India-An ‘Incubation Lab’ for Smart Cities?

The Indian readiness guide sets the platform for collaboration between local government and technology providers.
Published: Tue 12 Apr 2016

The Smart Cities Council India has launched the Indian Readiness Guide to help urban planners better understand the framework of a smart city and move towards improving the country’s infrastructure.

This falls in line with the country’s very ambitious smart grid plans which we wrote about recently [Smart Grid Progresses in India] The country, led by present Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is strongly focused on development, especially in the infrastructure sectors.

Late last year,Reji Kumar Pillai, President of the India Smart Grid Forum (ISGF) told Engerati in an exclusive interview that the new government has raised the bar and that the Smart Grid Roadmap, which had been developed in 2013, had to be updated.

Imperatives for the smart grid in India include initiatives such as the Electric Mobility Mission, which targets 6-7 million electric vehicles on the roads by 2022, and the ambitious 100 Smart Cities initiative. [Smart Grid Progresses in India.] The Smart Cities mission is a government initiative which involves urban renewal and retrofitting. Its aim is to develop 100 cities all over the country making them citizen friendly and sustainable.

The Smart Grid Roadmap, which was issued by Ministry of Power in August 2013, contains activities and targets towards achieving a nationwide rollout of smart grids by 2027.

The Indian Readiness Guide for smart grid development

The Indian Readiness Guide was launched at the third smart cities summit at which over 70 expert speakers, officials from over 50 cities, and 300 delegates including technology experts, academics and urban planners attended.

The Guide features 80 case studies, of which 40 are success stories from India in terms of improving urban infrastructure. The 400 page report includes studies from Pune, Delhi, Kolkata, Surat, Jabalpur, Hyderabad, and Indore.

The initial chapters focus on introductory, universal aspects, identifying various key responsibilities – the day-to-day services that cities need to provide. A dedicated chapter deals with citizen partnership and engagement and there are then individual chapters about each responsibility, such as water, transportation, public safety, etc., which are illustrated by supporting case studies.

Chapters on the Smart Cities Framework then expand on the relationship between a city’s responsibilities and its enablers – technology solutions that can make those tasks easier and citizen engagement that can make those implementations more inclusive.

India’s smart cities plan attracts US business

Pratap Padode, founder of the Smart Cities Council India, has described the guide as a significant first step by India to put its mark on the global smart cities stage. He added that the country could now become an ‘incubation lab’ for urban solutions.

“The Smart Cities Council has launched this to help cities plan their blueprint better. It is also offering workshops for municipalities seeking training and capacity building,” he explained.

Among the keynote speakers at the event was US Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews, who was leading a delegation of 18 American companies looking to launch or expand trade in India in areas ranging from intelligent transportation, water management and power.

Mr Andrews pointed out that there are substantial opportunities for business in India’s smart city projects and said the US was looking to be a valuable partner in transferring the lessons it has learned in creating environmentally sustainable technology. He noted that there were billion of dollars waiting to be invested to deploy climate-friendly solutions but that “attracting this money is a competition”.

It was up to the government, he said, to make the Indian market the most attractive investment destination it can be. The US is currently engaged in supporting development of Vizag, Allahabad and Ajmer as smart cities but Mr Andrews indicated that it was looking to be involved with all the other projects as well.

As part of the US delegation that met with Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu, Philip Bane, executive director of the Smart Cities Council in Washington, said the Ministry wanted to let Indian cities grow without regulation. This means that while the Central government would allow cities freedom in developing plans for improvement it would not necessarily fund them.

Smart Cities India 2016 exhibition and conference will be held at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, during 11-13 May 2016. The expo will connect exhibitors and speakers with government administrators, municipal bodies, industry leaders, investors, etc., who have interest in developing smart cities.

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