Creating smart cities with technology

by June 8, 2014 0 comments

Most problems related to urban India are fairly well known and are often the topic of casual discussions. The good news is that they can easily be addressed using commonly available technology and some smart thinking. Here’s a summary of the challenges and the possibilities.

Challenges plaguing our cities are already known: The infrastructure in most existing Indian cities is crumbling under the pressure of an exponentially rising population. For instance, we’re all too familiar with poor public transport facilities and poor quality of roads, which lead to traffic congestion, higher CO2 emissions, more road accidents, and more health issues.

Electricity and water shortages are a part and parcel of every Indian’s life, be it due to grid failures, poor quality equipment, broken pipes, faulty meters, or something else. On top of that, we have to put up with rising costs for these basic amenities despite their frequent non-availability.

Security and safety concerns, especially for women, have been in the limelight for quite some time now. Likewise, there are issues with communication, sanitation and cleanliness, tourism, careers and job opportunities….the list is endless.

Technology if used correctly can partially answer a lot of these challenges to make smarter cities.

Required Tech is Already Here: The good thing is that most of the basic, commonly available technologies can be used to address these challenges. Mobiles and social media for instance, are strong mediums to establish a two-way communication with people. Analytics plays a key role in analyzing the huge amount of data that would get generated and cloud can be the platform to integrate all data and make it accessible from anywhere at any time, while ensuring high availability. Importance of security and surveillance also can’t be undermined here, nor
can tools required in planning new
smart cities.

Build Solutions Step by Step: Rome was not built in a day and nor will smart cities. They will take time, effort and creative thinking, one step at a time. Quite a few interesting use cases of smart cities are already making rounds, in India and around the globe.

Interesting Use Cases: What if you had a mobile app that would tell you how crowded is a particular mall, movie theatre, restaurant, or other tourist attraction? It would save you the hassle of wasting time, energy, and fuel in going there, not finding a parking, and then returning home with a lousy experience.

What if you could upload a complaint about a broken lamp post or missing manhole cover or an accident in your area along with a photo from your mobile? And the complaint would automatically reach all concerned authorities. This complaint could then be tracked on a GIS based map of the city, with analytics, complaint trackers and escalation mechanisms to ensure that all complaints are handled in a timely manner. How about an electricity grid monitor that automatically notifies the authorities of the exact location of the faulty line so that you don’t face any more power cuts?

There are endless use cases of how technology can create smart cities, and everyone has a role to play in their success, be it the govt. or private sector, individual or organization.

Lastly, the key to building successful smart cities is integration and replication. Unless you integrate services together, they’ll not achieve their full potential, and if successful models are not replicated, then time will be wasted re-inventing wheels then moving forward.

We hope the new Modi govt. has some aggressive plans to use technology for building smart cities.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions on how technology usage can help build smart cities, then please send them to us at pcquest@cybermedia.co.in.

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