The smart city trans­for­ma­tions: the rev­o­lu­tion of the 21st cen­tury

The Smart Manager - - Reading Room - By amitabh satyam and igor calzada

Canada and Aus­tralia are fre­quently rated as the best places to live in. Sim­i­larly, Paris and Hong Kong are con­sis­tently in the top ten cities ranked by global tourists. So are Bangkok and Sin­ga­pore. Beijing has seen an amaz­ing trans­for­ma­tion in the last two decades and now has a cut­ting-edge and con­tem­po­rary look. Lon­don has a fan­tas­tic lo­cal travel in­fra­struc­ture.

Mex­ico City looks amaz­ing but has a high crime rate in parts. Jakarta’s main busi­ness district has one of the best malls in the world but is quite crowded and dirty just a lit­tle away. Mum­bai sup­ports the liveli­hood of 20 mil­lion peo­ple, but more than half of them are liv­ing in slums.

Boast­ing of his­tor­i­cal struc­tures, Europe sets sev­eral cul­tural stan­dards for oth­ers to fol­low. But now, many Euro­pean cities have be­come crime­in­fested and are un­safe to live. Re­li­gious con­flicts are also on the rise. Dubai looks amaz­ing and has the world’s best malls, but some say it lacks in­tel­lec­tual cap­i­tal and a cul­tural iden­tity. In­dia is a coun­try of ru­ins of old struc­tures de­stroyed by the in­vaders, how­ever, the vil­lages are nice and green. The USA is nice ev­ery­where, but crime lev­els are scary.

Which ones of these world’s places are Smart? Great roads, nice of­fice build­ings, beau­ti­ful res­i­dences? Do these good things add up to Smart?


smart is dif­fer­ent from great

The great modern cities of to­day have man­aged the pop­u­la­tion growth and ge­o­graphic ex­pan­sion bet­ter than the not-so-great cities. They have also main­tained the his­tory and tra­di­tions, in ad­di­tion to en­sur­ing ad­e­quate ac­cess to food, wa­ter, trans­port and health.

Like we dis­cussed, Smart is about get­ting more for less, and about har­mon­is­ing life, work, cul­ture, and na­ture. Based on these con­cepts, many of the great cities may ac­tu­ally be Smart, how­ever, we need to find an­other scale and an­other set of met­rics to mea­sure Smart. Met­rics for Smart are dif­fer­ent from those mea­sur­ing great. In ad­di­tion, tourists’ view, city ad­min­is­tra­tors’ view, and the cit­i­zens’ views are not likely to be same, as they are all look­ing for dif­fer­ent as­pects of the city and hence, have a dif­fer­ent set of pa­ram­e­ters to work with.

These great cities may be grand, his­toric, clean and awe­some. We will have to as­sess them dif­fer­ently for a Smart quo­tient.

how to cre­ate a smart liv­ing

Smart is a rel­a­tive term. So, when we talk about de­vel­op­ing a new city that is Smart, or about adding a Smart fea­ture, or chang­ing an ex­ist­ing fea­ture to some­thing smarter, we talk in terms of a de­gree. Smart ideas and so­lu­tions keep evolv­ing and keep the bar mov­ing higher all the time.

Most coun­tries have pro­grammes to trans­form ur­ban liv­ing. In­dia is de­vel­op­ing 100 smart cities. Europe, Ja­pan, and China are at the fore­front of this ur­ban trans­for­ma­tion. Some new cities are be­ing de­vel­oped with Smart con­cepts, whereas some ex­ist­ing ones are go­ing through many mini­trans­for­ma­tions. Trans­porta­tion, schools, gov­ern­ment, hos­pi­tals, po­lice and malls—ev­ery­thing un­der the sun is un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.

Smart is be­com­ing a move­ment. Uni­ver­si­ties have de­part­ments and cour­ses. Technology or­gan­i­sa­tions have new di­vi­sions to fo­cus on Smart. Gov­ern­ments are set­ting up de­part­ments to drive the Smart ini­tia­tives. Cit­i­zens are de­mand­ing Smarter cities.

Smart is also an overused term to­day—you may have ob­served prac­ti­cally ev­ery new fea­ture in any de­vice has a Smart pre­fix. Terms, such as Smart bed, Smart school, Smart TV, Smart kitchen, and Smart dumb­bells of­ten triv­i­alise the foun­da­tion of the Smart con­cept.

In Chap­ter 3, we dis­cussed the driv­ers of the Smart move­ment re­lat­ing to en­vi­ron­ment and qual­ity of life. We will talk about ba­sic expectations from a Smart city in this chap­ter.

These are five broad fea­tures that all Smart cities must as­pire for. They are: 01 En­hance and ex­tend life—re­lates to the sus­tain­abil­ity of life. 02 Ac­cess to ser­vices—con­ve­niences and pro­duc­tiv­ity. 03 Af­ford­abil­ity—av­er­age cit­i­zens should be able to af­ford the Smart so­lu­tions of the Smart city. 04 Avail­abil­ity of In­for­ma­tion— trans­parency of process, ef­fi­ciency in de­ci­sion mak­ing. 05 An­tic­i­pate fu­ture—in­tel­li­gence all around to help in­di­vid­u­als, busi­nesses as well as the com­mu­nity ad­min­is­tra­tion make quick de­ci­sions, either au­to­mat­i­cally or with hu­man in­ter­ven­tion.

en­hance and ex­tend life air and wa­ter

A Smart city must en­sure a breath­able and healthy qual­ity of air. Cities that make its cit­i­zens sick due to pol­lu­tion are not Smart—a Smart city gov­ern­ment must pre-empt such a de­cay of the city. We dis­cussed this in the ear­lier chap­ter.

Many coun­tries end up spend­ing a dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of money in trans­port­ing and clean­ing wa­ter. About 80 per cent of ill­nesses in poor coun­tries are caused by poor wa­ter qual­ity.

Clean wa­ter and clean air are fun­da­men­tal rights in the Smart world.

en­hance and ex­tend life—health­care

Good health means long and com­fort­able life with no or lit­tle phys­i­cal dis­com­fort.

Health man­age­ment and de­liv­ery of health ser­vices to cit­i­zens op­er­ate on sev­eral fi­nan­cial mod­els. In some coun­tries, the gov­ern­ment sets up health man­age­ment cen­tres us­ing the money col­lected from taxes, and cit­i­zens avail these ser­vices for free or at a nom­i­nal cost. If pri­vate com­pa­nies run the health fa­cil­i­ties, then the gov­ern­ment fully or par­tially re­im­burses the cit­i­zens or the health cen­tres. Canada, Swe­den and the UK are ex­am­ples of a gov­ern­ment­driven health­care sys­tem. In an­other model, the gov­ern­ment reg­u­lates the health­care ser­vices run by pri­vate com­pa­nies, as in the USA. Health man­age­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions man­age the ser­vices de­liv­ered through the health cen­tres. In­dia has a dual sys­tem where the gov­ern­ment pro­vides full health­care, but at the same time, pri­vate health­care cen­tres flour­ish as they are con­sid­ered bet­ter. ■

Smart is be­com­ing a move­ment. Uni­ver­si­ties have de­part­ments and cour­ses. Technology or­gan­i­sa­tions have new di­vi­sions to fo­cus on Smart.

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