Digitally Smart Cities: Springboards for Development

Would you like to live in a digitally connected city where transport, waste management and infrastructure facilities among others are seamlessly aligned? A city where affordable housing synchs with good governance and a sustainable environment? You may not have to wait long as India’s Smart City mission is all set to bring this and more to you soon.

It is estimated that India will have 843 million urban citizens by 2050, a cohort of productive workers who can bring huge gains to the country’s development, given the right conditions.

The “Digital India” vision has set an ambitious plan to build over 100 smart cities across the country. These smart cities, recreated or created as industrial and commercial centres, are expected to blossom alongside the Industrial Corridors that will connect India’s big metropolitan cities.

The global smart cities market size is expected to grow from USD 308 billion in 2018 to USD 717.2 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 18.4%.  The Indian Government’s USD 7.3 billion Smart City mission is aimed at applying smart solutions to improve infrastructure and service delivery in Indian cities.

With millions moving to urban areas by 2050, future cities will need to figure out innovative methods of urban city management to improve the quality of life of citizens.

There is no universally accepted definition of a smart city. It primarily depends on the perceptions of dwellers, their aspirational levels of development, readiness to accept change and reform given the limited resources that will be available. To provide these, urban planners ideally need to aim at comprehensive development represented by institutional, physical, social and economic infrastructure.

Smart Cities use digital technology to enhance performance and well-being, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and to engage more effectively and actively with citizens. Thankfully, there are enough case studies of implemented projects which could be referred to while designing citizen-centric models. One of the important considerations that needs to be factored is to seamlessly integrate urban dwellers with their neighbouring rural population. Though challenging, the execution of this plan could make India take a major leap in the race of development.

Typically, the core infrastructure elements in a smart city would include adequate water supply;  assured electricity supply; sanitation, including solid waste management; efficient urban mobility & public transport; affordable housing, especially for the poor; robust IT connectivity and digitalization; good governance, especially e-Governance & citizen participation; sustainable environment; safety &  security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly and health and education. E

Smart Cities Mission in India is an urban renewal and retrofitting program by the Government with

a vision to making them citizen friendly and sustainable. The Union Ministry of Urban Development is responsible for implementing the mission in collaboration with the state governments of the respective cities. To make this Mission successful, the proactive role of Government in policy formulation and grass-root level support will be crucial.

The Mission has multiple benefits:

  • create an efficient urban management system;
  • enhance the capacity of urban institutions;
  • enable decentralization agenda;
  • create enabling conditions for inclusive and equitable urbanization;
  • lower the pressure on current cities;
  • provide more job opportunities;
  • provide vibrant market for agro & industrial products;
  • help in development of surrounding areas;
  • reduce inter-state migrations drastically;
  • provide better educational opportunities to surrounding rural areas &
  • support and incubate the host state’s culture as well as socio-economic domains. F

We can all participate to make our cities smarter, better and cleaner, making our lives much better.


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