ICT has constructed pockets of efficiencies into governance; it’s now wiring up the pieces to build a pulsating entity
magine a city where information systems of different government agencies talk to each other for better service delivery to citizens; where public safety system allows real-time video surveillance and faster response to emergencies, and where advanced analytics can interpret large amounts of data to improve healthcare. Imagine a city where traffic congestion is eliminated and pollution is reduced; where people get timely insight into their own water use to locate inefficiencies and decrease unnecessary demand, and where smart power grids smooth up consumption and lower energy usage. No, this is not a city of tomorrow. It is a vision of city of today and such cities are already in the making in many parts of the world.
What’s driving their arrival? City administrations are responsible not only for core services such as energy, water, environmental sustainability, urban planning and architecture, but also needs to focus on reducing congestion in transport systems; improving public safety by reducing crime and emergency response time; improving education and training delivery, and enabling wider access to healthcare. The application of advanced information and communication technologies can help administrators better understand, predict and intelligently respond to citizen needs. Prakash Rane, Managing Director, ABM Knowledgeware, says, “The term smart city encompasses a fairly wide canvas. A smart city
would mean clean city with easy and timely access to critical civic services ranging from
health, education, disaster management, affordable housing for the urban poor, adequate water supply and sanitation, solid waste management and so forth. Each of these domains would have abundant scope for deploying technologies such as SCADA, GIS, wireless communication, wide area networking for any time anywhere service; suitable application oftware for automating business processes with different Web services and a service-oriented rchitecture; mobile computing, RFID, biometrics and other such technologies.” On the dvantages of a smart city,
AK Mehta, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, says, A smart city delivers goods and services more efficiently and at a lesser cost, increases roductivity per capita and lowers human and financial costs. So there is no option for overnments worldwide but to adopt the concept of smart city.” Talking about the technology trends in the smart city domain, Mathew Thomas, Vice President, Strategic ndustries, SAP India Subcontinent, notes, “Technology drivers for smart city point at irtualisation and consolidation of technology assets like computing devices, networks and torage, usage of the Internet and user-friendly interfaces such as kiosks and the emergence of hared services through service orientation.” The experiences worldwide The smart city oncept has been triggered by the rapid growth of urbanisation. A number of cities across the orld today are on way to become United Arab Emirates. Planners are working with top cientists, engineers and innovators to create interconnected systems and manage them hrough an integrated city dashboard to be able to fine-tune their metropolis in real time. his is shaping up what could be the world’s first economically and environmentally sustainable city, with zero carbon emissions. India too is on way to develop smart cities and has initiated pilot projects to develop ‘smart communities.’ The pilots have been initiated in Haryana (Manesar Bawal region), Maharashtra (Shendra industrial region) and Gujarat (Changodar and Dahej). These eco-friendly cities would provide world-class facilities with 24-hour power supply and drinking water, mass rapid urban transportation, with bicycle andwalking tracks, complete waste and water recycling, systems for smart grids, and digitally managed systems to control energy consumption. What planners are thinking The government realises the importance of ICT for more liveable, citizen-centric, connected and smart cities. According to Mehta, “ICT use is very important in city administration since it lowers costs and helps in better service delivery. We need to look at city as a system, and all its verticals should have the same basic backbone of IT, which should be shared by all stakeholders in city management.” He emphasises the significance of planning ahead, “The city planning should be done keeping in view the infrastructure needs of the city 20 years from now and not as per needs of today. The cost of planning ahead is much less than doing it all over again 20 years later.” The city infrastructure also needs to be developed at a faster pace. The current state of the infrastructure is dismal, remarks SR Rao, Additional Secretary, Department of Informa- “Technology drivers for smart city are virtualisation of assets like computing devices, networks and storage, and usage of the Internet and kiosks” Mathew Thomas Vice President, Strategic Industries, SAP India Subcontinent ‘smart cities’, combining technology and urban policy for streamlined urban systems. This is leading to the transformation of public safety and disaster management, education, healthcare, transportation, water and power sectors. Transport officials in Brisbane, Singapore and Stockholm are using smart systems to reduce both congestion and pollution. Public safety officials in major cities like New York are able not only to solve crimes and respond to emergencies, but also prevent them. City managers in Energy Australia and IBM are workingtogether to apply 12,000 smart sensing devices throughout the electricity distribution etwork in Australia to make power grids. New York, Syracuse, Santa Barbara and St. Louis are using data analytics, wireless and video surveillance capabilities to strengthen crime fighting and coordination of emergency response units. Malta is building a smart grid that links the power and water systems, and will detect leakages, allow for variable pricing and provide more control to consumers. Ultimately, it will enable this island country to replace fossil fuels with sustainable energy sources. Masdar City is being built from scratch near Abu Dhabi,
Additional Secretary, Department of Information Technology, MoCIT, Government of India “Municipal projects would bring about a positive change by developing urban infrastructure and also encourage accountability of ULBs to citizens” Shrik ant Shit ole Vice President, Transformational Business, Cisco-India and SAARC tion Technology. He says, “Before we move towards the next level of cities, it is important to understand the current level of rbanisation.
It is interesting to note that 40 percent of the treated water is unaccounted for. Forty percent of the urban population lives in slum areas. A mere 50 percent of the total garbage produced is scientifically treated. Almost 80 ercent of the electricity consumption is on water and sewage. The turbines and propellants used are age-old.” This necessitates the urgent need for ICT enabled integrated cities. Mehta recommends, “We need to create 21st century cities, characterised by inter-connectivity of governance, health, education, security, water and energy. For achieving this goal, there is a need for laying cables in the cities urgently. The wireless technology does not have the necessary bandwidth.” A framework is in making With the goal of achieving fast-track and planned development of identified mission cities, Ministry of Urban Development in the year 2005 launched the flagship programme, Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (Jnnurm ). Under Jnnurm , the National Mission Mode Project (NMMP) on e-Governance in municipalities has also been taken up, under which the urban local bodies (ULBs) get funding from Government of India for upgrading their civic infrastructure with use of technology. The ministry has done a mid-term correction in December 2009, modifying the implementation approach for e-Governance under Jnnrum . The entire focus of current monitoring of e-Governance of ULBs is now ’outcome’ based. “This approach, by Commercially-off-the-Shelf (COTS) approach
in their information application infrastructure. Also, the Ministry of Urban Development has taken steps for adoption of state-level software applications for all ULBs to ensure uniformity and compliance to standards. In this regard,
Mehta, points out that for upgrading of the ULBs, state-level solutions rather than municipal
level solutions are needed. “State level IT architecture for ULBs will ensure interoperability and synergy, and bring down the cost,” he notes. Lalit Kumar Gupta, Vice President, Public
Sector and Higher Education, Industry Business Unit, Oracle Asia Pacific and Japan, suggests,
“Municipal governments need to ensure transparent and consistent citizen services. They also need to provide the right mechanisms to attract business investment into theirmunicipalities. Legacy systems need to be updated. ICT can play an important role in this transformation of municipal governance.” Talking about the significance of e-Municipality MMP, Shrikant Shitole, Vice President, Transformational Business, Cisco-India and Saarc , is optimistic, “The municipal projects would definitely bring about a positive change through their increased focus on developing urban infrastructure, and would also encourage community participation and accountability of ULBs towards citizens.” He lays stress on the network as the underlying service delivery platform and envisions interconnected government.
Early building blocks
Some successful projects for providing e-Government solutions to municipalities are being implemented in states. These include, Smart Parking (Spark) at the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation parking complex, property tax management system using GIS in Kanpur Municipal Corporation, State Urban Bodies Integrated Data Handling and Access (Subidha) in Bhubaneswar, municipal reforms through Municipal e-Governance Project in Pune, MAINet project in Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation, Complete automation of birth and death registration certificates in Chennai, birth and death certificates through e-Seva centre in Hyderabad, and integrated ERPbased solution implementation in the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, among others. MAINet: MAINet is an end-to-end computerisation program for creating an e-Municipality involving all departments and over 100 citizen services to be rendered in a time-bound manner through citizen facilitation centres (CFCs) in Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation
“Municipal reforms through service level benchmarks and e-Governance are here to stay and will be much more than just digitisation of a few services”