If you have been wondering as to why the ‘smart city mission’ rules every significant conversation in India, know this; nearly six hundred million Indians are expected to live in urban landscapes by 2030*. A 56% rise from 2011. The gigantic rate of influx has put urban India under enormous pressure of providing for quality living. With just a handful of cities to count on, momentous measures are needed to restore the balance.
Consequentially, after much deliberation the government unveiled its vision of developing smart cities as the answer; 100 smart cities as satellite towns of larger cities to provide for the mounting urbanisation. While the preliminary nominations are already complete and subsequent evaluations are under process; professionals are raking their head into providing better infrastructure setups and designers are busy planning on renewable economic practices, as it puts tremendous amount of money at stake.
But what exactly does a smart city mean to you and me? An urban space meticulously planned with sustainable environment, assimilated digitally to improve efficiency of its citizens? Or simply an urban estate with integrated basic facilities such as telecom, tourism, public utilities, education, infrastructure, public safety, transportation and healthcare for its residents. And technology, of course to empower the entire infrastructure. Sounds like a handful? Ever wondered what could be that one element without which all of this could simply crumble?
It is the young and open minds who can bring about a synergy of all the important aspects and make them sustainable through various small things which may be too obvious to get noticed. But when looked at, they rise to the top instantly. Getting to the bottom of it, it is people and their way of life that will condition and empower any Smart City. And how will that happen?
Communication – Between people. Plus between people and the Government. What was a one-sided communication for many decades, needs to become more inclusive. Social media, for one, is an open platform that can aid very healthy communication.
Culture – Culture precedes commerce. All countries and cities doing well have their roots deep in culture. It is culture that binds people into a community. India is culture-rich already. We just need to put it to use.
Humanity – Love for peers, which ultimately leads to safety; particularly for women and children. Open communication and education play their part in fostering love amongst communities.
Creativity – Art, most definitely has the power to drive thought. Street art, theatres, cinema, are just few out of many areas that still have unexploited potential in our country.
Innovation – sometimes simplicity is the best innovation. A recent initiative taken by the Government is worth mentioning here. Crowd Sourcing. Volunteers are being invited amongst masses to help digitize heaps of information documented on paper*. Humungous investment in hiring manpower can be saved while initiating a healthy inclusive interaction between people and the Government!
‘Smart City’ is definitely the answer to better economic growth and effective livability. It gives good opportunity to pick learnings from past experiences of running cities that have been organically growing in size but losing essence over time. Filling in the gaps and rectifying the wrongs, together we can make the ‘Smart City’ model a success in our country. It is time to get more inclusive and walk together as a healthy and happy community that enjoys the fruit of a ‘Smart’ growth.
*Sources: www.makeinindia.com, http://www.nextbigwhat.com/government-digitise-documents-297/
About the author
Nitasha Jain is Manager, Marketing & Communications for Colliers International in India. She has 9+ years of experience in building focused and effective communication for diverse fields including Real Estate, IT, Hospitality and Lifestyle.