Modern urbanisation: challenges ahead
The need of the hour is to develop innovative and viable mechanisms to secure funds for smart cities
India is rapidly urbanising and the urban population in 2031 is expected to increase to 600 million, which is almost two times the population figure of 2001. In 2031, at least 50% of the population will live in the urban areas and their contribution to the GDP will be at least 62% to 63%. Urban areas will be crucial to the country’s economic growth and they will require massive restructuring to support the future population. Smart cities propose a solution to mitigate the problem of urbanisation. They integrate Information and Communication Technology (ICT), energy efficiency and sustainability to provide a quality of life than can support future generations.
Smart cities can be of three types: new cities, existing cities retrofitted with smart technologies and purpose-driven cities designed around a core activity. Irrespective of the categorisation, all smart cities integrate ICT into different components. These components include energy, transportation, smart buildings, governance, and social infrastructure. However the scope and extent of this integration and application may greatly vary between cities. Smart cities depend on nonrenewable resources for gen- erating power, promote mixed use developments to encourage walkability and reduce wastage of resources. Efficient energy management though smart grids and smart metering are an important feature. These cities provide seamless integrated public transportation that allows efficient and swift mobility across the city. Smart cities will consist of energy-efficient buildings that reduce the overall carbon footprint. Every citizen will have access to quality social and physical infrastructure. In addition to this, reformed governance structure with accountable and empowered urban local bodies will support effective implementation and future sustenance of the cities.
In order to implement an extensive undertaking such as a smart city, five crucial elements are necessary: power, infrastructure, funds, technology and social capital. Smart cities require clean and continuous supply of power and for this there is a need to develop alternative energy sources to make the cities financially and ecologically viable. Both physical and social infrastructure developments will be crucial. Up gradation and maintenance of the existing infrastructure is necessary. Developing innovative and viable mechanisms to secure funds for smart cities is essential.