context which is so much more diversified.
Do We Really Need Smart Cities?
Today, with urbanization becoming a non-ending phenomenon, 54% of the world's population lives in cities, a proportion that's expected to reach into 66% by 2050 which means because of overall population growth, urbanization will add another 2.5 billion people to cities over the next three decades. Environmental, social, and economic sustainability are a must to keep pace with this rapid expansion taxing our cities' resources.
Can Smart Cities Be Tenable and Trusted?
In digital cities, connected cameras, brainy road systems, and public safety monitoring systems can provide an added layer of protection and emergency support to aid citizens when needed. But what about protecting smart cities themselves from susceptibilities? How can we defend against hacking, cyber-attacks, and data theft, banking fraud, online fraud etc.? In cities where multiple participants share information, how do we protect them logically & ethically? And how do we know the data they report is true and accurate? The answers lie in physical data vaults, strong authentication and ID management solutions. Smart cities can only work if we can trust them.
Problems of Smart Cities May Ascend
"Smart cities make urbanization more inclusive, bringing together formal and informal sectors, connecting urban cores with peripheries, delivering services for the rich and the poor alike, and integrating the migrants and the poor into the city. Promoting smart cities is about rethinking cities as inclusive, integrated, and livable," the World Bank has said.
Though there could be heaps of advantages of setting up of smart cities like improved infrastructure, attractive job opportunities, and better communication and connectivity, we cannot disagree on the multifarious disadvantages or hindrances like excessive network trust, lack of privacy and social control, hasty rural migration & growth of slums, destruction of biodiversity & ecosystem in an intense form.
Therefore, it is required to make smart cities sustainable in all forms because a smart sustainable city can create an innovative city that uses ICTs and other means to improve quality of life, efficiency of urban operation and services, and competitiveness, while ensuring that it meets the needs of present and future generations with respect to economic, social, political, environmental as well as cultural aspects.
But, the main challenges in making it sustainable will be controlling and reducing the CO2 footprint which could be the main driver behind the development of smart and sustainable cities, and smart grids. Smart water management has to be the periodic themes of smart cities. Also, there will be the need of effective integration of physical, digital (ICT) and human systems in the erected environment to bring a sustainable, thriving and inclusive future for its city's citizens.
Unfortunately, recent trends show abysmal sloppiness towards both sound reasoning as well as principled approach to making public policy processes workable and thereby furthering people's freedom and choice. In India, the urban ecosystems for policy-making are still not intermingled enough to make the public policy work for the betterment of city residents. It is still a very standoffish dream for the city dwellers to move safely and make life easy to live and work.
When in dismay, people blame the authorities at all levels for not having an intermixed city governance ecosystem with an interface between people and policymakers. On the other hand, the authorities blame the people for not upholding the right behavior as dutiful citizens. I think that debates will go on, but city planners must look at it.
It is also true that there is a huge incongruity between the scale of aspirations of people in general and youth in particular and the infrastructure quality of the cities in the country. Apart from education, the emergence of new technology has pushed the aspirations of people for seeking better, safe and livable environment in cities which are still lacking purely on account of the absence of systemic blending.
A new feather has been added to the initiatives of smart cities after seven years of the launch of the Smart City Mission. In an actual functional democracy at the grassroots level, what has been brought out now as part of the decision making process to improve city governance, should have been taken up at the beginning before the launch of the mission.
Though, as part of the smart cities initiatives guidelines, the Union Ministry of Urban Development had notified in September 2016 to create a City-Level Advisory Forum (CLAF) comprising all major stakeholders including elected representatives of that city, local youth, technical experts, associations of taxpayers, residents' welfare, trade and commerce associations, etc. However, this forum was not functional exponentially until recently.
For years, city residents have been demanding a cleaner environment with high quality of hygiene and sanitation maintenance. They also demand and voted for leaders thinking they would bring better water drainage, solid waste and sewage management systems to avoid the spread of diseases, water logging during the rainy seasons specially, say for example in the drainage systems of Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, etc.
Even the most underpinning urban ecosystems challenges are on the road with the cold war between public transportation and private vehicles. Weighty traffic at all intersections of the cities, road conjunctions without proper pavements, sidewalks, demarcation of streets for a walk, bicycles, two-wheelers, four-wheelers and heavy vehicles, road accidents with huge fatal cases exponentially increasing year after year and it is never ending phenomenon in India.
Way Forward to Become a City Really 'Smart' & 'Sustainable'
Secure wireless connectivity and IoT (Internet of Things) technology are altering traditional elements of city life like streetlights into next-generation intelligent lighting platforms with prolonged competences. The scope includes integrating solar power and connecting to a 'cloud-based central control system' that connects to other ecosystem assets. In addition to people, dwellings, commerce, and traditional urban infrastructure, there are four essential elements necessary for flourishing cities as smart & sustainable i.e. pervasive wireless connectivity, open data, security you can trust in and flexible monetization schemes for all city dwellers. Also core security objectives need to be lined up and work in an integrative manner by the all ecosystem partners such as governments, enterprises, software providers, device manufacturers, energy providers, network service providers and the city dwellers. These core objectives are availability of reliable data access, integrity of reliable and accurate data and measurements, confidentiality of sensitive information and accountability of user's actions.
In contrast, more experienced smart cities manage their smart city programs through internal cross functional "Transformation" or "Innovation" organizations. Many of its projects neglect ecosystem framework. Therefore, broader ecosystem framework has to be built in order to create a sustainable and scalable smart city. Should not allow any new smart city projects that are against the ecosystem framework and also evaluate and analyze the existing city projects unceasingly. There must be prioritization and development of competencies across the various ecosystem layers like value layer, innovative layer, governance, management and operations layer, information and data layer, connectivity, accessibility and security layer, technology infrastructure layer & many more. A sustainable smart city with environmental, social and economic & cultural dimensions in a holistic manner need to be set up which actually augment innovative socio-technical, socio-economic and socio-cultural aspects of growth and need to integrate latest technology with governance to improve the quality of life and reduce the environmental impact of urbanism. In order for smart cities to achieve these attainable goals, equitable, participatory, sustainable, inclusive & holistic urban development policies & planning must be developed.
Finally, don't you think if government stretch attention on 'Smart Village' providing good amounts of modern facilities & resources, most of the above problems of cities will disappear and it will be easy to make cities smart & sustainable. You can think of it.
Autor(en)/Author(s): Sanjoy Roy
Quelle/Source: msn, 19.07.2022