The vision of smart cities in India is incredible and rational, but the smart city project needs to be designed wisely.
Smart Cities Council India, has been formed to promote development of smart cities, which will launch an India Readiness Guide to help urban planners understand the framework of a smart city and take steps to improve the city's infrastructure. Smart Cities Council India will propel Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 100 smart cities programme onto the global stage.
“We are an international consortium of academicians, solution providers, smart city practitioners bringing together a wealth of knowledge across case studies we have implemented over 7500 smart city practices across the world,” says Pratap Padode, Founder and Director, Smart Cities Council India.
The Council connects the solution providers to city leaders. For instance, if a city is having a problem with waste management, they connect them with a bunch of vendors who will provide them with solutions, according to their needs and priorities.
On the kind of IT infrastructure required for a meaningful city, Padode, says, “It should be open source and not proprietary protocol because it will destroy the contiguity of cities.”
He added that he has urged Nasscom to inform its members that when they are involved in IT related activities in regards to a city, they must bear in mind that open source would be a better source of delivery, so that cities do not become silos. At the same time, he has also recommended this solution to the ministry of urban development.
A centralized ‘Command and Control Centre’ could handle the surveillance systems in and around a smart city. Here, all the various municipal services would be integrated. “For example – for the Municipal head of Surat, crime, healthcare, transportation etc are integrated on a common dashboard,” says Padode.
The center can group locations and connect surveillance systems in order to respond quickly to any emergency. All these safety measures should be designed to maintain constancy.
There should be a protocol in a software where they can share codes and integrate them all together. Integration should be done seamlessly and not be held hostage by the solution provider by installing proprietary codes.
The smart city is an enthralling vision of the future but it comes with its problems too—its open data being more vulnerable to hackers. “Checks and balances should be in place to deter potential cyber-attacks,” he says.
IOT has become the latest buzzword in smart cities these days as it provides cities with huge amounts of data and is particularly attractive to decision making for various stakeholders.
The whole initial point of managing a smart city is gathering of data. “Data should be gathered by placing sensors all across the city, which are constantly sucking data and bringing it to one place for analysis,” says Padode.
In addition, Padode added that, with the concept of IOT, one can initiate course correction and offers greater intelligent decision making power, as one gets information from various devices.
Consider this: “Imagine if your trash bin not only collected garbage, but helped ease traffic and emissions. Sensors placed on trash bins send out an alert when they are full,” explains Padode. This reduces the number of times the trucks sent out by the municipalities, as they are sent out only when the trash bins need to be emptied, reducing unnecessary traffic congestion and emissions.
Smart energy, smart street lights, smart garbage cans, smart grids, intelligent building systems, renewable power plants – are they all pipe dreams in our country? Well, they are not, for they are very much in the pipeline. Kudos to the Smart Cities Council India!
(Pratap Padode is the Founder and Director of Smart Cities Council India. This article was published in CIO magazine)