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A smart city is an urban area that uses different types of electronic data collection sensors to supply information which is used to manage assets and resources efficiently. This includes data collected from citizens, devices, and assets that is processed and analyzed to monitor and manage traffic and transportation systems, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, information systems, schools, libraries, hospitals, and other community services.
The smart city concept integrates information and communication technology (ICT), and various physical devices connected to the network (the Internet of things or IoT) to optimize the efficiency of city operations and services and connect to citizens. Smart city technology allows city officials to interact directly with both community and city infrastructure and to monitor what is happening in the city and how the city is evolving.
Since the globalisation and liberalisation of the Indian economy in the '90s, Indian cities have seen accelerated economic and social growth, which has attracted more and more people from all parts of the country. As a result, urban India is now grappling with issues like overpopulation and strained infrastructure, which have affected the quality of life.
We believe the time has come for India to leverage the existing technological tools to develop new smart cities and transform existing ones, and unleash their true potential as centres of opportunity. Growth achieved by cities is linked to their ability to address issues related to urbanisation and associated social, environmental and economic issues in a holistic manner, while making the most of future opportunities. The smart city concept can be looked upon as a framework for implementing this vision of advanced and modern urbanisation.
Theoretically, any area of city management can be incorporated into a smart city initiative. A classic example is the smart parking meter that uses an app to help drivers find available parking spaces without prolonged circling of crowded city blocks. The smart meter also enables digital payment, so there's no risk of coming up short of coins for the meter.
Also in the transportation arena, smart traffic management is used to monitor and analyze traffic flows to optimize streetlights to prevent roadways from becoming too congested based on time of day or rush-hour schedules. Smart public transit is another facet of smart cities, used to ensure public transportation meets user demand. Smart transit companies are able to coordinate services and fulfill riders' needs in real time, improving efficiency and rider satisfaction. Ride-sharing and bike-sharing are also common services in a smart city.
Energy conservation and efficiency are major focuses of smart cities. Using smart sensors, smart streetlights dim when there aren't cars or pedestrians on the roadways. Smart grid technology can be used to improve operations, maintenance and planning, and to supply power on demand and monitor energy outages. Smart city initiatives also aim to monitor and address environmental concerns such as climate change and air pollution. Sanitation can also be improved with smart technology, be it using internet-connected trash cans and IoT-enabled fleet management systems for waste collection and removal, or using sensors to measure water parameters and guarantee the quality of drinking water at the front end of the system, with proper wastewater removal and drainage at the back end.
Smart buildings are also often part of a smart city project. Legacy infrastructure can be retrofitted and new buildings constructed with sensors to not only provide real-time space management and ensure public safety, but also to monitor the structural health of buildings. Attaching sensors to buildings and other structures can detect wear and tear and notify officials when repairs are needed. Citizens can help in this matter, notifying officials through a smart city app when repairs are needed in buildings and public infrastructure, such as potholes. Sensors can also be used to detect leaks in water mains and other pipe systems, helping reduce costs and improve efficiency of public workers.
Smart city technologies also bring efficiencies to urban manufacturing and urban farming, including job creation, energy efficiency, space management and fresher goods for consumers. Smart city technology is increasingly being used to improve public safety, from monitoring areas of high crime to improving emergency preparedness with sensors. For example, smart sensors can be critical components of an early warning system before droughts, floods, landslides or hurricanes.
Approach to the Smart Cities
Smart Cities focus on their most pressing needs and on the greatest opportunities to improve lives. They tap a range of approaches - digital and information technologies, urban planning best practices, public-private partnerships, and policy change - to make a difference. They always put people first. In the approach to the Smart Cities Mission, the objective is to promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of 'Smart' Solutions. The focus is on sustainable and inclusive development and the idea is to look at compact areas, create a replicable model which will act like a light house to other aspiring cities. The Smart Cities Mission is meant to set examples that can be replicated both within and outside the Smart City, catalysing the creation of similar Smart Cities in various regions and parts of the country.
The core infrastructure elements
• Adequate water supply,
• Assured electricity supply,
• Sanitation, including solid waste management,
• Efficient urban mobility and public transport,
• Affordable housing, especially for the poor,
• Robust IT connectivity and digitalization,
• Good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation,
• Sustainable environment,
• Safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly, and
• Health and education.