India’s Bold, Visionary Smart City Initiative

By: | January 8th, 2015

Amsterdam claims to be the EU’s first smart city, having identified five themes that make a city smart: CO2 awareness, dwelling refurbishment, shared working spaces, sustainable transport and open data. But Amsterdam has just 800,000 people, so its task is relatively easy compared to a huge country like India. Currently, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, is searching for parameters to use in converting one Indian city the size of Chicago into a smart city each year.

Currently, one-half of India’s population of 1.25 billion people are not even on the electric grid and one-quarter of its people are illiterate. But it is for exactly these reasons Modi wants to create smart cities: if he builds them, people will come and begin living better lives based on education, smart technology and a culturally rich urban environment.

100 Smart Cities: Improving Indian Opportunity & Quality of Life

Modi’s Smart Cities Initiative will proceed with test pilots where principles derived from successful modern cities across the globe will be planned into Indian cities.

The first cities on the drawing board are Delhi and Bangalore which planners hope to transform by 2025. The overall intent is to strike a balance between a good quality of life and a vibrant economy. The first goal of the initiative is to vastly improve the governance of cities as corruption and incompetence will only lead to failure and a waste of limited resources. Modi is appealing to all Indians in positions of influence to put the future of the country before their private interests, which is asking a lot from any constituency.

One of the key focuses will be adapting and changing the current public transportation system to serve citizens better. Another is setting up a more efficient energy infrastructure to serve citizens and businesses. A further key element is having a bottom-up, rather than a top-down approach, that is, getting citizens with “civic sense” involved in creating more livable, efficient and smarter cities.

Building Hubs of Economic Activity

The proposed transformation of India is a huge opportunity for companies like Intel, which will be involved in the creation and buildout of an information infrastructure that can support Modi’s vision. Another major multinational, telecommunications giant, Erickson, will be lending its expertise and technology to create wireless and land line digial communication networks. Greasing the gears of government with modern technology and the internet, according to Modi, is the way to transform India quickly.

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David Russell Schilling

David enjoys writing about high technology and its potential to make life better for all who inhabit planet earth.

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