GBF 2015 Theme: Making Sensible, Monitored, Responsive and Timely (SMART) Choices
A better quality of life with provision of basic infrastructure and educational/social facilities and increased economic efficiencies are some of the prominent aspects of a “Smart Liveable” city. For a city to be liveable and smart, public infrastructure management, maintenance, integrated operations and citizen services should be given maximum weightage. In case of brown field cities where the charter of developing the city is already in place, an overhauling approach needs to be considered.
The theme for our SIG is broad based and pertains to any of the areas described next at a pilot scale. The pilot scale has been chosen as the theme to ensure that the ideas/ discussions/ technologies/ policies are realistic and that all elements are considered at the small implementable scale. For example if we are looking at mobility issues and the focus is pedestrian paths, then we would like to look at a pilot scale, say an area of 1 sq km, where this can be applied. This will ensure that our discussion is not theoretical but practical and realistic.
The Smart Liveable Cities SIG is expected to have significant impact in the development of realistic proposals that can be implemented quickly. While the subject area is vast, we have chosen to focus on projects/policies/technologies at a pilot scale level so that they are easier to implement and learn from, before applying at a larger scale. In particular, we will focus on Citizen/Public involvement, Mobility, Infrastructure and Governance.
While there has been a lot of hype recently on Smart Cities, we have introduced the Liveability quotient in it so that the citizen and practical connect serves as a constant reminder. Additionally, the focus is not just on introducing “smartness” but rather ensuring that whatever facilities are provided to the citizens are fit for purpose. This may mean that prior to introducing intelligent traffic signal systems (technology) we ensure that the street design is appropriate, the various modes including pedestrians and buses are catered for and basic infrastructure such as storm water drains and kerb heights are considered. We do expect technology to be an enabler rather than be the panacea for all cures.
The city belongs to its citizens and only when solutions are mutually formed can we develop and become an active, civic society. Mobility is more than just providing roads and rapid rail transit. There is an urgent need to encompass individual user needs. Elements such as SMART pedestrian walkways, interactive transit stations like informative bus stops design increase the reliability and efficiency of public transportation systems. Additionally, mixed usage of land for integrated commercial, residential, social and office layouts should be stressed on.
Similarly, prior to considering smart metering for water we need to ensure that there is a basic level of water provision for both residents and commercial use. This can then be enhanced by ensuring that rainwater harvesting is performed. Efforts should be made to develop new storage tanks to meet local demands and increase treatment efficiencies of water treatment plants.
Indian cities generate more than 100 million tonnes of solid waste a year. Lack of storage and collection facilities, open truck transportation usage, space constraints are the major issues faced in managing solid waste. Technology can be used judiciously for city sanitation purpose, but it is only an enabler and not the solution itself. The collection mechanism and issues related to waste collectors have to be addressed first. Then simple solutions such as colour coded dust bins and sweeper machines should be brought into implementation to manage the situation. There is also a need to bring about a change in the citizen’s behaviour especially for “waste segregation at source”. Persuasive and human technologies have shown potential in bringing change in people’s behaviour. Such use of technology can enable SMART citizens.
Apart from modernising transmission & distribution infrastructure, smart grids can transform the Indian power sector into a secure and sustainable ecosystem that provides reliable and quality energy. Renewable energy generation, rolling out smart grid, introducing electrical vehicles, and reducing losses and enabling access should be looked into
Participatory and inclusive forms of governance apart from the numerous opportunities for creativity should be provided to citizens for giving a better shape to a smart liveable city. Having a strong bent of mind towards developing human and social capital should also be given prominence. For this, various citizen interfaces can be developed so that the authorities can engage and interact with the citizens. The smart liveable cities should not only provide the best of the services, but also facilitate social interaction, which is pivotal in making lives interesting for the citizens. The horizon of the smart citizen services which are already under implementation in some selected parts of the country can be broadened throughout. These services include e-district, e-municipality, optical fiber network, national knowledge network, among many others. Cities are repositories of knowledge. Including the SMART component makes information related to its metrics accessible to the citizens so that they have a clear idea while developing products, services and businesses, which in turn can help in diversifying the economic growth potential for the cities.
The concept of smart and green liveable buildings can also help in checking and controlling the operational conditions and help optimise performance and reduce energy demand. Geographic informative maps with solar and wind data, along with smart streetlights (equipped with daylight sensors) can enable design and innovation of small scale renewables.
Healthcare should also be given priority in a smart liveable city. Technological insights into health issues powered with medical collaboration can actually pave way for a better and healthy society. Smart health cards, e-health records, real-time database on availability of medical provisions can in fact boost the efficiency of healthcare services in urban India. The process of tele-medication can also be of immense help whereby consultations can be provided through various telecommunication channels.
The holistic development of smart liveable cities in India therefore needs a sharper and balanced focus on infrastructure, governance initiatives and active participation from the citizens, with ICT helping as an enabler.