India is developing at a very fast pace. Urbanization in the wake of enhanced employment opportunities has put a huge pressure on the cities due to a large migration of people from rural to urban areas. 31% of the population of India lives in cities. Indian cities are not ready to handle this overwhelming migration of population from villages to cities. It has put tremendous pressure on cities. There is a problem of electricity, water supply, living spaces etc. To solve this huge crisis, smart cities are being developed. These cities are being developed to make the life of people living in these cities easier and more pleasant. There is also an added advantage of new job opportunities for the unemployed youth of the country. Hence the youth migrating from the villages of India will have equal opportunities. It will also reduce the crime rate and raise the literacy rate in the country. All the technological assets of the city will be utilized as a better way. This will create a better tomorrow for the citizens and also create a better environment for the people to live in. However, there is still a dilemma that on what ‘key indicators’ should a city be converted into a smart city.
The smart city is visualized differently by different stakeholders for the lack of a standardized or a universal definition. The conceptualization of smart city, therefore, varies from city to city and country to country, depending on the level of development, willingness to change and reform, resources and aspirations of the city residents. A smart city would have a different connotation in India than, say, Europe. The following statements and views reflect the understanding of smart cities in layman terms:
- A city can be deemed as a smart city only when it uses technology for the betterment of the standard of living of the people. The city should be able to utilize all means of communication and technology to combat future problems as well as current issues. A large amount of data has to be analyzed on a day to day basis to address day to day issues.
- A city that follows at least 5 out of 8 of the following parameters, viz. smart energy, smart building, smart mobility, smart healthcare, smart infrastructure, smart technology, smart governance and smart education & smart citizen, will be deemed as a smart city.
- A city where there is an interaction between people and machines for the various purposes like fulfilling of the economic and social needs of society. This has to include use of technology in various fields like energy, materials, services and financing.
- A city that uses Information and communication technologies (ICT) to manage the city’s assets which include, but not limited to, local departments information systems, schools, libraries, transportation systems, hospitals, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, and other community services, can be called a smart city.
- A smart city is essentially an urban region which uses highly advanced technologies in the overall infrastructure, sustainable real estate, communications and market viability. These cities use Information and communication technologies (ICT) extensively for providing services to the residents.
- A city that uses smart technologies (IOT) to improve the quality of life of the residents of the city and also to build a sustainable and clean environment for the residents of the city can be termed as a smart city.
- A highly advanced urban region that uses manpower and ICT for advancements in key areas like economy, mobility, environment, people, living, and government.
India as the 2nd most populous country and almost always inundated with huge religious/social/sectoral diversities has not been able to demonstrate its potential in terms of quality of living to the world. Any kind of development that has taken place in the country is dwarfed by the ever growing need and demands of this mammoth population. Though India is developing fast, it still needs to tackle the issue of urbanization on a wider scale. Failed attempts in urbanization will pose serious impediments in growth of our economy and will possibly turn away investment opportunities as well. Seemingly distant, but creation of smart cities can create an eco-system facilitating good quality of life for residents, reliable opportunities for residents in education, healthcare, transportation, governance etc and favorable financial model for service providers.
It is widely recognized that technology can play the role of a big leveler providing equal opportunities to the disadvantaged sections of the society. We feel that smart cities could just be that leveler where every resident will be able to utilize and appreciate quality services without having to shell out exorbitant money. In this research paper, we have talked about various key services of smart cities operational across the world with their indigenous achievements. However, we feel that no smart city model being practiced elsewhere in the world should be replicated in India blindly.
Different services that have been put to use globally can however guide Indian smart cities on their path towards development. We should also do away with “ONE SIZE FITS ALL” mindset and should critically evaluate every smart city proposition with rigorous analysis and decision matrices duly supported with broad forecasting features. Even if we come to consensus with respect to suitability of a proposed smart city model in Indian context, still we should check the grit and sustainability of the said smart city when its put to test against the onslaught of population that has been a huge problem for the country.
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