Building 100 Smart Cities in India: The Story So Far

It’s been more than nine months since the newly elected prime minister announced his ambitious plan of building 100 smart cities across India.

A cabinet decision is likely to be taken very soon for initiating the first phase of the Smart city project. Several industry experts have given various definitions for India’s smart city and in all of them; technology has been mentioned as the major enabler.

It is believed across the world that a city can only grow on a sustainable basis only if there are opportunities for economic development, entertainment, education, healthcare and many such services.

Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu has recently stressed on the role of public private partnership in building smart cities. He invited industries within and outside India to participate in the Smart city project.

“A city that enables easy mobility, work-ability and thereby more live-able is a Smart City,” says Naidu. He also added that, “quality institutional, physical, social and economic infrastructure is essentials of it.”

As the government realizes the need of International bodies and private sector for building smart infrastructure, Asian Development Bank also declared its commitment in supporting India’s 100 smart city projects.

While speaking in Delhi’s Sustainable Development Summit 2015, Takehiko Nakao, president, Asian Development Bank says, “ADB is also firmly committed to supporting India’s 100 smart cities initiative.”

“The use of technology and intelligent systems will improve urban services for the poor, including sanitation and affordable transportation,” Nakao added.

MoU with Spain

Earlier this month, Spain has also shown interest in transforming Delhi into a Smart city. Jaime Garcia-Legaz Ponce, Minister of State for Trade of Spain in a meeting with M Venkaiah Naidu has shown interest in transforming Delhi into a Smart city.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) will soon be signed between the two countries in this regard. Both the government will focus to evolve a master plan for transforming Delhi into a Smart city

MoU with USA

India has already signed three MoUs with the USA to develop three smart cities in the cities of Allahabad, Ajmer, and Visakhapatnam.

As per the agreement, the U.S will help the cities in project planning, infrastructure development, feasibility studies and capacity building.

Sighting this as an enormous opportunity, the US-based communications systems company Avaya is eager to implement its new Fabric Network Connect technology in India’s Smart city project.

The technology includes components such as surveillance, communications and sensors to enable Internet of Things (IoT) and has already been used in Bangalore International Airport.

The solution allows airport network to carry out simultaneous applications such as universal flight information system, airport operations software and SAP ERP system, critical voice service and common user self-service (CUSS).

Tie-up with Germany

Germany has also shown its willingness to partner India in developing three Smart cities across the country. A six-member joint committee has also been formed to design a plan and identify those cities in three months time.

This was decided at a meeting between Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and the German Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Barbara Hendricks.

Hendricks also said that the Government of Federal Republic of Germany was keen to be associated with India’s smart city project.

Identifying Smart City criteria

The government has framed the following criteria for transforming 100 Indian cities into smart city:

  • One satellite city of each of the cities with a population of 4 million people or more (9 cities)
  • All the cities in the population range of 1 – 4 million people (44 cities)
  • All State/Union Territories Capitals, even if they have a population of less than one million (17 cities)
  • Cities of tourist and religious importance (10 cities)
  • Cities in the 0.5 to 1.0 million population range ( 20 cities)
  • In Delhi, it is being proposed that Delhi Development Authority will develop a new smart city through the land pooling scheme as a demonstrative city and the New Delhi Municipal Corporation area may also be considered for demonstrating all the components of Smart Cities.

The Union government has already declared Rs 7,060 crore for setting up 100 smart cities by 2019 and plans to digitally connect 1.20 billion Indians.

This announcement has clearly conveyed the government’s message that funds won’t be a major issue for establishing smart infrastructure across the country.

India already has a strong presence of some of the global companies such as Microsoft, CISCO, IBM, Wipro and many others.  Most of these companies are already involved in various safe/smart city projects across the country and others are looking forward to participate in it.

Ankush Kumar
IFSEC Global India Correspondent
Dated: 12th March 2015

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