First of all, there is no fixed definition of a Smart City. This implies that this concept will be perceived in different ways by different people. The factors that would influence the approach would comprise of factors like the policy of the country, the level of development, the extent of the willingness to accept the reform or the change, the available resources and above all the aspirations of the people and the representatives of the people. This further implies that the connotation of a ‘Smart City’ in India would be different from what it is in Europe or any other place.
Smart City Concept in India and New Innovations
The concept adopted by Smart Cities Mission, Government of India, comprises of the following features:
- Efficient use of land– This is being done by the promotion of mixed-use of property for developments that have been planned area-wise. The states would extend flexibility in land use and come up with bye-laws to accommodate the change.
- Expansion of housing opportunities for all.
- Creation of walkable localities. Reduce congestion, air pollution and depletion of resources.
- Preservation and development of open spaces.
- Promotion of a variety of transport options. The concept adopted in India is TOD (Transit Oriented Development) involving public transports and last-mile transport connectivity.
- It is making specified changes to the governance so that things are cost-effective as well as citizen-friendly. Increasing online services would achieve this to include accountability and transparency. There would be increased development of mobile applications to reduce the operating cost of the various services. This would also imply that citizens will not be required to go to government offices. It would also include the formation of e-groups to understand the concerns of ordinary people better. There would also be increased use of monitoring programs and related activities through cyber tours of worksites.
- Re-identification of cities based on the significant economic activities such as health, education, arts and crafts, sports, textile, dairy and many more.
- Extensive application of smart solutions in connection with the development of infrastructure along with other activities related to construction. For example, developing an area in a way so that it is less vulnerable to natural disasters, use of limited resources and providing economical services.
Who Is Responsible?
The Union Ministry for Urban Development of India is responsible for the implementation of this mission along with the active participation of the various state governments of the respective cities. For the success of this initiative, the concept of smart cities must be considered as an opportunity. In India, it has been observed that people move to cities for employment. Therefore, the cities can be developed as centres for the growth and development of people.
The Smart City program in India is a five-year program. Under this, every state and union territory (except West Bengal) have nominated at least one city for this mission. For each selected city, an SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) has been created to overlook and implement the smart city development progress.