Smart cities the changing face of urban landscape
Urban centers in India are reeling under the combined pressure of population explosion, environmental pollution and depleting resources. It is a costly and challenging process to remodel existing cities. Which is why, ever since the government announced its plan to create 100 new smart cities[i] in India, there has been a lot of buzz around what these smart cities will be like and what problems will they solve.
- Congested living spaces, unplanned and thriving illegal colonies.
- Mismanagement of essential services like electricity and water[iii].
- Chaotic traffic and long travelling hours.
- High cost of living as opposed to lower quality of life.
- Poor social security, increasing cases of petty thefts as well as serious violence
- Prone to environmental shocks. Not enough earthquake proof buildings or flood protection
- High industrial pollution due to factories and residential areas mixed together
- Poor waste management leads to dangerously polluted water bodies like Yamuna in NCR
Now let us take a look at how a smart city solve the problems of an existing metro city[iv]
A smart city makes use of information and communication technology[vi] to build strong infrastructure that can respond promptly to changing circumstances. It also uses technology to build communication between the city governance and its citizens through e-participation.
- Independent and self-sustaining city with schools, hospitals, offices, shopping complexes and other public places.
- Decongested community living in planned societies that have ample open spaces for walking. No illegal/unauthorized construction clogging residential lands.
- Computerized control of water, LPG and electricity distribution 24×7 ensuring zero wastage or black marketing.
- Rapid Transit System through future-proof public transportation like high speed metros, smart buses, regularized taxi system and wider roads making commuting convenient.
- Computerized and centralized traffic management, traffic lights control and real time traffic information update online which commuters can conveniently check real-time to avoid high traffic routes.
- Pollution free environment due to proper arrangements for pollution control for healthy living.
- Safeguard against earthquake, floods and other natural calamities
- High security through use of technology in security services, public awareness, regular residents’ background verification ensuring safety of women and children.
- Proper facilities of waste management and recycling. No dumping of wastage in nearby water bodies.
- Adequate sports facilities for public health opportunities
Case StudyImplementation of Smart City Concept in Bhiwadi (Rajasthan)[vii]
An integrated industrial township is being developed in Bhiwadi. Let us examine the factors in favor of Bhiwadi as an upcoming smart city.
- Connectivity – Mass connectivity through NH8, high-speed metro, rapid transit railway and proposed civil airport to NCR and other parts of the country.
- Infrastructure – Wide internal roads and planned infrastructure has been given high priority. Housing projects as well as commercial complexes are being developed sequentially. Schools and hospitals have been constructed close to residential areas.
- Industries – Several industrial areas are coming up around Bhiwadi. Mahindra & Mahindra has acquired land, Saint Gobain plant is coming up, and Amtek Industries has entered into a JV with Riken Corporation.
- Housing – Modern living spaces in the form of well maintained apartment complexes with 24*7 electricity, water supply and other utility services.
- Entertainment – Multiple Shopping complexes, clubs, and malls located within easy distance.
Bhiwadi as a Smart City is a clean slate as of now. This is what makes it is better choice than say Gurgaon or Faridabad where a lot of haphazard urbanization has already happened. Bhiwadi region has been identified as an economical hot zone because of its location on the NH8 which connects Delhi to Mumbai and many urban centers in between. Planned urbanization of the area with special impetus on technology in integrating various services has created a healthy living space with minimal environmental impact.