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