Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) launches the National Urban Digital Mission (NUDM) along with other digital initiatives for Urban Governance

The Digital initiatives were launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs along with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. The event was attended by Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Electronics and IT and Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State (I/C), Housing and Urban Affairs

A number of digital initiatives focussing on urban governance were launched today by Minister, Electronics and Information Technology, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, and MoS (I/C) Housing and Urban Affairs, Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, in the presence of Secretaries of the respective Ministries, and other officers of the Central and State Governments. 

At the event, the National Urban Digital Mission (NUDM) was launched along with other digital initiatives of MoHUA vis. India Urban Data Exchange(IUDX), SmartCode, Smart Cities 2.0 website, and Geospatial Management Information System (GMIS). These initiatives are among the ongoing efforts of both Ministries to realize the Prime Minister’s vision of Digital India and AtmaNirbhar Bharat, by making cities more self-reliant and enabled to meet the needs of and provide services to their citizens. 

By adopting a flexible and extensible approach, with a range of choices for cities based on their needs and capabilities, these initiatives deliver on the promise of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwaas”. They will enable cities and towns across India to enhance Ease of Living and Ease of Doing Business for their residents. 

National Urban Digital Mission (NUDM)

The National Urban Digital Mission (NUDM) will create a shared digital infrastructure for urban India, working across the three pillars of people, process, and platform to provide holistic support to cities and towns. It will institutionalize a citizen-centric and ecosystem-driven approach to urban governance and service delivery in 2022 cities 2022, and across all cities and towns in India by 2024. 

Launch of NUDM was announced by Hon’ble MoS (I/C) Hardeep Singh Puri today. The National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) has been nominated as the anchor institution to administer the operationalization of NUDM.

  • NUDM will create a shared digital infrastructure that can consolidate and cross-leverage the various digital initiatives of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, enabling cities and towns across India to benefit from holistic and diverse forms of support, in keeping with their needs and local challenges.
  • NUDM is citizen-centric, ecosystem-driven, and principles-based in both design and implementation. NUDM has articulated a set of governing principles and inherits the technology design principles of the National Urban Innovation Stack (NUIS), whose strategy and approach were released by MoHUA in February 2019. The principles in turn give rise to standards, specifications, and certifications, across the three pillars of people, process, and platforms.
  • NUDM will be operationalized through a number of impact programs, at both the national and the state level. These programs will focus on the development, implementation, and adoption of digital platforms including inter alia National Urban Governance Platform (NUGP), National Urban Learning Platform (NULP), India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX), and SmartCode. These platforms will enable the digital transformation of urban governance in 2022 ULBs 2022, and in all cities and towns across India by 2024.
  • All platforms under NUDM are built following the stack approach, which means that they are a combination of microservices - each microservice being a digital building block that offers a specific functionality in a stable and reliable way across a range of contexts in the urban domain. These building blocks can be assembled in various configurations to meet specific needs. Thus, rather than scaling a given solution, the shared digital infrastructure created by NUDM distributes the capacity to solve to ULBs themselves, at speed and scale.
  • Recognizing that ULBs across India are at various stages of their digital transformation journey, NUDM has developed a flexible choice architecture, backed by the modular nature of the digital platforms. ULBs that want to develop their own solutions can leverage both the digital building blocks as well as blueprints, standards, guidelines, and frameworks to create solutions with an assurance of their functionality.

India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX)

The India Urban Data Exchange has been developed in partnership between the Smart Cities Mission and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru. IUDX serves as a seamless interface for data providers and data users, including ULBs, to share, request, and access datasets related to cities, urban governance, and urban service delivery. 

  • IUDX is an open-source software platform that facilitates the secure, authenticated, and managed exchange of data amongst various data platforms, 3rd party authenticated and authorized applications, and other sources. As the number of cities on IUDX expands, this will scale up to uniform and seamless sharing between data producers and data consumers across urban India.
  • IUDX is designed to address the problem of data silos, both within and across cities. Cities generate large volumes of data, which are recorded by a wide range of entities, both within government and across the industry, academia, and civil society. The combination of these datasets can enable rapid innovation, as well as a better understanding of and planning for urban needs and challenges. 
  • IUDX creates a secure and reliable channel for data producers or owners to share their data, with complete control over what is shared and with whom, in order to enable sharing while addressing security and privacy protections by design.
  • IUDX is a developer-friendly platform, with open APIs as well as data schema templates (i.e. formats for organizing and interpreting data) being defined, which will create an entirely new application ecosystem. This ecosystem can identify needs from urban data, develop and test solutions, and integrate these solutions with existing systems via open APIs, speeding up the entire process of discovery, solutioning, and rollout.
  • The pilot version of the platform was deployed in Bengaluru and Pune, and the production version of the platform has since gone live in Pune, Surat, and Varanasi. The learnings from these three cities are being shared with the next wave of cities to adopt the platform, which includes Agartala, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Panaji, and Vadodara.
  • IUDX is inherently ecosystem-driven. It was conceived, developed, and operationalized through a unique collaboration between academia, industry, and government, with key role being played by IISc. This initiative also has the guidance and support of MEITY and NITI Aayog, who serve as members of the Board of Advisors of IUDX. As the platform rolls out, it will help tap into the power of data held across all urban stakeholders.
  • This will have a broad impact on cities, both quantifiable and qualitative. The value created by IUDX will be derived from the reduced cost of procurement, increased revenue, decreased cost of operations, improved city service delivery, creation of innovative solutions by startups and industry players, and leveraging data monetization going forward.
  • With more use cases, IUDX is expected to improve the urban data governance by unlocking the true potential of data as public, sharable, and non-exclusive good leading to the vision of Self-Reliant Urban India and vibrant Data-Smart Cities responsive to the ever-changing needs of citizens.

SmartCode Platform:

Perhaps the greatest asset for India today is its youth, and India’s cities and towns must be empowered to tap into the skills and inventiveness of young people, enabling them to contribute to creating the cities of the future. The SmartCode platform is one of the key platforms envisioned under NUDM and is a bold step in this direction. 

  • SmartCode is a platform that enables all ecosystem stakeholders to contribute to a repository of open-source code for various solutions and applications for urban governance. It is designed to address the challenges that ULBs face in the development and deployment of digital applications.
  • SmartCode aims to significantly reduce the time taken to address urban challenges, by enabling cities to take advantage of existing codes and customizing them to suit local needs, rather than having to develop new solutions from scratch. As a repository of open-source software, the source code available on the platform will be free to use without any licensing or subscription fees, thus limiting costs to those involved with customizing the code and developing a locally-relevant solution.
  • Rather than developing a new hosting system, SmartCode leverages MEITY's OpenForge platform to host the code. This makes all code on the platform inherently sharable and re-usable. It also encourages integration across multiple existing digital building blocks, such as GeM and Digilocker, whose code is also hosted on OpenForge today.
  • SmartCode will lower the barriers to entry and participation for entrepreneurs and developers, whether working in government, in the private sector or simply private enthusiasts and volunteers. By providing a foundation of open-source software and building blocks for such development, it will reduce the time taken to develop and deploy solutions, and it will encourage the creation of solutions that leverage common existing building blocks, microservices, and APIs.
  • Key initiatives such as Aarogya Setu have been developed through solution-focused partnerships between government, industry, and academia. This has been illustrated by the early adopters of the platform being Smart Cities Fellows, who have developed seven digital solutions, which have already been rolled out across the cities of Bhubaneshwar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Pune, Jaipur, and Visakhapatnam.

New Smart Cities Website ver. 2.0 and GMIS

In order to better connect with people on the Smart Cities Missions efforts and achievements, and to make it easier for ULBs and citizens to access resources related to their work, the Smart Cities Mission website has been redesigned to serve as a single stop for all Smart Cities initiatives. The Geospatial Management Information System (GMIS) is integrated with this website. 

  • The website creates a single-window hub for Smart Cities Mission. A portal that works as a gateway to all the platforms and initiatives launched under the Mission. 
  • The website, through a seamless and unified interface, aggregates all mission-related information/initiatives from the various platforms and shows automated mission updates catering to the needs of a public user.  The website has been developed to be used as a highly effective communication and outreach tool.
  • The website drives convergence, by fetching data & information from various platforms (Like Smart Cities Open Data Portal, GMIS, SmartNet, etc.) with automated updates through APIs, eventually covering the 5Ps: Planning, Projects, Processes, People, & Partnerships.
  • With GMIS, more than 5000 Smart Cities projects have been mapped, enabling one to know their geo-coordinates, physical & financial progress, and view recent photos for every ongoing and completed project. These photos have been uploaded by cities using a specially designed mobile app, and they have a tamper-proof watermark. This enhances the monitoring capabilities and transparency of all smart cities.

As the world moves into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, India’s cities must be at the forefront of this transformation. This requires genuinely inclusive and sustainable development in every city and town - not just the large metropolis, but the census towns and Nagar Panchayats as well. NUDM and the related digital initiatives will usher in a new, collaborative, and broad-based era of urban governance, where data and technology are leveraged to bring city governments, citizens, and industry closer together, in pursuit of the vision of a prosperous and self-reliant India.

An update on the Smart Cities Mission

Since its launch in 2015, the Smart Cities Mission has made significant strides in its efforts to ensure that the benefits of technology reach all citizens. Over the last year, the Mission has seen accelerated project implementation with Smart Cities focusing on grounding and completion of projects. Of the total committed investments of ₹2,05,018 crore as per approved Smart Cities Plans, as of 21.02.2021, Smart Cities under the Mission have tendered 5,445 projects worth ₹1,72,425 crore (84% of total), issued work orders to 4,687 projects worth ₹1,38,068 crore (67% of total) and completed 2,255 projects worth ₹36,652 crore (18% of total).

Further, 50+ smart cities have transformed their ICCCs into COVID-19 war rooms to enable collaboration with various government departments dealing with COVID response.   Integrated dashboards were developed in a number of smart cities to enable effective decision-making, monitoring of COVID hotspots and medical infrastructure, tracking the movement of goods and services,  and managing lockdown. 

 Other initiatives have reached beyond the 100 Smart Cities. Outcome and performance assessment frameworks to measure the quality of life and city performance were rolled out in 114 Cities via the Ease of Living Index and Municipal Performance Index.   Over 31 lakh citizens were engaged through the Citizen Perception Survey. 

 The Urban Learning and Internship Program (TULIP) aims to match opportunities in ULBs with the learning needs of fresh graduates. Over 280 ULBs have posted over 14,240 internships; so far, 932 students are undergoing internships, and 195 students have completed their internships.

 To further make cities sustainable and resilient, The ClimateSmart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF) was rolled out in 100 Smart Cities to help cities look at urban planning and governance from a climate change lens, with a second round of annual assessment currently underway.  A Climate Centre for Cities (C3) has been established in NIUA. A number of national challenges like India Cycles4Change Challenge, Streets for People Challenge, Nurturing Neighbourhoods challenge have been implemented as well. 

The Mission is also planning to launch new transformative initiatives such as EatSmart Challenge in association with FSSAI, in order to create a sustainable food ecosystem in cities. A Challenge called ‘Tech4Mobility’ is also planned to promote technology in enhancing public transportation. 

The mission has targeted to set up ICCCs in 100 Smart Cities by 2022. DataSmart Cities Strategy will be scaled up in 500 Cities by the end of the Mission. Open Data Platform / India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX) shall be enabled in 500 cities under the program. To enable cities self-assess their data readiness, the second iteration of the Data Maturity Assessment Framework, aligned with the DataSmart Cities Strategy is currently underway in Smart Cities.

The digital environment, created by these initiatives, with the open-source design of these platforms, built on a symbiotic relationship between the myriad stakeholders, will truly democratize innovation in cities. It is expected that these initiatives of the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs would boost the agenda of inclusive development for Aspirational India, as outlined in the Budget FY’21, and support the vision of Minimum Government, Maximum Governance for building the foundations of New India.