Smart cities will surely open up opportunities for lot of businesses. There is every possibility that innovative technologies will disrupt the markets for the legacy companies. But in view of the lack in resource and planning, the bigger question however is how to turn these existing cities Smart –
Smart City has emerged as a buzzword in India ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi outlined his vision for creating 100 Smart cities. At a simple level, a Smart City refers to a well- planned city that relies on IT as an enabler to solve many of its problems – from the use of sensors to smart grids and data analytics that allow city infrastructure and services to meet city problems and citizen demands efficiently and reliably.
Assistant Director, Integrated Research and Action for Development, CoE – Urban Development and Climate Change, Ministry of Urban Development
Smart cities will surely open up opportunities for lot of businesses. It will have technology at its core. There is every possibility that innovative technologies will disrupt the markets for the legacy companies. Moreover, Smart city initiatives are driven by public sector initiatives and will on the long run have a big impact on businesses.
However it is not an easy task to build these cities smart. The Government of India has undoubtedly taken the first steps through their focus on developing 100 ‘smart cities’, but technology infrastructure is obviously critical and that needs to be built up rapidly so that valuable services can be delivered.
Like for instance, between 2014 and 2050 India will add 404 million people to its cities, according to the United Nations. And it is not possible to scale and provide the urban services like education, healthcare, security, and government services with limited resources.
Indian cities are facing increasing pressures on their existing resources already. Transforming towns into their smart versions that more efficiently deliver citizen services and amenities is critical to sustain the attractiveness and growth of these urban centers. These services need to be innovative and factor in the local realities like local practices, (computer) literacy, privacy, and device accessibility. They need to take into consideration the citizens’ expectations of tomorrow and technologies of the future like IOT so that we build cities that are “Smart” not just today but also tomorrow.
Sounding a bit skeptical, GK Bhat, Chairman – TARU says, “It is most necessary to value the local natural resources and their ecological functions (such as flood control, groundwater recharge, biodiversity etc.) If these are integrated with city wide systems, the city development will be efficient more resilient.”
He points out that first of all, the smart city development is expected to close the waste loops in water and energy loops, which are currently “use and waste” systems. There is considerable scope to reduce water use through recycling waste water at local levels,
A variety of measures would be required to reduce peak demands, which is a major cause of power breakdowns. “Our summer demands are growing due to widespread adoption of air conditioning. A small part of the energy can be generated by solar and other renewables on small scales. These energy systems can reduce peak external energy demand to some extent. Cooling of cities can be done through higher vegetation cover and managing water bodies to some extent,” he says.
Next comes public transport, which is again a big challenge. Public Transport would require both large investments as well as building trust and behaviour change, according to him. “This is going to be a challenge. Transportation systems of tomorrow are likely to shift to buying of service kilometres, which can reduce overall requirement of vehicles and reduce parking problems faced today. Shift to such systems can reduce overall vehicle demand and reduce the use of roads for parking and resultant congestion, which is a major problem today. Reduction number of vehicles on road and resultant congestion and traffic jams can significantly reduce air pollution,” Bhat admits.
Urban management is another transdisciplinary issue requiring synergistic inputs from various disciplines such as natural resource management, ecology, technology, sociology, economy and behaviour sciences. Also there is the need to explore clumsy solutions to complex problems, through engagement of multiple stakeholders, who influence the ultimate outcomes.
Rohit Magotra, Assistant Director, Integrated Research and Action for Development, CoE – Urban Development and Climate Change, Ministry of Urban Development cites that there is the need to include service level bench marks which are now used very extensively in describing cities. “The Ministry of Urban Development has well defined Service Level Benchmarks (SLBs) which are objectively verified indicators to measure the resilience of city as well. The indicators should cover the prescribed SLBs and smart city plans should include a road map of how SLBs can be achieved by each city.”
The Road to a Smart & Resilient City…
However a whole lot depends on how much the city planners will be able to build and integrate climate and city growth scenarios in urban planning. Smart cities can be resilient if the climate and economic uncertainties are taken into account. This year’s droughts as well as recurrent urban floods in many cities indicate that we need to account for these uncertainties while planning our water and energy systems for the cities. “Resilience has geo-physical, ecological, social and economic dimensions. It is necessary to integrate these factors in smart city planning. We need to be resource efficient, reduce wastage and develop circular economy across scales to deal with challenges of climate, ecology and economy,” Bhat says.
GIS based city mapping is an important indicator for climate resilient infrastructure and be included in the planning framework, according to Magotra. GIS offers decision-making system for city authorities and citizens to map and update the status of natural and manmade infrastructure.
Magotra further points it out that Critical service mapping is another essential component considering
worst scenarios (as was found in Srinagar and Vishakhapatnam where critical infrastructure collapsed and it took several days to start functioning back to normal). “Contingency plans are important attribute
of resilience and such plans should be salient feature for smart city plan. This should be prioritized on the basis of the climate vulnerability of each city,” he concludes.
Voice of the IT Industry
Dr AS Prasad
General Manager- Product Management and Marketing at Emerson Network Power, India
“While the Smart Cities mission and Mobility Technologies are slowly gaining traction, we still have a long way to go when it comes to offering quality bandwidth and good network infrastructure. The current Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) is not very promising and if we are to see a marked improvement in this figure, then we will have to undertake high-end upgradation of our network infrastructure to make connectivity a reality, only then will it impact the digital economy in a big way. We see Emerson Network Power participating in a big way in the Smart Cities Mission with our wide variety of solutions and products which can help in enhancing critical infrastructure to maximize efficiency of not only organizations but also government agencies thus helping the vision of Digital India and smart cities.”
Director of Sales, Physical Access Control, India and SAARC – HID Global
“With a more connected environment comes security risks. Organizations are realizing that one of the best ways to manage security is with an identity management solution, which offers mobile support, and two-factor authentication. From a HID Global perspective with respect to enterprises, organizations will get the best user experience, and security, by investing in ActivID Tap Authentication, which offers two-factor authentication. A recent study found that two-factor authentication was used by many of the respondent’s respective organizations. 44 percent of the respondents also said that they require their customers to use two-factor authentication for accessing services from their mobile devices. Securing employee, as well as customer access, is crucial since these points of access can be targeted, and used, to access enterprise resources.”
Director – Marketing (India & SAARC) – Trend Micro
“Considering the prospects of socio economic development the urban areas of India have to offer, migrating to those cities are today identical to opportunities and prosperity for millions of people around the world. Consequently, urban areas are overfilled along with the associated natural population growth, local and national policies and environmental changes and this trend will continue. Urbanization has its own pros and cons, while the pros are known to all, if we have to focus on the cons, swift urbanization adds to the stress of the resource base, adds to the swelling demand for energy, water and sanitation along with public services, education and healthcare. This establishes the fact that the social, economic and environmental issues are tightly interconnected. Moreover, urban areas greatly contribute to environmental degradation on local, regional and global scales.”
Regional Director, India & SAARC – Fortinet
“Smart city technologies like IoT and data analytics are expected to drive innovative business ideas in the future. But the new wave of smart city services and technologies are also expected to create new security vulnerabilities.
One constant in smart city deployments, it is that more data will be generated, processed and stored. Connected devices will generate huge data repositories. Businesses that adopt big data systems will see an even larger data deluge. Unfortunately, such data will also become attractive targets for corporate hackers. To protect huge amounts of data with large inflows and outflows, the bandwidth capabilities of security appliances will come to the fore. And when dealing with data analytics, it often isn’t just a single data set, but multiple repositories of data that may be combined and analyzed together by different groups of people.”
Head, Brand Advertising and Digital Marketing – Cisco
“While there is a tendency to focus the entire discussion about smart cities around technology like sensors, cameras, and software, these are important only because they allow for faster and better use of data to manage scarce resources and improve execution. What was once a visionary notion is now the new normal – Information and Communications technology (ICT) is as essential as the water, air and electricity.
Smart cities will establish radically new standards to ensure the effective use of technology to deliver services and manage complex civic problems. Cities will have to rely on true Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) to build and operate both physical and digital infrastructure, especially given continually tightening civic budgets and enormous infrastructural requirements.”
General Manager, Marketing and Operations – Microsoft India
“The platforms on which citizen services will be delivered must be secure and be able to withstand cyber attacks and protect citizen privacy. And it will be critical to build services and platforms that can cost-effectively and rapidly scale to be leveraged across India so that we can expand from 100 cities to all in a generation.
Microsoft has helped cities across the world become more efficient and improve the lives of its citizens. Microsoft CityNext is a citizen-first program that helps create smarter cities that cost-effectively meet citizens expectations on services from their civic institutions. We have identified more than 40 solution areas across eight domains that help address the vast majority of the challenges cities face today and have worked with our partners across the world to help cities transform though the latest technologies. And, our local partners and Azure cloud datacenters in India position us to help serve the great ambition of Smart Cities in this country.”
Director, Marketing & Market Development – Intel South Asia
“Experts predict the world’s urban population will double by 2050 – which means we’re adding the equivalent of seven cities the size of New Delhi to the planet every single year. In India, the urban population is currently 31% of the total population and it contributes over 60% of India’s GDP. It is projected that urban India will contribute nearly 75% of the national GDP in the next 15 years. Cities are therefore being referred to as the engines of economic growth. There is a crying need for the cities to get smarter to handle this large-scale urbanization and finding new ways to manage complexity, increase efficiency, reduce expenses, and improve quality of life.
Smart cities have the potential of becoming fertile grounds for innovation and the creation of new localized, smart products and services.. Increasing demand for everything from reliable energy to improved air quality and traffic flows will require innovation in these Smart Cities. Intel provides building blocks for IoT solutions that address these changing needs.”
Country Manager, India & SAARC – SanDisk Corporation
“The entire country is getting inter connected due to explosion of mobile. India has been witnessing rapid adoption of consumer electronics lately such as proliferation in mobile phones, digital cameras, personal computers and digital music players. There is an explosion in digital content necessitating the need for higher memory/storage and SanDisk is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the storage needs of the growing market. SanDisk is actively widening its reach in Tier 1 and 2 regions as part of our geo-expansion outreach, in order to elevate brand visibility by providing innovative storage solutions to our consumers. We have already started seeing success from these markets for our recent launches and we aim to take the success to higher scores.”
Director – GIGABYTE Technology (India) Pvt. Ltd.
“At the fundamental level, the smart city concept is bound to improve the spread of better healthcare, and standardized education delivery systems involving schools and colleges in Class C and D cities. Also, it will prove to be a boon for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), while increasing job opportunities in such companies. For IT Products or Services vendors like us, the smart city concept gives a big opportunity to spread the use of IT in regions that have not so far benefitted much with IT. Needless to say, it not only gives us a big business opportunity, but also a scope to participate in the development of the country’s basic IT infrastructure.”
Managing Director – Red Hat India & SAARC
“There will be huge amount of data being generated every second, but the businesses who will profit are the ones who will be able to make sense out of it. The larger organizations will have the technology resources but the ones who will be successful will be the ones who optimize their resources. India will see a wider adoption of technology across cities as against today which is concentrated in a few cities. Many technology-based startups will come up to cater to the new markets. Cloud, Virtualization and Software defined everything would gain more acceptance. Technology will intrude into people’s lives and there will be increasingly more focus and investment in this area leading to a better standard of living.”