‘Smart Cities Should Have A Self-Sustaining Ecosystem’
While the government has begun the spadework to deliver on the promise of 100 smart cities, there is no doubt that the development of smart cities in India is a big challenge. Smart cities need to have a self-sustainable ecosystem to be successful so that
CTO & Leader, HP Future Cities
Voice&Data: What are the challenges in building 100 smart cities in India?
Lux Rao: In the current scenario and for the foreseeable future, the government will have less money to deal with greater demands for public services. Rising unemployment, particularly among young people, as well as rising urban population will add to the pressure.
The citizens of today are empowered by a wave of new technology. They have instant access to consumer services over the Internet via their smartphones, and are demanding similar levels of dynamic and responsive services from local government bodies.
Recognizing this metamorphic shift in both the financial and social environments, and creating reliable, cost-effective, and sustainable citizen services is vital if the public sector is to address the challenge of doing more with less, differently.
Some of the challenges that we face are: The reality of a growing population,
increased demand for energy, depleting natural resources, and aging infrastructure which calls for better utilities, healthcare, education, etc.
In terms of ICT challenges, here are a few pointers:
Government Agencies Operate in Silos: There is a compelling need to simplify, integrate, and orchestrate multiple government agencies to provide seamless services to the citizen.
Multi-modality and Volumes of Data: The availability of data in different formats such as audio, video, pictures, text, and data encryption is a challenge. The challenge is further intensified by the exponential volumes of data growth, as well as data authenticity and security issues. Making sense of the data to derive real-time and purpose-led insights are key to driving citizen-oriented policies and programs.
Skills and Scale: Relevant skill set is needed to enable a smooth harmonious transition. Technology platform for engaging citizens in an ongoing dialog and enabling active participation is required.
Voice&Data: Is it possible to modernize the existing cities into smart cities?
Lux Rao: Existing cities are brownfield opportunities as opposed to brand new cities that are called greenfields. Both categories have their own set of challenges and opportunities. It is relatively complex to implement a smart city framework on an existing city as we need to take into cognizance the legacy technologies, sometimes archaic city planning, the urban clutter, the disruption effects, and the sheer ennui to change. However, the upside is that there is a civic process in place, the benefits of modernization are instantaneous and the constituents are provided with opportunities to enhance their lifestyle and livelihoods.
At HP, we understand the challenges of both greenfield and brownfield deployments and every city is unique in its own ways. We propose a city assessment workshop that clearly brings to fore the current state of the city. The current state is then mapped to the desired state or the vision. A gap analysis is then drawn
up leading to an action plan that could get implemented over multiple phases.
The biggest learning from our experience in implementing global smart city projects is that it is important to take a holistic citizen-centric approach to planning and execution.
Voice&Data: According to you, what will be the infrastructure requirements?
Lux Rao: From the ICT perspective— cloud infrastructure, citizen services applications, a robust mobility platform, a network of sensors, aggregating platforms, connectivity, analytics, etc, form the bulwark of infrastructure on which smart cities are planned.
This is very well complemented by core infrastructure that provides an efficient way of providing resources such as electricity, water, etc, along with solid waste management, to the citizens.
Voice&Data: How can the government build up the infrastructure?
Lux Rao: There are many models by which the infrastructure is planned and built. Models such as PPP, BOOT, BOT, are some of the ways in which the infrastructure is built up.
Voice&Data: How can IT enable the smart city concept?
Lux Rao: Leading cities of the world will create safe, livable, and vibrant environments for their citizens. They will deliver high quality education, healthcare, and other services to ensure that all citizens meet their fullest potential. These cities will always have a foot in the present and yet look to the future.
Cities like these will be what we call ‘future cities’, those that are always seeking to improve and innovate around the needs of the citizens and businesses.
Cities that are future ready will ride on a robust IT framework. IT is a key enabler and will ensure the whole gamut of citizen engagement ranging from delivery of services, information for all, ongoing dialog with citizens, and monitoring the metrics.
Dashboards for the key outcomes of a smart city plan are:
Improving the citizen experience through portals, mobile applications, and ‘one-stop’ access to government services;
Transforming services and service delivery of individual departments to improve efficiency and effectiveness;
Addressing back office processes to increase efficiency and reduce costs;
Developing new business models, including usage-based consumption and public/private partnerships to shift from capex to opex, gain financial flexibility, and drive innovation through a broad ecosystem.
Voice&Data: Which technologies will be of utmost importance for smart cities? As a technology provider, how can HP help in building smart cities?
Lux Rao: Governments around the world partner with HP to radically transform what they do and how they operate, to shift from an output-based paradigm to a citizen-centric government focused on results and public value. Citizen-centric governments put their customers—citizens and businesses—at the focal point of all key decisions, from budgeting to service design to channel for service delivery.
Innovations are being driven by citizen expectations as well as resource challenges. The four pillars of the new style of IT—big data, cloud, mobility, and security—make what was previously impossible, possible.
Big data allows us to develop a very detailed understanding of the constituent, to identify trends and to target services to citizens when they need them.
Cloud drives improvements in efficiency and accelerates access to resources and expertise as well as innovation.
Mobility opens up completely new ways of addressing the ‘last mile’ challenge to help create new customer experiences.
Security helps improve trust in the government.
—Lux Rao CTO & Leader, HP Future Cities