The real test for Smart City ventures will be the supply of fundamental assets such as clean water, adequate vitality, and general monetary, natural and social maintainability, says Isha Bhatnagar.
The concept of Smart Cities has been rapidly rising, mainly due to the Internet, in the last two decades. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have been widely used in government, businesses, and private societies, etc. In a simplified interpretation, a Smart City is proposed to be a city which is smarter than traditional ones and capitalises on technology which aims to transform and enhance its systems, service delivery and operations.
The key to the Smart City mission is the use of ICT in different parts of the city to connect and coordinate the systems and services of the city for better and more efficient utilisation of resources. This will help enhance city management and administration and additionally improve satisfaction of its residents. It is also hoped that a Smart City would also improve the ecological footprint, in support of achieving a low carbon economy.
A Smart City also covers almost every aspect of society and people's livelihood, including management of underground pipelines, citizen security, modern construction, monitoring of public places, municipal facilities, energy management, public transport, parking monitoring, etc.
The Smart City concept is primarily focused on improvement of environment, governance and social development. A Smart City emerges mainly due to the interaction between competition and sustainable urban development. A Smart City framework is based on priority areas which are specific to a city's context and can focus on one or more priority areas such as political, economic, technology and environment.
A Smart City is not a city that addresses open issues by means of ICT-construct arrangements in light of the premise of a multi-partner, municipally based association. The real test for Smart City ventures will be the supply of fundamental assets such as sterile and nutritious nourishment, clean water, adequate vitality, and general monetary, along with natural and social maintainability. Furthermore, a Smart City requires coordinated effort of various associations with a specific end goal to address the need of innovation.
So the pertinent question is, what's our priority? Creating a Smart City with the use of ICT is not a major deal, but we need a city that is much more than just smart. Progressive nations need cities which are eco-friendly and improve the livability for their residents. An eco-city should create and maintain a sustainable balance with nature, devoted to limiting the waste yield of harmful gases such as carbon dioxide and methane that cause air and water contamination.
The main reason to focus on eco-cities is simply because such a development will allow an adaptable way to deal with new advances and provide a better approach for urban living.
It is not an end in itself.
In the last few decades, the concept of smart and modern cities has resulted in creating an infrastructure that provides mass transit railway networks, high-rise residential and commercial complexes of glass and steel, underground fibre optic cable networks, free Wi-Fi zones, etc. However, many residents of these cities have now come to recognise the futility of such projects. Many of these cities have not provided the necessary environment to make the lives of its residents pleasurable and satisfying. There are many modern cities that have completely ignored the importance of pedestrian walkways, separate tracks for cyclists, open public spaces, recreational parks and an overall improvement in the quality of air, water and traffic congestion.
The need for urban city infrastructure is not up for debate. However, the development of urban cities need not take into account just the physical infrastructure that surely needs to be efficient and utilise technology. While doing so, the primary focus of a Smart City should be improvement in the quality of life of its citizens. Therefore, objectives such as decongesting the streets from automobiles, making it convenient for its people to walk to their workplaces and other public places, will prove to be a better end result. After all, it is in urban cities that we have observed growing cases of hypertension, diabetes and other lifestyle-related diseases.
Policymakers should, therefore, take into consideration the real requirements of an urban resident. They need to keep lives of the residents of a Smart City at the centre of city planning rather than make a spectacular display of technology under the name of urban development by building numerous Smart Cities.
Case Study 1:
Pearl District, Portland
Only 20 years ago, the Pearl was run-down and dilapidated. Today, it is an archetype of urban renaissance. Its exemplar mix of architectural styles originated from active historical preservation coupled with new, innovative, and sustainable building designs.
The highly dense, compact and diverse mix of restaurants, galleries, shops and parks are coupled with residential and commercial spaces, making a vibrant urban space.
The Pearl is one of the most successful urban redevelopment projects in the industrialised world. It boasts numerous modes of transit, eco-roofs, urban parks and green buildings, all densely packed into an area of about 245 acres.
Case Study 2: China Gated Communities
Last year, the Chinese government decided to put an end to gated communities. In the same directive, it also recommended that future residential enclaves be opened to the public. Existing gated communities would also gradually have their once private streets integrated into the public road network. Not only would the move ease traffic congestion, it would also make better use of land.
Opening up gated communities will help cities prosper with the number of people in areas increasing and small businesses like restaurants and convenience stores thriving.
This article has been authored by Isha Bhatnagar, a young smart cities enthusiast who has analysed 100 smart cities.