What is a Smart City?

A smart city is an urban development vision to integrate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Internet of things (IoT) technology in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets. Wikipedia.

Smart Cities Awas Yojna Mission by the Government of India has been initiated with a mission to develop 100 cities (the target has been revised to 109 cities) all over the country with the aim of making cities sustainable and enhance the overall quality of urban services. The mission has also proposed special economic zones in many of these cities to attract foreign investment.

The list of the first 20 shortlisted cities to receive the funds to start the process of developing into smart cities was released on January 2016. Bhubaneswar topped the list followed by Pune and Jaipur.

Some of the features of a Smart City includes:

  • Expanding housing opportunities for all.
  • Enhancing administrative services with the aim to reduce pollution and creating walkable localities.
  • Promoting eco-balance by developing and preserving open space.
  • Promoting better public transport services.
  • Promoting online services to make governance simple and cost effective.
  • Providing smart solutions to infrastructure and services.
  • Enabling flexibility in land use to adapt to change.
  • Data Centre providing information about every city.
  • Integrated Control Room for quick and timely emergency services.

Smart Cities Mission with an aim to accommodate the expanding population in the urban areas, looks forward to an increase in the use of technology, create employment and enhance the overall quality of living for the citizens.

With challenges of funding and selecting the best strategy for the development of the Smart Cities, another point that needs to be considered is inclusion of people with disabilities. As cities evolve and integrate new technologies, it is also necessary to engage people with disabilities and the elderly in the process.

Shilpi Kapoor, founder BarrierBreak emphasizes on this “If an information on a socio-cultural event to be held in a Smart City has to be dissipated, it must have feeds on whether the venue is disabled-friendly or not. There must be an accessible digital platform through which people with disabilities can gather this information.”

An organization working on Accessible Smart Cities in India is NCPEDP. Globally G3ict and World ENABLED announced the global Defining Accessible Smart Cities Initiative. Check out Smart Cities & Digital Inclusion.