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The opportunities for transforming municipal governance on the back of disruptive technology being implemented as part of the Smart City mission are enormous.

The Smart Cities mission, together with converged schemes like AMRUT, Swaach Bharat, etc., is catalysing significant investments into urban infrastructure. Over 2,800 projects are estimated to be in different stages of implementation across the 90 smart cities identified till now, with cumulative investments of around Rs 2,00,000 crore over the next 5-7 years. More importantly, across all cities, there is a consistent focus on using technology solutions for better operations management and citizen services. Typical projects taken up for implementation include sensor (at waste bin level) and GPS-based solid waste management, sensor based street lighting, intelligent traffic and transport management solutions, SCADA based water management solutions which use sensors for monitoring volume and quality of water. These individual solutions are proposed to be integrated at a central command cum control centre, which would also be equipped with surveillance and emergency response capability. One of the low hanging fruits is using technology to automate commonly used municipal services like issue of birth and death certificates, trade licenses, assessment and payment of property taxes, mutation of property and citizen grievance handling. The building blocks for automating these services are already in place. While internet bandwidth may still be a constraint in some cities, mobile phone penetration is adequate in most, backed by supporting digital platforms like Aadhaar, United Payments Interface, etc., which can be used for authentication and payments.

The missing links which are currently being developed by most cities under the Smart City Mission are the specific solutions or applications for individual municipal services, together with the back end database and front end interface (usually a city level portal) for interacting with citizens. The other key governance challenge which has often adversely impacted municipal services is the limited coordination between different agencies tasked with different aspects of city management. Thus, while the municipality is responsible for solid waste management, property mutation and taxes, etc., the police department oversees traffic and law and order, while water supply may fall under the jurisdiction of the public health engineering organisation and electricity under the power distribution utility.

In most cases, these agencies do not share data or information—be it in terms of citizens, infrastructure or specific events which need to be responded to. Limited coordination between agencies has often resulted in service delivery issues, inefficient use of resources and even revenue leakage. With convergence already being one of the stated objectives, the Smart City Mission offers a unique opportunity for all city-level agencies to share data, information and analysis to operate in a coordinated manner. The city command and control centre could serve as the platform for coordination between the different agencies since data from individual solutions would flow into it. All agencies would have to agree to share data, assets and infrastructure and set up institutional structures at multiple levels for coordinated action. The opportunities for transforming municipal governance on the back of disruptive technology being implemented as part of the Smart City mission are enormous. It is now up to each city to decide how much of this opportunity to leverage.


Autor(en)/Author(s): Arindam Guha

Quelle/Source: The Financial Express, 02.11.2017

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