Technology alone won't deliver smart cities. That would require innovative design and creativity in solving problems
Whave allowed urbanisation to grow out of proportion, HILE WE we have failed to contain the sharp decline in the quality of urban life.Maybe our contemporary approaches to urbanisation offer only short-term, quick fix solutions. No doubt, offering a permanent solution for something as complex and evolving as urbanisation is easier said than done. The need for short and long-term strategies for sustainable urbanisation cannot be ruled out.The reason is simple: by the middle of this century,nearly 70 per cent of the world’s population will be living in urban areas, and urbanising India will surpass all nations, even China.India will add 497 million additional people to its existing and emerging cities by then.
So for a viable solution we’re looking at smart cities.It’s a new technology-intensive approach to urban innovation,where technology monitors and drives urban systems.The Union government has cleared the Smart Cities Mission and has sanctioned 48,000 crore for this initiative.There’s no looking back now.
We are excited because we think building smart cities will lead to a quantum jump towards redefining and redesigning our urban landscape, and sceptical,because we can’t safely predict how technological interventions can be assimilated in our existing urban systems.Tech giants Siemens, Hitachi, Cisco and others envision smart cities as urban agglomerations having smart buildings, intelligent parking solutions, electrical mobility supported by fast-charging solar stations,information control systems and so on.All this sounds like science fiction.We will have to find creative ways to apply this new paradigm to rejuvenate our ailing urban systems and achieve sustainable urbanisation. Smart cities may require some strategic design interventions at different levels—from systems and products to communication. Strategic design interventions do not mean replacing technology with design,rather augmenting it to make it more user-friendly and effective in terms of solving complex urbanisation problems.