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Meet the Smart City Enablers!

Smart-Cities-IndiaA report from ResearchAndMarkets.com predicted the global smart cities market to reach USD 670,424.1 Million by the year 2030. The market is expected to register a CAGR of 20.5% during the forecast period. The report is talking about the global situation, but if we talk about the Indian market, so situation is not showcasing any positive impact of smart India mission. Since, the launch of five years, hundreds of projects under the Smart City Mission have not been completed. Only 1,119 of the 1,794 projects (63%) in the first phase of the mission are completed.

Moreover, only Rs 18,408 crore have been spent of the total estimated budget of Rs 57,124 crore. The agenda of this project is to accomplish it within a span of five years. While emphasizing on the same, Nitisha from BISinfotech interacts with Vasantha Subbiah, Vice President- Communications, FluxGen Engineering Technologies; Rajeev Sharma, Chief Strategy Officer, Mitsubishi Electric India Pvt. Ltd and Sanjay Sudhakaran, Vice President- Power Systems, Schneider Electric India.

Challenges

There are some major challenges that India is facing while moving ahead in making smart cities which include informal growth in semi-urban areas, air-pollution, escalating water crisis, extension of slums, and mismanagement of solid waste, says Rajeev. As more and more people are migrating towards urban areas, these cities are getting overcrowded. The growth of social infrastructure and civic amenities are not being able to catch-up with the pace of people migrating to these limited cities.

There is a need for better sanitation, transport, electricity supply, affordable housing, digitization & IT connectivity,
sustainable environment for the cities to become sustainable The challenge will be to supply these populations with basic resources like waste management, water management, sustainable public commute, and housing with affordable connectivity to city centers etc, he added.

According to him the major challenge in smart city in India is migration of people to cities which has a long-term solution of providing jobs across the country and not in some clusters only and development of those cities as smart-cities which the government is already working on. Indore and Jamshedpur are very good examples of this good mix.

Sanjay finds, the major challenges in making smart city in India include Institutional and structural issues with the special purpose vehicles (SPVs), roadblocks in funding, lack of skilled manpower, resistance from the citizens, shortage of town planners, etc. Hence, there is a need for a transparent platform where demand and supply aspects can be looked at by the government and the citizens.

On the other hand, Vasantha believes India is a melting pot of cultures and ways of living. Every city has its style of city dynamics, resident behavioral practices, geographical structures & infrastructure constructions. Adding to all this is the Impact of COVID 19 Pandemic, Aging Infrastructure, Widening gap between freshwater availability & increasing demand from industries & residential facilities, Operational cost & Asset Maintenance, Captial Funding issues, etc. Smart Cities’ phase-wise planning framework is a gradual process of technological interventions encompassing sustainability, social inclusiveness, and limited resource management.

Smart City ProjectGovernment Initiation

SPVs have to be created on a smaller scale and more bite-sized projects should be launched to offer targeted solutions in a small time frame. Further, government needs to launch special skilling initiatives to develop a pool of skilled manpower who know how urban governance is used from the economic,financial, administrative and technological perspective, highlights Sanjay.

Smart Cities start with local area development with a prime focus on Retrofitting, Redevelopment, and Greenfield projects. According to Census 2011, Indian Cities accommodate nearly 31% of India’s Current Population, contributing to 63% of GDP. The expected projection by 2030 is that Indian Urban Areas would house 40% of India’s population and contribute 75% to India’s GDP. Thus, revamping the aging infrastructures to match the population requirements is an urgent need. Along with this, the proven model of Public-Private Partnership (PPP)
will bring in investments for Greenfield projects.

At the start of this year, Central Ground Water Authorities (CGWA), released a compliant notification that – ‘Any
groundwater withdrawal without the installation of tamper-proof digital water flowmeters & telemetry (wherever applicable) shall be construed as illegal’. AquaGen is FluxGen’s Intelligent Water Consumption monitoring and Borewell Level Monitoring suite. After the release of this notification, AquaGen has seen wide-scale installation PAN India. Real-time data is provided by data analytics and benchmarking on an interactive web & mobile application. AquaGen can definitely be a crucial component in managing the water resource in Smart Cities, Vasantha explains.

The Indian government is working quiet progressively for smart city in India but there are certain challenges that they have to deal with and as soon as the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) was launched in 2015, many areas saw drastic upliftment while some of the cities still have a lot to achieve to reach the desired levels of transformation, says Rajeev.

If we talk about the statistics of the smart city in India project, the first round of the competition in January 2016, 20 cities were chosen, which was followed by another 13 in a fast-track round in May 2016. In September 2016, during the second round, 27 more cities were selected; in the third, in June 2017, another 30; in the fourth in January 2018, another nine. The government has itself planned that Smart Cities Mission will improve the infrastructure and services (i.e. housing, water supply, sanitation, electricity supply, health, education, mobility, safety and security, IT connectivity and digitalization), while maintaining a clean and sustainable environment, and
strengthening urban governance. The development and application of ‘smart’ solutions to overcome various urban problems is the key point that distinguishes the mission from previous urban-reform initiatives, he added.

With an agenda to transform India, Indian government has initiated the Smart City Mission. The aim of the mission was to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life of people by enabling local development and harnessing technology, especially technology that leads to smart outcomes. Due to Covid-19 pandemic country has faced major loss and smart city mission also faced the same loss.

Indian Smart CitiesThe government had selected 20 cities to be developed into smart cities in January 2016 — Bhubaneswar, Pune, Jaipur, Surat, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Jabalpur (MP), Visakhapatnam, Sholapur, Davangere (Karnataka), Indore, New Delhi Municipal Corporation, Coimbatore, Kakinada (Andhra), Belagavi (Karnataka), Udaipur, Guwahati, Chennai, Ludhiana and Bhopal.

Adoption of Smart Cities

The adoption of Smart Cities is growing in India where different fields of the urban segment are getting digitized, starting from tracking public transport mobility through apps to digitizing the judicial records. With technological advancements, the citizens will be able to live a hassle-free life, without much cost escalation. The lifestyle change is expected to be subtle, not radical. This gradual transition will take everyone along the course and build an empowered society. With the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, the prime focus shifting on health care needs, the smart cities initiative has seen slow growth. However, such initiatives will act as primary growth drivers of
the economy in the upcoming years, shares Vasantha.

Rajeev elaborates the whole plan of smart cities adoption. He says, Smart city technology can make customer’s lifestyle more effective and efficient, which is necessary given the projected rapid growth in urban populations over the next few decades. Here are some important benefits that can impact customer’s lifestyle:

  • More effective, data-driven decision-making – Effective big data applications and strategies provide a city with information to identify and staff police in high-risk areas, for example, forecast and plan for expansion in citywide population growth and identify trends in citizen interests, concerns, and needs.
  • Enhanced citizen and government engagement – Expanding digital services in communities make smart cities a more attractive place for residents to live and promote a connected citizen experience.
  • Safer communities – Many cities have already started investing in smart technologies to help promote a safer
    community. A smart city is a safer city. Leveraging technology advances and pursuing private/public partnerships help reduce criminal activity.
  • Reduced environmental footprint – With the rise of greenhouse gases, debris in our oceans, and trash in our streets, smart cities are fighting back to reduce negative effects on the environment.
  • Improved transportation – Smart city transportation investments are expected to rise over 25 percent annually over the next five years. Connected transportation systems have some of the greatest potential to drastically enhance efficiencies throughout a city.

The adoption of smart cities is growing as per the SCM launched in 2015 and its progress so yes it is growing but also we cannot deny the fact that there are still a lot of major challenges that we need to work on and we need continuous support from the local authorities and we hope everything will come out positive.

Although the primary goal of the smart city is to empower and sustain services like transportation, energy, water and waste, it also has a huge impact on a customer’s lifestyle. Smart cities are a catalyst for better citizen health as they can provide insights on the demographic groups with elevated health profiles and target them precisely. They also provide data on the spread of infectious-disease helping citizens to stay a step ahead on fast moving epidemics. Smart cities have air-quality sensors address pollution and also identify the sources and provide the solution for further action. Sharing real-time air quality data with the citizens will enable them to take protective measures, thereby making them more conscious towards the environment. Furthermore, smart cities will lead to job creation thanks to the accelerated wave of automation. This will improve the standard of living and make local labour markets more efficient, elaborates Sanjay.

Expected Trends in 2022

Technological Interventions in the water, energy, health, mobility & public transport, sanitation, safety domains will see an increase in demand in the coming years. For instance, in the case of Digitization of water and energy networks, installing smart meters will help to track their consumption parameters in real-time. Also, water balance charts will help to assess the water requirement per facility and ensure it maintains its benchmark requirements. This will enable the Sustainability index measurement of smart cities, says Vasantha.

She also said, smart cities market will also see great potential in urban transportation development of metro, rapid rails, buses, electric vehicles, etc. Production of various metro components like telecommunication, signaling, electrical and mechanical systems will also drive investment. Digital health infrastructure along with good governance will enable the Livability index of Smart cities.

Smart CitiesPromotion of Data Centers, Building Smart Traffic Management systems, Sustaining the various components of Smart cities from a central control room will provide opportunities for employment in urban areas. This enables the Economic-ability of cities. All of the mentioned markets – Urban Transportation, Health Infrastructure require more water as it’s an essential prerequisite. People are becoming more and more accountable to judicious water usage. We at FluxGen, De-risk Industries and Commercial facilities from water resource management
related risks. We believe that ‘What gets Measured, Gets Managed’. Smart digital water metering infrastructures will also have a big market in 2022, shares Vasantha.

Rajeev shares the major trends which are expected to shape the smart cities market by 2022:

  • Transportation Congestion Sensors: Smart Transportation systems utilize IoT sensors in the detection of congestion and bottlenecks on traffic patterns. These sensors are dependent on cameras to implement speed and traffic infractions. They are useful in gathering the constant data which can be utilized to make portable networks secure and efficient. Transportation systems have thus become a fundamental base.
  • Parking Sensor Apps: Parking sensor apps are mainly utilized for the effective coordination with smart parking meters to inform drivers about parking availability. Smart parking development— an IoT-based system sends data regarding free and occupied parking places via online or mobile applications. Similarly, the app also provides information on previous parking receipts and sessions.
  • Lighting Sensors: Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology has helped in the development of Modern smart lighting systems. These lightening systems have evolved thereby to be compatible with the IoT environment. When there is a need to change the bulbs, the LED lights automatically send a notification to the Department of Public Works. These LED lights are made so that they are adaptive to weather and communications.
  • Waste Management Sensors: IoT based sensors help in the detection of the amount of garbage around the city prominently. On informing about the undisposed garbage, the sanitation workers can thus locate it and clean it. For cities looking to take care of sustainable, connected growth, the IoT sensors provide a far better option.
  • Water and Wastewater Monitoring: IoT in water treatment has been installed at various places in the water system.These systems have sensors that help in gathering the data from several places which can keep a track of the quality and temperature of the water. If there is a presence of leak detection, then the engineer on-site is notified immediately. Moreover, IoT in waste management can also help in the detection of residual chemicals after treatment. The detection of chemicals will help in tracking the release of chemicals to stay within permissible limits.

In the coming years, data science and analytics will form the backbone for the growth of smart city in India. Also, artificial intelligence and machine learning will propel transformation in the sector as it will enable smoother operations and provide accurate and error free results. Similarly, interoperability of systems will play an important role in enabling data unification and homogeneity.

Furthermore, the arrival of 5g technology will be a game changer for the sector. Due to its numerous characteristics like improved security, faster connectivity and processing speed, it will tend to have a major impact on Smart City in India. It is with the deployment of 5g that one will be able to see the true vision of connected smart cities in the country, concludes Sanjay.

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Nitisha Dubey

I am a Journalist with a post graduate degree in Journalism & Mass Communication. I love reading non-fiction books, exploring different destinations and varieties of cuisines. Biographies and historical movies are few favourites.

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