Areas should be citizen-centric, investor-friendly


Innovative and advanced technology should be brought in to India and a large area with glossy high-rise towers shall be called smart city; one must understand that smart city is an urban development strategy. According to Ar. Prem Nath, Prem Nath & Associates smart city, should be about how citizens are shaping the city, and how citizens are empowered to contribute to the development.

What are the major challenges faced while developing smart cities?
The real challenge is that the concept of ‘smart city’ is misunderstood by most of us. The general concept of smart cities is being understood as being innovative, using advanced technology. Modern technology shall be brought to India and a large area with glossy high-rise towers shall be called smart city; however, is an urban development strategy. Smart city, in true sense, should be about how citizens are shaping the city, and how citizens are empowered to contribute to the development. India has majority of villagers, labour class people who still need to understand what technology is all about.

How smart cities are leveraging construction activities in Indian cities?
Smart cities implementation is yet at its nascent stage, thus it shall, in future, leverage a lot of construction activity; however, the current economic situation of the country too is playing a very important role here; for instance, GIFT Smart City at Gujarat, which was initiated by the then CM of Gujarat and current PM of India – it has been more than 6 years now and not much of development has happened; The development pace needs to yet pick-up – once that is done the construction and all other peripheral industries hope to get going on to it.

What is the suitable approach for urban accommodation in smart cities?
The suitable approach to the development in and of smart cities is based on basic key factors that really make a city smart. The city should be simple to plan, approach, the development should be easy to manage and maintain, the development should not be planned for the uber class only allowing occupants of all financial strata. The city should also be rich in resources like power, water, employment, wealth, profitability, etc., in addition to being technologically savvy, WiFi-enabled, communication and transport superior.

How do you look at the technology, products and solutions available for building world-class smart cities in India?
Efforts have to be all-encompassing with entire system working towards it – right from government to architects and other consultant. One of the very important contributors are executors, developers, contractors. Having said that, it is important to mention that a smart city needs a big component of ICT – internet, communication and technology developers and vendors.

What are the existing and emerging trends in designing smart cities?
Smartness in a city means different things to different people. It could be smart design, smart utilities, smart housing, etc. However, people migrate to cities primarily in search of employment and economic activities beside better quality of life. Hence, the city needs to offer economic activities and employment opportunities to a wide section of its residents, regardless of their level of education, skills or income levels. There is also a need to identify its comparative or unique advantage and core competence in specific areas of economic activities and promote such activities aggressively. It also needs to support the required skill development for such activities in a big way.

Apart from employment, it is also important for a smart city to offer decent living options to every resident. This would mean that it will have to provide a very high quality of life i.e. good quality but affordable housing, cost efficient physical, social and institutional infrastructure such as adequate and quality water supply, sanitation,
24 x 7 electric supply, clean air, quality education, etc.

Smart cities are able to attract investments and experts and professionals. Good quality infrastructure, simple and transparent online business and public services processes that make it easy to practice one’s profession or to establish an enterprise and run it efficiently without any bureaucratic hassles are essential features of a citizen-centric and investor-friendly smart city. Adequate availability of the required skills in the labour force is a necessary requirement for sustainability of a smart city.

A smart city needs to offer economic activities and employment opportunities to a wide section of its residents, regardless of their level of education, skills or income levels.
Ar. Prem Nath, Prem Nath & Associates

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