Smart cities: Can Technology and Data Transform India?

By Disha Sachdeva

Smart cities are the ones where efficient systems tax minimally, where lighting adjusts itself suitably, where sensors and camera track roads and public spaces in real time, where internet connectivity is strong and where water and sewages are properly piped.

Such  smart cities use a blend of technology and data to improve civic decisions and some examples are Masdar City, UAE and PlanIT, Portugal.

India too, wants a part of this smart by making efforts to improve its infrastructural facilities. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put forth his plans to build over 100 smart cities which will have better housing, 24 hour water and electricity supply, clean air, education, health, entertainment, sports and transportation in the country. And to bring about this development, the role of technology cannot be undermined.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]Technology will help provide services to people in an effective manner. It will be used to harness information about the processes of the city and therefore, help in better policy framing. [/su_pullquote]

Social programs can be targeted better to improve the quality of human development in an area. Technology will also help cities to make a better allocation and use of their economic resources.

However, in India, a barrier to this vision is weak local urban authorities which are not skilled and equipped enough to handle advancements. Having sensors and cameras in India where privacy protection is weak might backfire. Also, technology evolves very fast and becomes obsolete in no time.

Public- private partnerships might help. Companies like IBM and Microsoft help governments in digital service delivery. Cisco has a project whereby it helps Bengaluru Police to file FIRs electronically. Free wifi is people friendly and can help the government achieve many goals. Like, if someone finds a pothole in Karnataka, he or she can click its picture and send it to Karnataka MobileOne app. Clean technology is another solution. Due to increased pressure on non -renewable resources in recent times, the focus needs to shift to the development of solar and other renewable energy forms.

Technology needs to be responsive to the people who live in a city. Then it will work wonders and hence, we will have both smart people and smart city.

Disha Sachdeva is a 2nd year student pursuing Bachelor of Commerce from Shri Ram College of Commerce. Her biggest fear is that her ‘To Be Read’ list might be longer than her life expectancy. She is a feminist who prefers to hear both sides of a story before forming her opinion. She tries to balance her academics, societies, MBA preparation and attendance together and hopes to be fluent in Dothraki one day!

Edited by Namrata Caleb, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist