Cities that have a perfect socioeconomic set-up with an integrated technological base have become the need of the hour owing to the rapid pace of urbanisation. As India looks to develop 100 smart cities, the big question remains if it will be able to create efficient, liveable and sustainable living centres and also smarten the existing cities.
Imagine a scenario where you drive off the highway and your navigation system guides you to a free parking place, reducing congestion and carbon emission and saving you from the parking woes. Sounds like a figment of your imagination or straight out of a movie script? That is beginning to come to reality in cities like San Francisco and Chicago. But getting these projects off the ground requires a multifaceted, coordinated effort, right regulatory framework and collaboration among a lot of industries to provide everything from the sensors in the street to the apps in your car or mobile device. Smart living in smart cities is becoming the need of the hour owing to the fast pace of urbanisation engulfing our cities.
Urbanisation is spurring the growth of our cities. According to a McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) study, it took India nearly 40 years (between 1971 and 2008) for the urban population to rise by nearly 230 million. It will take only half the time to add the next 250 million. And thats not all, as cities could generate 70 per cent of net new jobs created by 2030, produce around 70 per cent of Indian GDP, and drive a near fourfold increase in per capita incomes across the nation. The rapid pace of growth and employment is bound to draw the population to the cities, adding a lot of burden to the existing infrastructure. According to estimates by McKinsey & Co, India would need to invest up to $1 trillion by 2020 to build the cities of tomorrow and these investments are in multiple areas.
"For instance, to meet urban demand, the economy will have to build between 700 million and 900 million square metres of residential and commercial space a year and to support this, we would need to build 350 to 400 kilometres of metros and subways and between 19,000 and 25,000 kilometres of road lanes every year," says Angshik Chaudhuri - Chief of Staff, Smart+Connected Communities (S+CC), Cisco India. The scope of opportunity to create stronger, efficient and sustainable solutions to prepare and build sustainable and self-reliant urban centres is tremendous. The focus being given for the creation of 100 smart cities across the country that are efficient, liveable and sustainable is the only solution to this burgeoning urbanisation and which is what makes the creation of smart cities an imperative in the times to come. According to an MGI report, Indias urban population is projected to increase from 34 crore in 2008 to 59 crore in 2030. This surge in population growth can certainly put a great pressure on the existing cities and urban infrastructure. Going by the textbook definition of urbanisation, defined by cities with population more than 5 lakh, India has 93 such urban centres and almost a sixth of its population stay in these areas, thus making India one of the leading countries with the most number of urban centres. To this, Manish Sharma, Managing Director, Panasonic India says, "A bigger problem here is that these urban centres are more than 30 times densely populated which is a clear indicator of the massive challenges the country is up against."
Using technology as the mainstay, the concept of a smart city is influenced by the idea of developing the urban hubs to provide better amenities in terms of electricity, water supply, sanitation, recycling, proper traffic and transport management systems. Some of the smart cities to be developed in India are Dholera in Gujarat, Shendra in Maharashtra, Manesar in Haryana, Khushkera in Rajasthan, Ponneri in Tamil Nadu, Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Tumkur in Karnataka.
Smart cities are a global trend. Most advanced cities, national governments, international organisations and transnational corporations are increasingly viewing the smart city concept as the base of sustainable growth, and the best solution for the challenges of global urbanisation. Today India is talking about Intelligent Transportation, smart grids and Control & Command centres like those in Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona. India is keen on predictive policing and surveillance enabled safety corridors, were talking about Wi-Fi zones and Cities on the Cloud. Says Karuna Gopal, President, Foundation of Futuristic Cities, "A smart city is aspirational. It stems from the need to build a sustainable world. This wish-list needs connectivity that is ubiquitous, anytime, anyplace access to high-bandwidth. We need cloud computing as a service and smart devices primarily designed for accessing services from the cloud via a Wi-Fi or 3G network."
Gopal advocates policy initiatives including facilitating land acquisition with a good rehabilitation and reward program along with a policy to go for Transit Oriented Development, mixed land use for dense, compact cities, FSI & FAR revision for vertical development, special investment regions and exploring of innovative financing models for the development of the smart cities programme in India.
"This initiative of smart cities, analysed with the idea of building a Digital India will provide a major boost to the way India operates currently. By increasing high-speed Internet connectivity across the country, the government can aim at introducing digital classrooms, providing online delivery of services through integration of government departments and introducing online or e-visas," says Manish Sharma.
While a clarity in the policy initiative towards the creation of these smarter surroundings is still to concretise, the debate continues between the preference being given towards creation of newer cities or making the existing dwellings better and sustainable.
In an emerging city, one can bring together a common platform across domains and on top of it a common body or a set of bodies to keep the platform going and maintaining it. In an existing large city, it is difficult to set up everything together at the same time because it has established processes in place.
"The idea is to focus on a small number of areas and go deep into them. If you take the example of Mumbai, theres CCTV monitoring or storm water management, these are the issues that make the city smarter. So a large city requires more of a domain-based focus," says Rahul Sharma, Executive Director, Partner, GBS, IBM India/SA. A case in point: IBM has almost 2,500 engagements in smart cities across the world and the company has seen a big uptake in these concepts in the last 2-3 years in India and is engaged in providing smart solutions for the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation, Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board, Wave Inc and Palava City.An important focus area is to have embedded technology.
"All Tier-2, Tier-3 cities can be shaped into smart cities. Small cities have a greater potential as they are not unwieldy due to size or administrative complexities, or acquired heterogeneity. Therefore they can be easily brought under the scalpel. Given the simplified version, I think India will very soon see some modest versions of the same," says Gopal.
Chaudhuri adds that all cities offer an opportunity to be transformed into smart cities. "As against the popular belief, smart cities are not salubrious and sprawling cities, but rather regular urban habitations with an underlying ICT infrastructure. In terms of implementing smart city solutions for existing cities, some of our major projects such as Barcelona, London and Hamburg are all examples of retrofitting old metropolises and this is the case across most of the smart city projects across Europe and North America," he says. In London, Cisco is working with the Olympic Park Legacy Company to develop UKs first Smart+Connected Community.
Frost & Sullivan research estimates a global market potential of $1.5 trillion for smart cities across energy, transportation, healthcare, building, infrastructure, and governance. "Its hard to ascribe a value to the quantum of opportunity in the smart city space because there are so many different domains as both greenfield and brownfield cities have different solutions. But it is fairly given that it is a significant opportunity in India at the moment," says Rahul Sharma who adds that pure planning itself is the best context that describes a smart city. Technology is the base and the platform on which this concept can be built.
For some players like Schneider that offer technologies and solutions across all verticals of the smart city domain with more than 200 references across the globe, the Indian market does offer a lot of potential.
"Rs 10,000 crore in the next five years will be a conservative estimate of the total market size of smart cities in India," says Ravi Kant Malhan, Director-Head Business Development: Smart Cities and Special Projects, Schneider Electric India. He adds, "As the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor gets into the bidding stage, we will know the quantum of opportunity for Schneider."
Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu had recently said that the focus of this smart cities project should be to enhance quality of urban life through an integrated approach to urban planning and execution besides ensuring inclusiveness. The Urban Development Ministry is preparing a list of features that need to be incorporated for development of æ100 Smart Cities as announced in the Budget.
Anand Singh Bhal, Economic Adviser, Ministry of Urban Development, had said at a recent summit that discussions are on to make the policy for 100 smart cities, which will include the existing cities and new ones. He also reiterated that its not possible to make 100 new smart cities as it will take 20-30 years to build them. So, instead of building 100 new smart cities, a lot of emphasis will be on making a city smart.
Industry players have also expressed their concern about having a strong administrative influence along with strong stakeholders and partnerships for the success of the concept. "Through our interaction with various stakeholders involved we have observed that its very important to put together some working agency across multiple domains that is responsible for maintaining, monitoring and also keeping up to the evolving trends of the city. Especially in the context of greenfield cities there is a tremendous amount of opportunity that we have where we can leapfrog a generation where we are not shackled by existing technology constraints and silos in administration. The money allocated in the Budget can be used to create a template which can be further taken up by States. The people working in the government at the last mile, how to motivate them to utilise this concept is the challenge," says Rahul Sharma.
According to a recent report from IHS Technology, there will be at least 88 smart cities all over the world by 2025, up from 21 in 2013. Singapore is already a leading city in Asia in terms of sustainable practices, policies and projects and its smart innovations are being exported around the globe. The Singapore model includes smart concept for generating energy savings up to 30 per cent and reducing carbon emissions and smart energy grids for electricity demand and supply to interact intelligently. When city leaders in Singapore wanted to improve the experience of the 5 million people who moved across the city each day, IBM worked with the city to develop an integrated means of payment for transportation. People across Singapore could now use the same payment card across trains, buses, and other means of transport. This was designed to facilitate travel and make movement more efficient. Singapore has also shown keen interest in helping India develop smart cities. Steve Leonard, Executive Deputy Chairman, IDA says, "We have made great headway in just over a year from conceptualisation to real action in building Singapore as the worlds first Smart Nation. One of the first building blocks for this vision to become reality is the development of a Smart Nation Platform (SNP). SNP will serve as a foundation on which companies of all sizes, as well as government agencies can experiment and innovate with new ways to collect, move and interpret data in order to better serve citizens."
Not far away, the Japanese government and Panasonic have made pioneering efforts to create a sustainable, self-reliant and smart city - the Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town (SST). Located 50 km west of Tokyo in the coastal city of Fujisawa, the Fujisawa SST incorporates 1000 homes into a deeply integrated smart energy and smart grid system using Panasonics "entire solutions" technology portfolio aimed at reducing energy, producing solar electricity and using battery storage at each home thus reducing CO2 by 70 per cent from the 1990 baseline.
"The entire town has a single energy system. Communication systems linked to each household and each homes appliances manage the energy needs to balance the production and consumption, drawing on the battery systems to help with load management. The towns design allows it to run off the main grid during disasters, providing extra layers of security to the infrastructure. The development is aimed to be replicable throughout the world, using integrated energy technologies at large scales," says Manish Sharma.Back home, IBM has partnered with the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) in India to evolve a smart grid project. This helped create a cost-benefit analysis for smart grid activities as part of the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE). A BEE project, NMEEE is one of eight national missions that promote innovative policy and regulatory regimes, financing mechanisms, and business models that help sustain the market for energy efficiency. It helped BEE determine global smart grid potential and also create toolkits for regulators and utilities for assessing benefits of smart grid investment decisions.
Apart from the IT initiatives, India does have the existing smart initiatives like town planning schemes for urban expansion in Gujarat or building the Magarapatta city near Pune with rural-urban partnership. So while smart city growth with sustainable urbanism is the aim of the government, what is needed is policy clarity and comprehensive planning to bring the already existing thought and knowledge to better use. The success of implementing the smart city model will depend a lot on how the economic and social needs and benefits are united in an open and transparent manner as it is not merely smart grids, smart transportation or smart energy management that form a smart city but sustainability and livability as well.
Singapore is gearing up to be the worlds first Smart Nation, building on the achievements of the intelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015) masterplan. To support this, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) will be strengthening the hard and soft infrastructure holistically including developing the Smart Nation Platform (SNP) and initiatives that boost soft infrastructure, such as creating standards for Internet of Things @ Home and building of talent in new areas like Games Science. The SNP gives a strong boost to Singapores hard infrastructure.
Telvent (now Schneider Electric) offers 40 years of demonstrated expertise in developing, deploying, and supporting complex transportation management solutions in Europe, North and South America, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East û with intelligent transportation systems (ITS) successfully managing some of the worlds most complex and congested markets. Schneider Electric traffic solutions are helping to optimise daily traffic conditions, increase customer satisfaction, enhance road safety, and protect the environment.
Smarter Energy: In Houston, CenterPoint Energy, one of the largest combined electric and natural gas energy delivery companies in the US, worked with IBM to develop a comprehensive, end-to-end meter monitoring and management system that delivers real-time reporting and status updates regarding the distribution infrastructure. This has not only increased energy efficiency and savings but also improved outage response times. In the islandwIBM helped building the worlds first national smart grid, which will also monitor the countrys water systems.
Public Safety: In New York, IBM worked with the New York Police Department (NYPD) to create a data warehouse that could bring together information buried in filing cabinets, on index cards and in handwritten notes. Today, the Real-Time Computer Complex (RTCC) stitches together more than 120 million New York City criminal complaints, 31 million national crime records and 33 billion public records. ò Water: IBM is helping the Fukuoka District Waterworks Agency in Japan to increase the availability of usable water supply and improve water quality across eight cities in Japan.
Making a difference to India
In 2007, the MCGM awarded its Mumbai City Mobility Management project to Telvent (now Schneider Electric), based on the companys successful urban mobility solutions deployed worldwide. The SmartMobility Traffic solution developed and installed by Schneider Electric was configured as an Adaptive Traffic Control System (ATCS) that alters traffic signal cycles in real time, based on the in situ sensors or surveillance devices, to respond to changing traffic conditions.
Smarter Railways: IBM has worked with the Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS) to implement a Crew Management System (for Indian Railways) to automate the day-to-day management of staffing on board its trains. The CMS provides information about the crew at all times and facilitates the booking of crew on freight trains, passenger carrying trains as well as short movements within terminals and yards. The system uses short message service (SMS) technology to help managers determine the exact location of crew members. When there is a crew shortage, the system generates alerts that enable the supervisor to step in and take action. With direct data access over mobile phones, the system also provides greater transparency and visibility of information to the right person at the right time.
Smarter Airport: Delhi International Airport (P) Limited (DIAL) partnered with IBM India to establish a common-use infrastructure in New Delhis Passenger Terminal Building 3 that automates its operations and improve customer satisfaction while giving the airport a competitive edge through quality service in the growing Indian aviation market, by building a single, scalable unified network solution to integrate all communications across the passenger terminal and its associated service buildings and facilities.
5 steps to smart
Urban and interurban traffic control system: traffic signals, HD enforcement system, supervision and monitoring system for expressway, CCTV, traffic flow detection, weather detection and guidance system, integration in 10 control centres.
Paris Issy Les Moulineaux, France
Smart Grid energy management project at district level, including energy efficiency solutions for buildings and homes, automation systems, renewable installations and electric vehicles charging infrastructure & control centres.
Command & Control Centers for city traffic, critical buildings, metro, parking, CCTV surveillance; air quality monitoring; metro fare collection.
Integrated SCADA, Building Management System & Security system serve buildings for 9000 residents; SCADA improves water distribution system; CCTV provides access control.