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Making Cities Smarter and Better Connected

- April 18, 2017 10:14 am

The pace of modernization throws up challenges that more often than not, clash with traditional approaches and mindsets. From safety and security of residents and infrastructure to the effective utilization of public utilities, a sensitive, calibrated approach is required for large-scale changes.

This is all the more true as India is the fastest urbanizing country in the world. Its urban population is expected to grow from 377 million in 2015 to over 600 million by 2031*, a CAGR of 2.1 percent which is more than double that of the other rapidly urbanizing country China.

While there is an economic dividend in a young, educated, upwardly mobile population the growing numbers of urban dwellers puts pressure on urban infrastructure. The Indian government’s move to convert 100 cities to “Smart Cities” is an opportunity to solve some of the problems in urban areas.

One way of building a smart city is to create a digital platform that serves as a springboard for multiple services. Like the Cisco Smart+Connected Digital Platform that provides multiple services to build a smarter city. Given the problems in Indian cities, a connected digital solution should handle issues like safety and security, waste and water management, ensure cities are well lit, and ease the problems of traffic congestion and parking.

For instance, at the heart of a growing city, must lie concern for its citizen’s safety. Untoward incidents can be reduced and prevented through a solution that combines sensors, video surveillance cameras, social media analytics and citizen reports. The solution could also analyze crime and incident trends to enable law enforcement authorities to respond faster to threats and incidents.

Waste and water management is a concern for almost all Indian cities. India produces 0.14(1) million tons of garbage every day, and only a part of this is collected, and treated. A waste management system can help keep track of the amount of garbage deposited in bins, and warn authorities when the bins are reaching their limit, so the garbage can be collected on time. IoT sensors can also track recycled items, and the rate of recycling in each city.

Similarly, when it comes to water management, India has a long way to go. Several large Indian cities receive only about 125(2) liters/day per capita when the actual requirement is of 210 liters. About 35% of water wastage happens because of leakage. Smart sensors can help in measuring and checking wastage, and enable even distribution to water-starved cities and towns.

Another aspect of a smart city is smart lighting. An intelligent solution will not only ensure a well-lit city; it could also delivery significant cost savings.  Smart sensors connected to lamp posts will enable monitoring of pollution, detect seismic activity and add Internet of Everything innovations to create solutions for transportation, utilities etc.

While surveillance cameras for security are certainly good to have, they can also solve a problem that’s painfully familiar to most urban Indians; our never-ending saga of finding parking spots! Close to 40 percent* of urban roads in India double up as parking spots, causing inconvenience to moving traffic. Not only does this further congest our already choked roads, it also leads to a host of other problems, including long commute times and increased air pollution. A smart parking solution that monitors parking spaces and informs motorists of its availability will go a long way in unclogging our roads. The solution leverages the city’s network of sensors and video cameras to inform drivers of empty parking slots. This saves commuting time, reduces pollution and traffic congestion and generates revenue.

India modernizing is as good a time as any for its cities to build innovative solutions that provide its citizens the quality of life they deserve.

 

*Source: http://www.thehindu.com/features/homes-and-gardens/indias-challenge-of-disordered-urbanisation/article8285145.ece

*http://www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/government/parking-problems-in-india-and-their-solutions

1 All India and metro figures

2 Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD)

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