Can India Learn From Smart Cities Across The Globe?

by June 19, 2015 0 comments

It is predicted that by 2050, about 64 per cent of the developing world and 86 per cent of the developed world will be urbanized. This rapid urbanization has cities at the core of the world growth agenda. Competitiveness of nations is turning into competitiveness of cities. Attractiveness of cities depends on effectiveness of city’s economic, environmental and social services. With burning need to improve a nation and a city’s competitiveness, many nations around the world have taken up smart cities initiatives to improve competitiveness of its cities.

World’s “Smart”est Cities

According to Juniper’s research on world’s top smart cities, Barcelona is ranked on top followed by New York, London, Nice, and Singapore.

Juniper’s Smart City Rankings was compiled following an analysis of each city’s ‘smart’ capabilities, with particular focus on their use of smart grids, smart traffic management and smart street lighting, alongside aspects such as technological capability and social cohesion, among others. It was found that the leader, Barcelona, performed consistently well across all metrics and serves as an exciting model of success from which others can learn, bolstered by strong environmentally sustainable initiatives, says the report.

Other leading cities like New York and London, still require greater emphasis on implementing environmentally positive projects, despite excelling in areas such as technological capability and a willingness to engage with citizens through open data.

The global scenario of smart cities may help India to replicate or take inspiration to reach the goal efficiently and faster. As pert the NASSCOM’s report, some of the early examples set by the nations of smart cities are Singapore, Dubai, Amsterdam, and Birmingham.

Barcelona

Being on top, Barcelona harnesses technology in the best way to support a more collaborative and preventative approaches, helping its citizens to stay connected and feel safe. For instance, Barcelona provincial council has rolled out ‘telecare plus’, a telecare wearable device available for senior citizens, differently-abled citizens, or anybody else who may need emergency  medical attention.

Telecare-service-in-Barcelona

Telecare service in Barcelona: Citizens who may require urgent medical attention like senior citizens are given a wearable device that can call a 24×7 call center at the press of a button

The wearable device is connected through a (land or mobile) telephone line to a call centre, which can be contacted at the simple press of a button. The call centre has a team of professionals who attend to requests and mobilise, like locating family members or designated contacts, sending a mobile unit out to the user’s home or mobilising other emergency services like doctor, etc.

Dubai

After focusing the initial 10 years on physical infrastructure and its modernization, Dubai embarked on a smart city programme across three tracks – smart life, smart economy and smart tourism. The six key initiatives included: 1) Open and easy access to data shared among residents and institutions with smart boards for residents to obtain information about the city; 2) A central control centre to monitor and manage traffic throughout the city; 3) ‘Smart Electrical Grid’ programme to encourage residents to use solar energy and sell the surplus to the Authority; 4) Smart parks and beaches that will provide relevant information such as safety instructions, weather and sea conditions, temperature and more; 5) Police smartphone to enable residents to make reports and enquiries without having to travel down to a police station; 6) World’s largest 5D control room, which will be the central operation centre to oversee all government projects and monitor real-time situations in the city, including emergencies, road conditions, weather, etc.

Lowline-park

New York’s Lowline park, a one-acre old trolley terminal renovated and illuminated with sunlight via fiberoptics

New York

Since public or green spaces are squeezing into cities and concrete buildings, New York has planned Lowline park, which is an old trolley terminal renovated and illuminated with sunlight via fiberoptics. This solar technology involves the creation of a ‘remote skylight’. In this approach, sunlight passes through a glass shield above the parabolic collector, and is reflected and gathered at one focal point, and directed underground.

birmingham

Birmingham City Council mobile app enabling from browsing jobs to reporting a pot hole

Birmingham

Birmingham Smart City Programme’s roadmap comprises 39 proposed actions like free community Wi-Fi, eHealth services, smart metering, etc., to be delivered over the next three years, by identifying funding through European, national and regional programmes.  One of them already implemented is the free Birmingham City Council mobile and web app, which allows citizens to browse council jobs, find and get directions to any leisure centre, library, school, museum, or household recycling centre in the city, keep up with news and any disruption to services, report a problem with rubbish bags or recycling boxes, request street cleaning, report faulty street lights and street name plates, report a pot hole and so on.

Singapore

Singapore’s five-year plan on smart growth focusses city’s streets, a network of sensors, cameras and GPS devices embedded in taxi cabs track traffic, predict future congestion alerting all downtown drivers to alternate routes. Singapore’s advanced system on congestion pricing utilizes traffic data to adjust prices in real-time and drivers’ accounts are automatically deducted as they glide beneath electronic gantries. A superfast, next-generation broadband network already reaches 95 percent of homes and businesses in Singapore.

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