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In Smart City Plan, People Should Be The Main Focus

In last five years, Barcelona has transformed itself into one of the most advanced European cities. The city has smartly embedded technology with green living together and has created a city, which is smart, healthy and retaining its vibrant culture. Antonio Vives, CEO of City Transformation Agency, Barcelona the man behind the transformation of Barcelona into a Smart City, in a brief chat with BW Smart Cities

You said India should not look at western model to develop smart cities? What according to you should be the model for India?

India cities are unique in its own way and it has got enough talent to generate its own model. The country has its unique culture and wonderful historical and architectural which must be preserved while creating the city plan.

Smart City is all about identifying the requirements of its citizens. It is about how we made life easier for our senior citizens, safer for a young woman and inclusive to differently abled. It sounds cool to talk about hi-tech solutions but if there is no benefit to citizen, then what would be the point of spending money? The model should be integrating technology with citizen’s need.

Barcelona has one of the best mobility among the global cities? How you planned the smart mobility for the city?

Mobility is an important factor for any smart city. However we kept one thing in mind. We used multi-modal strategy, advancing the use of electric cars and bike sharing, and at the same time investing heavily in improving the bus transport and parking systems.

In Barcelona our bus stops are digital and more interactive for the commuters. We have live updates on bus location, there are free wi-fi, USB charging stations, which make waiting for the bus a constructive and interactive experience, encouraging more people to take bus. Also we put focus on green mobility by focussing on electric vehicles and creating space for walking and cycling.

And that is how you made cycling trendy?

When we were creating the mobility plan, we were clear about the thing that roads are for people, not for just vehicles, so people were priority. So there should be equal space for pedestrian, cycling and vehicles. So we created cycling tracks for people to enjoy the ride.

You are engaged with India’s Smart City Programme. What is your experience so far?

At present we are working with two Indian cities, one is Amaravati, which is a greenfield city and Pune Smart City. Mobility is one of the main challenges of Indian cities and India needs to invest in greener, faster and comfortable public transport like metro. Some people say it is a wasteful exercise but it is worth investing to keep cities functional in the future.

Infrastructure is about creating smart parking space which will decongest the city and will improve the congestion and pollution. Bus is an important mode and the bus ride can be made enjoyable by investing in smart buses and bus stops so that riders enjoy both the ride and waiting at buses.

India should invest in creating cycling paths, which encourage people to take up cycling which is greener and healthier option. Also to make cities smarter it is important to invest in social infrastructure like hospitals.