Smart Cities gaining prominence in India with an increasing role of ICT

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Continuous advancements in current technologies such as machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, Internet of Things (IoT), and wireless sensor networks (WSNs) will play a crucial role in leading smart cities towards a smarter future. Hence, it is necessary for smart cities to enable multiple technologies across platforms and industries to deliver complex systems and solutions

India’s vision of progressed nation summarises the concept of ‘Smart cities’ to meet the future challenges and address the rapid urbanization of the country. In 2015, The Government of India, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, introduced ‘Smart Cities Mission’, an initiative to develop 100 cities in the country, to provide a standard quality of life and accelerate economic growth.

A ‘Smart city’ comprises different growth ideas with a focus on sustainability. It can be defined as a developed urban area that has well connected infrastructure and communication, sustainable real estate, market viability, etc., with an aim to boost productivity and socio-economic growth.

Continuous advancements in current technologies such as machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, Internet of Things (IoT), and wireless sensor networks (WSNs) will play a crucial role in leading smart cities towards a smarter future. Hence, it is necessary for smart cities to enable multiple technologies across platforms and industries to deliver complex systems and solutions.

Being an innovative city that uses Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and other technologies to improve the quality of life, reduce costs and resource consumption, enhance efficiency of urban services, and meet the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations, a smart city requires robust technologies that:

  • Facilitate working together of various ICT-systems from different vendors
  • Allow greater automation that enables city functions to be delivered effectively
  • Facilitate instrumentation through the use of multiple types of devices
  • Make data exchange quick between different types of network topology
  • Facilitate the use and aggregation of data by systems and services

ICT acts as a platform to gather and aggregate information and data from core field components such as economy, governance, environment, and society that build a smart city. It hence enables improved understanding of the functioning of a city, in terms of resource consumption, services, and lifestyles. All the field components need to be balanced well for a successful smart city.

ICT plays an integral role in providing advanced, scalable solutions

A smart city is not just about a single, or a certain industry segment, but spins around various components and technologies. Some of the key components of a smart city and ICT’s role in them are shown below:

Segment

Role of ICT

ICT-based solutions

Smart Energy

It helps in migrating consumer data into a single system, reduces Aggregate Technical and Commercial (AT&C) losses and improves available power resources.

Smart grids, Smart metering systems, Smart distribution systems

Smart Governance

It addresses the questions of how cities work, how they are organized, and how they can be made to work in more intelligent ways for citizens and businesses.

City performance dashboard, Asset management

solutions, Online citizen services

Smart Security

It enables improved safety and security of critical

Infrastructure, increased crime detection, improved security of public places and events, etc.

Intelligent public safety and surveillance, Dynamic resource management systems

Smart Transport

It provides periodic traffic forecast, journey planning mobile applications based on real time data, systems like car sharing, multi-modal transport scheduling, etc.

Intelligent transport systems, Automatic systems for reducing congestion, Smart parking

Smart Water

It provides predictive analysis based historic data, forecasting tools for chemical usage and filtration, energy monitoring and site performance reporting, customer friendly services for payment and receipts, etc.

Water quality meters, Leakage sensors, Water infrastructure management

Smart Healthcare

Healthcare services are made smarter by providing remote health care management, telemedicine,

ambulance management system, tracking of healthcare instruments, etc.

Remote systems for diagnostics and treatment, Smart health card, Electronic health record

Smart Education

ICT based education system enables access to quality content, monitoring systems and remote access, by providing a learning infrastructure that is flexible, interconnected and productive.

Systems for interactive two-way content delivery to students and teachers

Smart Waste management

It helps in tracking the state of solid waste in the city, coordinating activities of sanitation department, optimizing garbage pickup schedule, etc.

Bin monitoring with RFID tags, CCTV cameras at dumping sites, Geo-fencing of area & marking of important routes

Smart cities create business opportunities worth Rs.3,000 – 4,000 crore for ICT

A smart city opens up multiple growth opportunities across all industries. There is great potential for technology businesses in this growing market. Smart cities require the expertise of ICT companies to enable efficient use of available assets, resources and infrastructure. Furthermore, there are many benefits to deploying smart solutions, such as robust digitalization, improved productivity and service, energy efficiency, etc. This in turn would open up entry opportunities for companies across the globe with a market in India and provide them with a platform to export their services.

The Government of India has set aside Rs.48,000 crore for the development of smart cities and each selected city will get central assistance of Rs.100 crore annually for five years, under the Smart Cities Mission. Around 10-15% of the total project investments or about Rs.3,000 – 4,000 crore is the estimated opportunity for ICT companies in smart cities (Nasscom).

With huge investment in this space, smart cities would need to rely on the expertise of smart solutions business and knowledge of emerging technologies. ICT providers with proven domain expertise would be in high demand and business opportunities would be enormous.

Conclusion

Building a smart city is not an easy task, as it requires huge support from the Government with efficient coordination between service providers, urban local bodies, and the citizens. As the objective of a smart city is to provide a sustainable urban environment that improve the quality of life of the people, reliance on ICT becomes unavoidable.

The systems and solutions of smart cities leverage substantial data and information. A large number of applications and solutions are built as layers of the smart city architecture, where each application has its own ICT requirements and expectations. Therefore, creating a reliable communication and networking infrastructure becomes critical for efficient and effective data transmission.

The Government will have to rapidly invest in ICT innovations and infrastructure, as smart cities are growing, bringing with it increased urbanization and hence the need to address their strategic requirements and making them financially viable. It is also essential that governance structure becomes smart, in order to make the cities smart. Urban local bodies would need to make effective use of ICT in public administration to connect and coordinate between various departments and achieve the smart city goal.

ICT can enable people, systems and devices to be connected in different ways, and smart cities that embrace ICT’s potential can create better solutions, operate efficiently and pursue a sustainable urban future. Smart cities will lead India towards a developed nation and if deployed effectively and with sustainability as a core target, ICT can accelerate the progress.

Authored by Pramod Kolhapur, Assistant Manager, Hi-Tech Practice

 

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