- Published: 22 September 2023
Matthew Britt, General Manager (Smart Cities) at Honeywell Building Solutions, the driving force behind the Bangalore Safe City project, sheds light on the intricate nature of transforming existing urban landscapes into smart cities.
Eight years since Prime Minister Modi's ambitious Smart City Mission was first announced, the chief architect of the Bangalore Safe City project has acknowledged that building a smart city is a lot harder to pull off within existing infrastructure.
"That particular mission (Bangalore Safe City) was very specifically driven around public safety and not transforming city operations," said Matthew Britt, General Manager (Smart Cities) at Honeywell Building Solutions, "It was just about 'let's put some cameras over here and let's use some analytics'."
He added: "Aside of being able to view crime statistics and response times, it's a lot harder for citizens to see (progress) because it is ultimately all about trying to improve the operational efficiency of the government itself."
Britt was responding to a CNBC-TV18 question on the progress of India's Smart City Mission at Honeywell's headquarters in Charlotte, in the context of public perception surrounding the prime minister's pet project. He added that "transformational" smart city projects are those that are started from scratch.
"You see the more transformational type of (Smart City) projects in greenfield locations like Egypt because it's frankly a lot harder to change things when you have a network of buildings across the city, and all this infrastructure that's already existing," said Britt.
In March, global technology major Honeywell announced that it had implemented the first phase of the Bangalore Safe City Project, focused on women's safety through the company's connected safety and security technology. This included 7,000 AI-equipped cameras at over 3,000 strategic locations within Bengaluru, with the aim of improving response times to public safety incidents.
In July, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development said that 5,909 out of 7,978 smart city projects were already complete, which translated to a conversion of 74 percent. Of the Rs 73.454 crore released by the Centre for the Smart City Mission, approximately Rs 66,000 crore has been utilised. The total cost of projects under the Smart City Mission is approximately Rs 1.79 crore, with the remainder borne by state governments or local bodies.
Despite the healthy completion conversion rate of 74 percent and public funding, the government's smart city plan has received criticism for multiple drawbacks.
Earlier this year, just ahead of Prime Minister Modi's visit to Pune (one of the earliest smart cities), local body officials were trying to fill potholes. In 2021, Chennai's iconic retail landmark, T-Nagar, part of the Smart City Mission saw widespread flooding owing to poorly maintained storm-water drains.
Honeywell says there is reason to believe a shift towards sustainability of India's smart cities could be in the offing. "We're seeing these conversations happening more comprehensively now than before," said Britt, "You have top levels of government finally starting to realize that it (smart city development) is difficult in a brownfield environment, and requires way more coordination among different department heads and silos in order to do all these things."
Aside of the Bangalore Safe City project, Honeywell has helped develop the Atlanta BeltLine, where 35 kilometres of abandoned railway lines were developed into connected smart city hubs. The company has also been involved in developing smart city technology at Egypt's new administrative capital, 45 kilometres East of Cairo.
Autor(en)/Author(s): Jude Sannith
Quelle/Source: CNBC-TV18, 15.09.2023