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India’s Smart Cities vision – just how smart is it?

Here at Clearview Traffic,we’ve been keeping a close eye on the smart cities model adoption in the developing world in recent months – in particular, the current situation with the smart city concept being developed across India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for setting up 100 smart cities has attracted a huge amount of press interest in recent months, and on the face of it seems massively ambitious.

When you look at the budget and consider the enormity of planning and delivering this many projects across a mixture of existing and new cities, then financially it’s clearly one of the biggest and most ambitious programmes put forward by any one country: but just how smart will these cities be?

April 9th

Recent statements about Delhi’s plans for example might not be seen as particularly SMART.

Environmentally friendly? Yes. Admirable? Definitely. But not really mind-blowing or earth-shattering in terms of vision.

However, as NDMC Chairperson Jalaj Srivastava recently outlined in his budget speech-‘A smart city cannot have only a few hours of water supply a day, or electricity outages, or streets and public places littered with garbage’.

So actually, installing more efficient LED lighting, introducing recycling centres, adding solar panels on schools, and office roof-tops will clearly cut costs and reduce environmental pollution and greater wireless telecommunications infrastructure are necessary building blocks upon which they can build for years and even decades to come.

It's a great example of focusing on the priorities right now – and for Delhi, that’s the core infrastructural challenges within the city. We’d argue that this is very smart!

Clearly, there is more to be done in the future, but they have been realistic about what can be achieved in any one period.

For example, if they didn’t invest in the wireless telecommunications infrastructure now, it would hold back any future plans to deploy other smarter infrastructure, such as traffic or environmental monitoring sensors, and that would significantly affect any attempt to tackle the sizeable obstacles to intelligent mobility that they could possibly face in the medium and long term.

Reducing congestion, making the roads safer and greener for all, whilst at the same time encouraging active transport is no small feat – and this is just one aspect of the smart cities spectrum.

And while the ambition is there, there is still no absolute definition of what the smart city will look like.

The government are already finding some practical hurdles to overcome such as the governance, funding and management of these large scale projects, as well as typical concerns about corruption, and not least ensuring that – in the end – these cities actually deliver tangible benefits to the citizens.

If you would like to hear more about our approach to intelligent mobility and how it can help transform your road network to supporting your smart city vision, please contact us here.

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