By Dr P. Sekhar
Chairman of Global Smart Cities Panel & Micro Tech Global Foundation
- Smart cities are a key tool for sustainable economic growth to achieve US$5 trillion economies;
- Harnessing the untapped potential of the nation through the concept of value and valuation of infrastructure growth;
- Setting up HUBs, Mini HUBs & Nano HUBs from the urban area to remote village area;
- Boost happiness and well – being of the nation.
Overview of Smart City
Globally urbanisation is an ongoing trend which needs a strategy design in the form of planned smart cities for a proper settlement of people for the sustainable economic growth of the nation. The social process whereby cities grow and societies become more urban in India is occurring at a breakneck pace. In 1901, only one in ten Indians lived in the city. By 2030, the estimates predict that more than 40% of Indians could already be living in megacities. And two of the ten largest cities in the world are Indian already today – Delhi and Mumbai. India has 40 cities with more than a million people, 396 cities with between 100,000 and 1 million people, and 2500 cities with between 10,000 and 100,000 people. The 100 smart city mission has started under five parameters — planning, technology, governance, services and finance, along with climate-sensitive action and ease of living sensitive action. The Indian Government’s plan to develop 100 cities is hamstrung by multiple challenges such as long term funding, lack of enough private participation and capacity building, and is and is far from achieving a target of US$5 trillion economies.
Secured Governance – A Novel Concept
For many of the Indian cities need to implement the smart city policy to translate into the desired outcomes such as more sustainable, more productive and better-governed cities – is debatable. “Secured Governance offers a strategy of “value and valuation of infrastructure growth” for the government to get all the infrastructure development with a negligible investment by the Government and ensures to achieve the target of US$5 trillion economies. Existing / traditional public funding sources have been inadequate and the private sector could actively bridge the gap by investing in infrastructure assets. It attempts to work towards close-knit growth in all sectors of the economy, without the usual financial constraints that hamper ongoing efforts. It will help enable all that the common man needs to feel secure ─ a safe home and hearth with progress around him, which is what one expects from good governance. Much of the investments for Smart city development will come from the Private sector wherein government and its agencies will act as facilitators. This will have a spiralling effect on Global Economy with defined regions being developed as “Smart Cities or HUBs” and multiple HUBs connecting each other creating a Techno-Economic Corridor. The Mini HUBs and Nano HUBs will be spread over Semi-Urban and village regions promoting Industrial development and adoption of modern amenities and technologies to generate additional employment in those areas with minimal rural-urban migration and pay a dividend to elite and investors from domestic and international.
The need for Satellite Cities
On the one hand, rapid urbanization is increasing an environmental load of cities. Cities are sources of environmental problems such as traffic congestion and smog. In another hand, cities have huge opportunities to act as hubs for the development of smart, sustainable solutions that can help meet human needs within minimal footprints while still improving quality of life. Every minute, 25-30 people are migrating to cities from rural areas in search of better livelihood and lifestyles. As more and more people moving toward metro cities could impact the city’s streets will be affected by traffic and noise & air pollution. The more population living in tiny spaces can cause psychological problems and health issues.
This led to the peripheries of the city expanding, bringing new cities in the vicinity of the core metro city region. Other metros, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, have a similar pattern. Satellite cities are self-sufficient communities outside of their larger metropolitan areas but have become interconnected due to the suburban expansion of the larger metropolis. However, satellite cities do not have their independent metropolitan government and they are very much physically integrated with the core city. They are designed to help a major city extend in all possible ways. Satellite cities could be completely standalone cities, developed outside metros. They are self-containing, independent cities, unlike a suburb or a subdivision.
Here we use the term smart city without a connotation of size or other characteristics. The smart city’s positive opportunities are social development and economic growth – an arena where knowledge, vision and transformational power can be activated for sustainable development. The following key stakeholders involved in city development: planners and other public sector officials, business and finance leaders, politicians, the media, schools, universities, and civil society groups. We believe that these stakeholders have significant responsibilities, as well as opportunities, to lay the groundwork for the transition to sustainable cities.
A city does not end at its boundaries. Its relations to the world around it – local, regional, and global – play a decisive role in sustainable urban development. A city’s basis for existence is in many ways dependent on its relations to the world around it. Today this involves not only urban-rural relations but an entire global system of production, commerce and consumption.
The local perspective is always important. Each city needs to build sustainable relations locally – focused on the municipality or the larger regional area. At the same time, the impact of a city’s consumption on sustainable development requires a global focus, underlining the city’s total claim on resources and environmental impact on the entire planet. The challenge for a city is to create sustainable relations with the world around it without shifting its consumption impacts to another place or level in the system.
Above all, citizens must play an active role in this transition. Broad-based participation and engagement are vital to the inclusive, innovative, positive and profound changes required to fulfil the transition.
The transition to sustainable development in the world’s cities demands huge investments. In the fast-growing cities of developing economies, basic infrastructure must be built sustainably. In the industrialized world, existing infrastructure needs to be updated with climate-smart and resource-efficient systems. To break the heavy dependence on fossil fuels, innovations and new technologies on a broad front are needed. Investing for sustainable development will entail managing significant commitments – but would also generate large profits. Cities need to establish long-term plans and offer tailored financing models. New constellations of cooperation are needed, along with a combination of public and private funds. Financial, social and institutional innovations are equally important, such as new ways to think, organize and cooperate in order to meet human needs in a smart and resource-efficient way. Approximately five times the world’s GDP will be invested in infrastructure in cities in the coming 30 years.
These investments must be made in sustainable solutions. The impact of smart cities on Indian Smart city influence area
The rise and development of smart cities is a global phenomenon and plans to roll out 109 smart cities and upgrade existing cities under the Smart Cities Mission, which will enable India to emerge as a global leader. It is estimated that investments of US$2 trillion (≈INR. 129.45 lakh crore, 1US$=INR. 64.73)from domestic and international investors are required a reasonable period to build Smart Cities in the country. The country is on the cusp of a digital transformation and it is our collective responsibility to make sure that this metamorphosis is a successful one.
Smart Cities could be engines of growth for the economy of every nation, including India. They could provide major economic, trade, and productivity benefits to all stakeholders. Rising national wealth does not necessarily make people happier or satisfied with their lot but life expectancy or intangible values like social support and generosity. Moreover Social Factors (such as education and family life), Health (mental and physical), economic variables (such as income and employment) andHappiness at Work. Smart city technologies have recently become an indispensable element in the latest modern city-planning designs and strategies, mainly because these technologies offer solutions to every dimension of today’s city life, particularly for people; the residents of the city. Only a few years ago, technology-based development plans pursued a top-down approach, where residents and their needs were not regarded as an immediate priority in how technology can create smart cities. However, today many smart cities across the globe stipulate people’s happiness in their development strategies, to the point where the goal of being a happy city is imperative to being smart.
When thinking of the term happiness, one can find several concurrent meanings. For many, happiness is correlated with being healthy, financially well off, and connected to family and friends. Also, happiness depends on daily variables ranging from stress-free mobility to trust in governance, as well as accessibility to a clean environment and general easy safe living.
A smart city is a promising approach to improve people’s wellbeing through making every dimension of their lives function seamlessly and efficiently; healthcare, the environment, mobility, infrastructure, connectivity, education, governance and living. Innovators and smart city leaders around the world have acknowledged the residents’ needs and placed data-driven technologies to maximise their happiness and wellbeing.
Public-Private Participation (PPP)
The method of execution envisaged is essential of the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) model, where concessionaires bid for a project, with the incentive being concurrent areas offered to them for development and commercial use. These will give returns in four to five years which will meet their investment cost. It is better than waiting for 20 years collecting toll to make good the loans taken for a project. While the concessionaire utilizes valuation in a pattern that is part of a larger plan for the area, he also shares this with more and adds more value to the whole system. It will be a win-win situation. The SG approach requires the Government to participate as a facilitator and nothing more. The first step is to recognize the merits of a multi-sector approach to infrastructure and conceive projects which may be predominantly one sector but carry with them smaller packages of other sectors. Implied in this is the ability to take decision across ministries and give clearances at one point. The method of implementation will also be peculiar to each project, the place and the local conditions. Single window clearances would, therefore, have to be the norm, supported by empowered teams that can help conceptualize and clear a project in the SG mould. Once this is done, the execution may be decentralized to specific states or regions. Help from the government will only be required for mid-course corrections where inescapable. The requirement is to move from small to big, from project to project. Each will be unique in itself depending on what the ground and the situation dictates. The method of both valuation and value addition needs expertise and imagination for holistic development in the country through Secured Governance.
PPPs are essential “development sharing partnerships and minimise risk” between governments and the private sector on financing, designing, constructing and operating public infrastructure and public services. Infrastructure projects are inherently complex and unpredictable, and, under PPP arrangements, governments opt to transfer specific tasks and the risks associated with them to private enterprises that might be better able to execute and mitigate them.
It is the good fortune that in India we have a renewed interest and massive governmental support for developing greenfield smart cities and Brownfield smart cities. Several ministries like theMinistry of Urban Development, Ministry of Transportation, Telecommunications, Power, Education, Healthcare etc., have come to realize the potential of modern technology elements that will make smart cities prospect.
The need of the hour is to make these siloed departments to start work together in sharing data that will make each other smart and also in creating coordinating cell across all ministries that will oversee this coordinated effort. Also, the need of the hour is to understand the value of linked information and finding patterns within these links to make our cities smart. Sustainable smartness is possible only when we create physical and logical links between things that were not previously linked. New telecommunications technologies, sensor technologies, and ubiquitous availability of internet mobile applications will transform the way we consume all the information from our ecosystem.
These concepts are not limited to cities alone. They have the potential to reinvigorate rural economies and make them more habitable and economically viable. Apart from impacting the economy, this will bring in transparency in government and will also improve the velocity of businesses; improve the quality of life for ordinary citizens—even if they are not in the digital environment.
The imperative of rapid scaling up of the infrastructure capacity – in the Government and private sector (developers, contractors, consultants, financial intermediaries and investors) – entails developing and implementing projects of the required scale and within the tight time frames envisaged. The recent initiatives of “100 smart cities” on the part of the Government have begun to turnaround the project as far as the private participation is concerned through project execution and planning new investments.
Lastly, to implement an ambitious roadmap for this project, improved standards of secured governance and concerted action would be required to take these targets and goals from inspirational statements to actual development. We need a system to integrate economic interdependence in today’s modern societies which not only decreases uncertainty regarding where risks begin and end but also help in judicious planning and development of new empowered, transparent and interdependent Governance systems with a higher degree of social participation in nation-building Process. Secured Governance is an ideal choice which equips to create adequate and coordinated measures to ensure the provision of financial, human, technical, information and other capacity-building resources.