The way to Smart Cities in India is for the Government to open and facilitate infrastructure, ease regulation for devices and create an open resource of public data that receives and provides information to and from local services.
Rapid urbanization is exerting positive pressure on the need of technology to replace tasks that were the domain of erstwhile (and in-efficient) service providers and infrastructure. A huge population, concentrated pockets of urban living and over-stressed facilities literally force the Government and its associated eco-systems to innovate and modernize their citizen service offerings. The new-age citizen is no longer willing to accept poor, incompetent and sometimes, non-existent services for everyday activities like commuting, sanitation, health and security. He wants to step-up and contribute in the areas that affect his family and quality of life.
Simple services like electricity and water, mass transit and travel, safety and security, access to health-care and housing are problems that foment innovation in delivery of these crucial must-haves. Smart City solutions aim at solving some of the biggest everyday challenges of urban living, some seemingly insurmountable, before the advent of this technology. Combined in various ways, they have resulted in innovations that are changing the face of urban India, directly impacting our quality of life in hundreds of ways – all with a big 'bang for your buck' kind of value.
All of these solutions stand on three pillars of modern technology that have now become the buzz-words in their own right – Wireless, the IoT (the Internet of Things) and Big Data. Put together, or integrated if you will, these form the real foundation of a future Smart City.
While these solutions have existed in isolated ways, it is the integration or the combination of all of them that has led to exponential value. Smart City systems do not necessarily have to mean large financial outlays and gigantic 5 Year development plans – rather, they can leverage existing infrastructure to quickly and economically solve real, practical and 'bite' size problems.
If the three pillars of technology were properly harnessed, with local and indigenous 'jugaad' being encouraged, the country would see a rapid-fire growth in simple systems that simply plug together to perform herculean tasks.
This can result in an open network of contributors, allowing small improvements, driven by highly specific and local needs, to plug in and ride on it. A great example of this method is Google Maps – crowd sourced information that is put in by local users, using their own devices to add Big Data; data that is useful to them in their own area, rather than a complex and expensive, detailed map of the world! In a planned development scenario, something that would have taken years to create would now be up and running in a matter of months, even days.
The way to Smart Cities in India is for the Government to open and facilitate infrastructure, ease regulation for devices and create an open resource of public data that receives and provides information to and from local services. Throw them open to scores of innovative Indians who can and will find a way to solve their own local problems – and make money doing it.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house