Smart Cities – A New Age Phenomenon

Posted by on July 21, 2015

‘Smart cities’ is an inevitable journey that has already begun in various pockets of the world while waiting for the other nations to accept and embrace it. It is the latest concept when it comes to building the cities of the future. So, what is a Smart city and do we really need it today?

The Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi quoted “A city which is two steps ahead of its citizen’s needs is a smart city”. Elaborating it would mean sustainable development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. A simple definition would describe it as a city that uses digital technologies or information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance quality and performance of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens. They benefit everybody, including citizens, businesses, the government and the environment.

Smart City-Mahagun

Three factors that necessitate the existence of smart cities include urbanization, economic growth and environmental challenges. As the global population continues to grow at a steady pace, more and more people are moving to cities every single day. There is accordingly a pressing need for the cities to get smarter to handle this large-scale urbanization and accommodate the influx. Besides this, cities are accordingly referred to as the engines of economic growth. They constitute the biggest contributor to a given country’s GDP. And last but not the least; increased urbanization creates an environmental pressure on the city-areas.

In an attempt to cope with the challenges and make these cities more livable, a three pronged urban reform drive was launched in India namely: The Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Smart cities mission and Housing for all (Urban). While AMRUT follows a project-based approach, the Smart Cities Mission follows an area-based strategy. 500 cities will be retrofitted under the AMRUT scheme and 100 smart cities will come up over the next five years. The projects will also receive Rs.98,000 Crore in central grants. Under the housing for all scheme, two crore houses will be constructed in urban areas in the next seven years.

Smart Cities in India-Mahagun

The projects will be intended to enhance the quality of urban life by providing a clean and sustainable environment with 24 hour water and power supply. Sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transportation, affordable housing for poor, and robust IT connectivity among others are essential features of the project. AMRUT will focus on ensuring basic infrastructure services such as water supply, sewerage, storm water drains, transport and development of green spaces and parks with special provision for meeting the needs of children.

There is no doubt that Smart Cities will give the real estate industry a major fillip and allow opportunities to grow. The success of such cities, however, depends on residents, entrepreneurs and visitors becoming actively involved in energy saving and implementation of new technologies. There are many ways to make residential, commercial and public spaces sustainable by ways of technology, but a high percentage of the total energy use is still in the hands of end users and their behavior.

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