Smart cities can’t do with­out smart cit­i­zens

In­volve­ment of cit­i­zens manda­tory in func­tion­ing of smart cities for ef­fi­cient and op­ti­mum use of smart technology and fa­cil­i­ties

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - A Shankar

Tra­di­tion­ally, ini­tia­tives like smart cities are in­di­ca­tors of de­vel­oped economies. A de­vel­op­ing coun­try will be­come a suc­cess­fully de­vel­oped coun­try when its cit­i­zens also up­grade and up­date them­selves. In In­dia, the smart city ini­tia­tive is in full swing, with the top 20 smart cities ready for the next stage of im­ple­men­ta­tion. The smart city mis­sion fo­cuses on the technology over­lay­ing the ba­sic in­fra­struc­ture that will be built in right places and in suf­fi­cient quan­ti­ties in the cities.

How­ever, the most vi­tal as­pect – the cit­i­zens who live and work i n t hese c i t - ies – must be in­te­gral to the im­ple­men­ta­tion process as well. The suc­cess of In­dian smart cities is firmly vested in smart cit­i­zens.

Aware­ness about smart so­lu­tions plays a cru­cial role in de­vel­op­ing true smart cit­i­zens. Though the local author­i­ties of our smart cities will make sub­stan­tial in­vest­ments in smart so­lu­tions, they can­not skimp on ef­forts to raise cit­i­zen aware­ness on the ef­fi­cient us­age of these so­lu­tions and ser­vices.

For ex­am­ple, energy sav­ing can­not be achieved merely by in­stalling smart me­ters in hous­ing units. In or­der to re­duce energy con­sump­tion and save money on bills, con­sumers need to not only mon­i­tor their energy use but also make an ef­fort to change the whole fam­ily’s daily ener

gy us­age be­hav­iour. This would in­clude shift­ing to energy-ef­fi­cient ap­pli­ances, re­duc­ing TV time and switch­ing off elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances when not in use, es­pe­cially dur­ing peak pe­ri­ods.

A smart city con­nects peo­ple with their en­vi­ron­ment and city to cre­ate more ef­fi­cient and op­ti­mal re­la­tion­ships be­tween avail­able re­sources, technology, com­mu­nity ser­vices, and events in the ur­ban fab­ric. This con­nec­tion is a tool that links the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the smart city and the pro­posed technology.

JLL In­dia’s Strate­gic Con­sult­ing team ad­vo­cates cit­i­zen par­tic­i­pa­tion as the ma­jor suc­cess fac­tor in im­ple­ment­ing the smart so­lu­tions in a city, and suc­cess­fully demon­strated this while preparing the pro­posal for Bhubanesh­war and Chen­nai (among the top 20 smart cities, with Bhubanesh­war ranked #1). The as­pects to be fol­lowed to make the smart city mis­sion suc­cess­ful through smart cit­i­zens across In­dia:

Cit­i­zen par­tic­i­pa­tion: Most de­vel­oped cities en­sure that cit­i­zens par­tic­i­pate in ev­ery as­pect from clean­ing to safety re­quire­ments. Cit­i­zen par­tic­i­pa­tion en­sures cit­i­zen sat­is­fac­tion, which in turn en­sures max­i­mum ef­fi­ciency of the pro­posed technology. Good gov­er­nance is al­ways mea­sured by the ex­tent to which it in­volves its cit­i­zens in the over­all de­ci­sion-mak­ing process.

In an in­creas­ingly com­plex world, cit­i­zens’ in­puts are a crit­i­cal re­source for policy-mak­ing. Good de­ci­sion-mak­ing re­quires the knowl­edge, ex­pe­ri­ences, views and val­ues of the publ i c. The par­tic­i­pa­tion of cit­i­zens has be­come sim­pler through on­line Government por­tals. Such par­tic­i­pa­tion re­duces the conflict of opin­ions and makes im­ple­men­ta­tion eas­ier. Smart cit­i­zens need to be fully in­clu­sive, in­no­va­tive and sus­tain­able.

Joint en­gage­ment of cit­i­zens and government: Po­lit­i­cal will and the tech­ni­cal ca­pac­ity to en­gage cit­i­zens in policy mak­ing, or pro­vid­ing ac­cu­rate data on government per­for­mance, are the hall­marks of de­vel­oped democ­ra­cies. Though mak­ing poli­cies for a city’s growth and com­pre­hen­sive development is im­por­tant, a smart city ac­knowl­edges that poli­cies alone are not enough to reach their goals. It so­lic­its sup­port from its cit­i­zens and local stake­hold­ers to make this hap­pen. Cit­i­zens are called upon to jointly take re­spon­si­bil­ity and en­gage in the process. Build­ing social cap­i­tal is es­sen­tial to en­sure that smart cit­i­zens ac­quire the Will they re­spect el­ders and give way to se­nior cit­i­zens? Will they park their ve­hi­cles at des­ig­nated lots and not any­where else? Will they main­tain hy­giene not only ca­pa­bil­i­ties and skills to meet the chal­lenges of the fu­ture. Only then does a city be­come ‘fu­ture ready’.

Technology sup­port: Technology has given the world new di­men­sions; glob­ally, cit­i­zens are be­com­ing tech­nol­o­gy­ori­ented in ev­ery as­pect con­cern­ing their com­fort, con­ve­nience and safety. Technology sup­port has be­come an es­sen­tial fac­tor for the growth of a city and its cit­i­zens.

The use of in­no­va­tive in­for­ma­tion and communications technology (ICT) ap­pli­ca­tions, smart­phones and smart fix­tures are all part of the process of mak­ing smart cit­i­zens. When city dwellers use the In­ter­net to make smarter, more in­formed choices, cities be­come smarter too. The right ap­proach to­wards the smart city mis­sion in­volves a balance be­tween tech­no­log­i­cal and non-tech­no­log­i­cal ap­proach.

The ICT plat­form is the best their flats but also in the com­mon areas of their apart­ment com­plexes? Will they throw garbage only in bins and prac­tice source seg­re­ga­tion dur­ing garbage dis­posal? tool to bridge the cur­rent gap be­tween the Government and cit­i­zens. The smart city con­cept nec­es­sar­ily em­pha­sises the in­clu­sion of ICT so­lu­tions as part of its en­tire pro­posal. Go­ing for­ward, such a sys­tem will be ro­bust and sus­tain­able. There are lot of apps and on­line plat­form avail­able to fa­cil­i­tate cit­i­zen par­tic­i­pa­tion, some of which are the Swachh Bharat Clean In­di­amo­bile app, IPaidABribe. com, Safecity I ndia, Next Bengaluru and Kumb­hathon. Cities be­come more dy­namic by the use of such plat­forms.

The Government has al­ready launched the nec­es­sary tools to help cit­i­zens par­tic­i­pate proac­tively in the smart city mis­sion. These in­clude street cam­paign­ing, education pro­grammes in schools and col­leges, me­dia ad­ver­tise­ments and hoard­ings, con­sul­ta­tion pro­grammes with Government of­fi­cials, on­line par­tic­i­pa­tion etc.

MyGov. in is an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of ICT in­te­grat­ing and in­creas­ing the ef­fi­ciency of cit­i­zen en­gage­ment. All policy-level de­ci­sions will di­rectly in­volve cit­i­zens’ opin­ions. This plat­form will make the sys­tem more trans­par­ent and act as an in­ter­ac­tive forum be­tween cit­i­zens and the Government. It al­lows cit­i­zens to post their com­ments and sug­ges­tion on any pro­posal and also in­cludes dif­fer­ent types There is no such thing as a stan­dard tem­plate or a magic all-in-one smart city ap­pli­ca­tion. Al­low­ing cit­i­zens to be­come ac­tive in the process of city de­sign and build­ing en­abling ‘bot­tom-up’ innovation and col­lab­o­ra­tive ways of de­vel­op­ing sys­tems out of many loosely-joined parts will help in im­ple­ment­ing the smart cities mis­sion suc­cess­fully of par­tic­i­pa­tion (ie vot­ing, rais­ing public aware­ness, ad­vo­cat­ing for an is­sue, and mon­i­tor­ing po­lit­i­cal pro­cesses) that will best pro­mote demo­cratic development in dif­fer­ent con­texts. It is a technology that is created to pur­pose­fully con­nect cit­i­zens’ groups and am­plify their voices.

In ad­di­tion, pri­vate technology devel­op­ers are con­tin­u­ously ex­plor­ing smart tech­nolo­gies from smart mo­biles to smart fur­ni­ture and ap­pli­ances, mar­ket­ing them at af­ford­able prices to reach to all cat­e­gories of peo­ple. This not only helps in cost sav­ing but also con­nect­ing with glob­ally-em­ployed smart tech­nolo­gies. More­over, spe­cially formed so­ci­eties in res­i­den­tial colonies and cor­po­rate com­pa­nies across In­dia are now taking up ini­tia­tives like clean­ing the neigh­bour­hood, roads and water bod­ies, tree plan­ta­tion, elec­tronic waste re­cy­cling, etc.

To en­sure a greater share of on­line par­tic­i­pa­tion chan­nels such as through smart­phone ap­pli­ca­tions and social me­dia, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties needs to in­vest in smart peo­ple – not merely in smart tech­nolo­gies. Only then will tools like smart­phones and mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tions have the po­ten­tial to rev­o­lu­tionise.

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