Smart cities hold the key to a better quality of life, but they need to be done right
The dream is clear; the nation is looking to build 100 Smart Cities across the country and Rs 7,060 crore was set aside in the 2014 Budget. But the question remains, is this an idea whose time has come, and why should we pursue it?
As India’s urban populace explodes, smart cities can be a magnet for greater investment since they use the transformative power of technology. Technology is a powerful enabler, and its use in diverse areas such as monitoring traffic, improving energy provision, collating health care information, predict traffic patterns and much more will create a ripple effect in terms of how our cities will operate in the years to come.
Make no mistake, there is a genuine need for this. By 2050, the world’s population is projected to be more than 9 billion, with roughly 70% of them residing in urban areas. As more people flock to cities, there is an urgent demand for smarter, more sustainable cities. However, while shifting investment toward technology-savvy infrastructure in cities can be seen as a positive step, regulating how this technology is leveraged will be key in creating meaningful, long-lasting change.
While leveraging the latest technologies can result in safer, more efficient cities with a higher quality of life, for their full potential to be unlocked we will need more effective governance that responds rapidly to citizen needs. Many Indian cities see inadequate cooperation among different sectors of government, and this can manifest itself in ineffective spending that fails to create the desired impact. For instance, data shouldn’t be kept in silos and instead shared, for it can help in better decision making.
Smart cities should also be evaluated based on their ability to provide equitable economic opportunity and access to basic infrastructure for all residents. If done right, smart cities can deliver improved services and a better quality of life.