Smart Sus­tain­abil­ity

Sri Lanka’s move to build its first ‘smart city’ in Kandy would be the main driver be­hind its fu­ture so­cio-eco­nomic growth.

Southasia - - CONTENTS -

A new ap­proach to com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment.

For a coun­try that has only just be­gun to re­cover from over two decades of a bit­ter civil war, Sri Lanka seems to be do­ing much bet­ter than ex­pected. How­ever, now it seems as if the Sri Lankan gov­ern­ment has de­cided to up the ante with an even big­ger project in the pipe­line.

In a dis­cus­sion held at Katu­gasthota, the Min­is­ter of Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment and Wa­ter Sup­ply, Rauff Ha­keem, has an­nounced the gov­ern­ment’s plans to make Kandy, sec­ond to only Colombo, as Sri Lanka’s eco­nomic cen­ter and the coun­try’s first ever ‘smart city.’ Ha­keem says that cur­rently, al­though the ini­tia­tive awaits cab­i­net ap­proval, ef­forts have al­ready been made to seek fund­ing from sev­eral donor agen­cies. “We plan to later ex­pand to places like Galle and Colombo,” said Ha­keem, while con­firm­ing that the project is not ex­pected to cost more than US$15 mil­lion.

A rel­a­tively new con­cept, ‘ smart city’ is a term that has steadily been gain­ing mo­men­tum in var­i­ous cir­cles over the past few years. What ex­actly is a ‘smart city’? Ac­cord­ing to the Smart Cities Mis­sion pro­moted by the Min­istry of Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment in In­dia, an­other coun­try which has al­ready be­gun to in­te­grate the con­cept within its com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment agenda, “the pic­ture of a smart city con­tains a wish list of in­fra­struc­ture and ser­vices that de­scribe his/her level of as­pi­ra­tion. To pro­vide for the as­pi­ra­tions and needs of the cit­i­zens, ur­ban plan­ners ideally aim at de­vel­op­ing the en­tire ur­ban eco-sys­tem, which is pre­sented by the four pil­lars of com­pre­hen­sive de­vel­op­ment – in­sti­tu­tional, phys­i­cal, so­cial and eco­nomic in­fra­struc­ture.”

Sim­ply put, it is the use of dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies or in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies (ICT) to en­hance qual­ity and per­for­mance of ur­ban ser­vices, to re­duce costs and re­source consumption and to en­gage more ef­fec­tively and ac­tively with its cit­i­zens.

But what pos­si­ble ad­van­tages could a smart city of­fer to coun­tries around the world? For starters, it could help con­struct a frame­work that is not only geared to­wards eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment but which can also in­still sus­tain­abil­ity among pub­lic and pri­vate stake­hold­ers - a need which has

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