Smart cities. Ahoy!
Hi guys, recently the Prime mister of India, Shri. Narendra Modi, announced the building of 98 smart cities across the country. Now the question we all want to know, what is a smart city? Well according to reports, smart cites have to make optimal use of the land to reduce congestion, pollution, boost economy and ensure security. It should also include housing opportunities for all as well as have a planned transport system, taking into account pedestrians and cyclists. It should also have parks, playgrounds and open spaces for recreational activities. The aim of these cities is to improve the overall quality of life for the residents.
Yes, it does seem difficult but not impossible. There are many smart cities around the world such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Stockholm and Santa Cruz.
In Amsterdam, to reduce traffic, save energy and improve public safety the government, residents and businesses initiated 79 projects. They have also developed an app that allows owners of parking spaces to rent it out to people for a fee. An interesting initiative called flexible street lighting has been started allowing the municipality to control the brightness of street lights.
Unsurprisingly, India too has taken steps towards creating a smart city most notably in this year’s Kumbh Mela, Nashik. With over 30 million pilgrims attending the festival, a concept to re-imagine the Kumbh Mela through collaboration and collective intelligence was initiated.
This helped the creation of Kumbhathon – an open innovation platform which can be used to crowdsource the challenges of the 2015 Kumbh Mela. Concerns such as health, transport, food, etc. were collected with the help of citizens and presented to experts to find low-cost solutions. The learnings from Kumbhathon could be applied to address similar issues in refugee camps, festivals or other developing cities around the world.
Our very own Bangalore also moved towards becoming a smart city when a local NGO took responsibility for the redevelopment of a neighbourhood, Shantinagar. The project Next Bengaluru, engaged and enlightened locals on urban planning and tapped into their knowledge of the area using the latest technology.
The most important aspect of this exciting project was to identify abandoned urban spaces and start a conversation with the civic officials to find a solution. Within 3 months 1,200 residents visited the area and the team crowdsourced over 600 ideas for redevelopment and planning.
If we take a closer look at India, many developers are creating smart cities of their own by building smart townships. One of the pioneers of this initiative is Tata Value Homes. Their projects in Bengaluru, New Haven and Riva, are setting the standards of smart townships across the nation and are a talking point for the whole nation. Equipped with a gym, healthcare facilities, café, retail zone, etc. and its close proximity to the metro station and highways, these townships are soon becoming the blue print for smart cities across the country.