Coping with the challenges
At present, a lot of IT infrastructure is coming up at the back end which definitely becomes a larger concern for the Government to manage. Unless you have a clear visibility in terms of where the problem is into the IT environment, there’s no way we can manage, which ultimately becomes the biggest challenge. Whether it is power, garbage disposal or anything else you look at, everything will be provided as a smart service for which a number of sensors are going to come. It’s very important to understand how this entire IT scenario functions. Due to the application trend today, everybody wants to look at managing their IT environment efficiently. Moreover, security of data is also a major concern which should be looked after by the functionaries concerned.
ULBs in limelight
Today, ‘smart’ is a buzzword. With the launch of the Smart City mission, everybody is talking about smart governance, smart buildings, smart infrastructure, etc. However, what we need to understand is that smart would also mean inclusiveness, because there has to be one pan-city smart solution which will cater to the needs of all. We also want smaller urban local bodies (ULBs) to become smart. Even before the Smart City mission, we had some initiatives as we tried to provide online citizen services with transparency and efficiency. For instance, property tax collection is a work of the ULBs, but given the political set up in which we work, it’s not easy to increase rate of taxation. Nevertheless, a better way of doing this is improving the taxation base which we were able to do using GIS mapping.
AISECT, headquartered in Bhopal, is one of the biggest education networks of India. It is a 9001:2008 certified organisation and over 20,000 of its branches are operational in India. The Institute is running engineering and management-related courses, along with imparting skill-development training to youth under eGovernance programme. Throwing light on digital empowerment of citizens, it would enable people to avail all basic services through Internet. According to a study, MP has a scarcity of vocational training institutes that can impart training to only 2.5 lakh youth per year, which is not enough. We have to promote the IT sector among the young generation to invoke their interest in the field. Moreover, there are two categories of skill development—organised and unorganised sectors. In an organised sector, we have to set up e-learning centres at the school, college and university levels. Similarly, in the unorganised sector, the Government should train youth at the village and district levels and training must be imparted to make them smart enough to get jobs.
IT is the Heart of a Smart City
There are five major points which I would like to highlight on why there is a need for Smart Cities today. The first and most important thing is to overcome the lack of development which is there in our cities, and we want to be in line with the latest trends and cities that are doing better than us. The second thing is that we want to ensure excellent connectivity, while the third is digital infrastructure as a utility and fourth is governance and lastly comes the digital empowerment of citizens. So, unless these things are there, we can’t really say that a city is smart. There is a lot of real-time database which needs to be analysed. Information infrastructure is the heart of any smart city. There are three different pillars— devices, network information infrastructure and data centre, where all the analytics take place. Once we have these three pillars in place, we can have any of the smart services running on it.
Aviation will make cities smart
The existence of a Smart City is not possible without smart aviation or smart transport. We can’t imagine a smart city without having an excellent aviation sector. In India, per person per capita number of flights per annum is 0.4 of the United States of America. Further, in terms of number of passengers, India is the world’s ninth largest aviation market. It is expected that by 2025, India will be ranked number three globally. Also, a few States like Odisha and MP have urged the Ministry that global carriers should touch Indore, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar and other small cities’ airports. However, the real question is why even domestic airlines are not interested in commencing operations from small cities. The state governments have to undertake some initiatives to promote aviation in their respective states. In some states, aviation turbine fuel (ATF) costs are as high as 20 to 30 per cent and even in some cases, it is 40-45 per cent higher than the costs of ATF in the neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, Dubai and Indonesia.