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Imagine a futuristic transformation of India’s cities that goes beyond the usual, where traffic flows smoothly, energy is used judiciously, and waste is managed efficiently. This is where India’s Smart City Mission comes into the picture. It is all about transforming cities with intelligence and innovation while harnessing the power of technology to build sustainable, efficient and livable urban environments. These cities are meant to be designed for the future, staying adaptable to rapid technological advancements in the years to come. Launched on 25 June 2015, the mission selected 100 cities across the country to be developed as Smart Cities with the aim of driving economic growth and improving quality of life through comprehensive work on social, economic, physical and institutional pillars of the city.

India’s Current Status in the Smart City Mission

There has been notable progress in the development of smart urban centers across the country. Until last month, 80% to 100% work under the mission has been completed in 57 cities. These cities have undergone infrastructural upgrades, implemented technology-driven solutions, and embraced innovative governance models. While it is an ambitious vision, the journey has not been without its share of challenges. The Centre had to revise the timeline for the mission, initially from June 2021 to June 2023 and subsequently to June 2024. A recent report from the Housing and Urban Affairs committee, presented in the Lok Sabha, highlighted that 400 projects, out of 7970, would require more time, extending beyond December 2024 for completion.

Smart Cities Navigate Tech Challenges

In the journey of adding the ‘Smart’ quotient in India’s cities, several technological hindrances emerge as a central concern, slowing down the goal of creating 100% smart urban centers. One primary challenge lies in the integration and synchronization of diverse technologies across various urban domains. Insufficient and outdated technological frameworks in certain regions pose hurdles in implementing advanced systems for traffic management, energy optimisation, and other developmental activities. Achieving interoperability among smart systems that ensure seamless communication and data sharing also becomes a complex issue. Additionally, the pace of infrastructure development and adaptation should match the rapid pace of technological advancements and newer upgrades such as 6G and generative artificial intelligence without any compatibility issues. Concerns over data privacy and cybersecurity also loom large, requiring robust measures to safeguard sensitive information from potential threats. In the larger picture, navigating this technological landscape requires a concerted effort in upgrading urban infrastructure, and fortifying digital resilience to create 100% Smart Cities in India.

ICT Players Lead Charge to address Complex Tech Challenges

Strategic collaborations with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies can help Smart cities effectively address technological issues. These companies seamlessly integrate end-to-end connectivity, robust network infrastructure, and cutting-edge smart solutions to shape the cities of tomorrow. From intelligent transportation systems to energy-efficient buildings and interconnected waste management systems, hybrid multi-cloud system can pave the way for innovative and integrated smart infrastructure solutions. The expertise of ICT firms can assist smart cities in adopting newer technologies as they emerge, fostering interoperability and smooth communication across city services. These companies offer valuable insights into cutting-edge technologies such as, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT), empowering cities with real-time monitoring and informed decision-making capabilities. For instance, the implementation of AI-powered traffic cameras and number plate recognition technology has reduced 20% traffic violation cases in Delhi. Mumbai launched a similar system during May 2023, projected to decrease 15% traffic congestion, thereby reinforcing the transformative impact of AI applications in urban infrastructure. In line with this, digital-twin technology is an emerging component of ICT. It creates a virtual model of a physical object or process, thereby simulating real life situations and their outcomes. A prime example here is that of Thiruvananthapuram Smart City, pla­nning to incorporate this technology to map its residential and commercial buildings. While governments play a pivotal role in shaping smart cities, their effectiveness lies in collaborating with ICT players, that combine innovation and technological prowess to create the Smart Cities of tomorrow. By addressing the hurdles, putting people first, and drawing inspiration from successful smart cities like Singapore and Abu Dhabi, Indian cities can redefine the ‘Smart’ quotient for its citizens.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Pinkesh Kotecha

Quelle/Source: Tech Circle, 02.04.2024

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