Smart Strategies for the Smart Cities and Urban Renewal – The Road Ahead

January 7th, 2015
 
HIGHLIGHTS

  • A smart city is one which uses digital technologies to enhance performance and well being, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens.
  • Due to the rapid urbanization and development taking place, the construction of smart cities has become a necessity.
  • Keeping the rising demands of the Indian population in mind, the PM has declared the construction of 100 new smart cities in the country. He has stated that the smart cities need to be region-specific and not a generalized concept as practiced earlier.
  • There are a few features of a smart city which are going to be common for all the cities. These include improvements in institutional and physical structure, investment friendly, better housing, 24 hour water and electricity supply, sanitation, clean air, education, health, security entertainment, sports and mobility.
  • Despite being more energy efficient than the current cities, the amount of energy required by a smart city is still more than the amount produced in the country right now. Apart from constructing smart cities, the infrastructure of the existing cities needs to be upgraded.

 

Smart Cities for Sustainable Development

  • The deteriorating health of the planet has made sustainable development a necessity.
  • Continuous thought and effort is needed so that the ecological balance which has been upset by mindless industrialization can be righted once again.
  • As the population and digitization of the world grow, the energy demands will also grow. To counter this problem, technology can be used to increase the efficiency and thereby reducing the energy demand.
  • Using Information Technology to tackle urban problems is one of the characteristic features of a smart city.

 

Why are smart cities needed?

  • Cities are in a steadily increasing global competition for talent, so to remain competitive, cities need to attract and retain talented and skilled workers. Smart Cities often have an advantage over other cities due to their strong innovation ecosystems and industry expertise.
  • Since the resources are finite and limited budgets, cities must build smarter, using technology to more efficiently manage and use existing infrastructure as well as for planning for future growth.
  • Climate departure has made energy efficiency an urgent issue. There are many ways in which urban efficiency can be increased, like more efficient street lighting, green buildings, increased public transportation use, and reductions in traffic.

 

Challenges

  • The success of such a city depends on residents, entrepreneurs and visitors becoming actively involved in energy saving and implementation of new technologies. There are many ways to make residential, commercial and public spaces sustainable by ways of technology, but a high percentage of the total energy use is still in the hands of end users.
  • Concentrated urbanization leads to a concentration of energy on specific spots. This may easily lead to blackouts or burnouts of the network, which then hampers the economy.
  • With the entire city mapped by CCTV cameras, the risk of the information being misused will also dramatically increase.

 
Recommendations

  • Since the concept of smart cities revolves around information technology, high end technology can be used to predict and solve the problems which come with any major change. Similar to what is taking place in China where supercomputers are being used for digitize the planning, designing, construction and property management of buildings in a smart city.
  • Smart cities need smart networks to which everything is hooked. To achieve this, internet penetration needs to be worked upon.
  • The cities should, therefore, shift towards smart metering at the household level and the establishment of a smart grid and its integration with the renewable sources to meet the demand such as solar and wind energy.
  • The focus should be on green buildings and green transport to reduce the need for electricity.
  • The city has to be developed in such a way that it is built around the socialist economic structure rather than the capitalist structure. A smart city is not an expensive city; rather it’s a city of opportunities, quality of life and sustainability.
  • The government needs to identify the comparative or unique advantage and core competence in specific areas of economic activities in the specific city and promote such activities aggressively, by developing the required institutional, physical, social and economic infrastructures for it and attracting investors and professionals to take up such activities.

 
 

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