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Smart cities, a smart way of living

Aparna Dutt Sharma, Chief Executive Officer, IBEF

Feb 02, 2015 14:18

Rising urbanisation is one of the critical challenges most economies across the world are facing today. In this context, development of 100 smart cities in India is amongst the most prominent initiatives taken by the Government of India. A smart city uses technology to run itself and manage resources efficiently. Be it governance, public transport network, water distribution or waste-management systems, all the support pillars are expected to use technology to provide better services to residents and make efficient use of resources.

The project is not only integral to improving the physical, social, institutional and economic infrastructure across the country but is also expected to provide the right quality of life, employment and investment opportunities beyond metropolitan cities. The urban population is currently 31 per cent of the total population in India contributing over 60 per cent of the nation's GDP. The contribution is expected to go up to 75 per cent of the national GDP over the next 15 years. Considering the relevance of these engines of economic growth, the government plans to develop satellite towns of larger cities and modernise the existing mid-sized cities. "…India is at a point of transition where the pace of urbanization will speed up. It is for this reason that we need to plan our urban areas well and cannot wait any longer to do so," according to the draft concept note from the Ministry of Urban Development.

Over 10 countries, including US, Japan, Sweden, Singapore, Australia and Germany have already shown interest in building smart cities in India. For instance, Japan has pledged to help turn Varanasi into a smart city whilst US companies are expected to help improve facilities in Aurangabad, Ajmer and Visakhapatnam. In fact, work on 20-30 cities is expected to begin in the next financial year following one of the three approaches (retrofitting, redevelopment and greenfield development).

Public-private partnerships and adoption of the right set of technologies across segments are expected to be a critical component in development of these smart cities in India. Expected to become the new face of a modern India, these smart cities are expected to play an important role in establishing India as the economic powerhouse in the world.