A “Smart City” is a developed urban area that creates sustainable economic development and high quality of life by excelling in multiple key areas; economy, mobility, environment, people, living and government through strong human capital, social capital, and ICT infrastructure.
With an urban population set to rise by more than 400 million people to 814 million by 2050, India faces the kind of mass urbanisation only seen before in China, and many of its biggest cities are already bursting at the seams. In line with the Government‟s vision of 100 Smart Cities across the country few areas and corridors have been identified to build new smart cities and transform and develop old towns into smart ones. Rs 7,060 cr (USD1.2 billion) has been allocated for the project in the budget of 2014-15 budgets. After its announcement in July 2014 experts and stakeholders from different sector have identified different issues and challenges, the 100 Smart Cities project is going to face ahead and also suggested some recommendations and solutions in various forums. These includes Land Acquisition, FDI, selection of cities, basic infrastructure with affordable living, fund, city specific planning and technology application, 24 x7 power and utilities etc. Now it is the high time for necessary policy reforms, area and city specific planning and their implementation in the four pillars – Institutional Infrastructure (including Governance), Physical Infrastructure, Social Infrastructure and Economic Infrastructure on which a city rests. The centre of attention for each of these pillars is the citizen.
Whether India builds new cities, or extends and develops existing ones, it needs a new city governance model that is “faster, better and cheaper”. Smart cities herald a new age where information technology, in addition to roads, buildings or bridges forms the core infrastructure. This digital infrastructure uses a network of sensors, cameras, wireless devices, data centres and powerful analytics to enable the government to provide more efficient services, maintain a low carbon footprint and create an entrepreneurial environment for its citizens.
The idea will succeed only if urban growth is reinvented by overturning outdated laws on rentals, land conversion, acquisition and city governance.