Smart Elements project has been one of the flagship pan-city initiatives of the Smart Cities Mission which the city of Pune has undertaken. The project is up and running. We are in the process of tying up the loose ends to make the whole process robust, says Manojit Bose, Chief Knowledge Officer, Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited (PSCDCL) in conversation with Harshal Desai of Elets News Network (ENN).
How do you perceive the concept of Smart Cities Mission and its relevance for India?
If we look at the challenges resulting from urbanisation, be it in India and also where there is need to table these challenges on priority, Smart City concept is an important and a very relevant way of approaching and addressing this problem.
What was your idea behind developing Pune as a Smart City?
Why is Pune leading the Mission? The whole idea of conceptualisation with extra focus on implementation and execution along with leadership support from various stakeholders has largely been instrumental in helping Pune in retaining its position. Pune was ranked No. 2 when the first list of cities was announced in the Smart Cities Mission. We have continued to be amongst the top cities and hope to do well in the future as well.
What experiences have helped you in making Pune Smart?
I have been involved in Smart Cities’ journey lmost from the very beginning. Ever since the announcement was made in the budget and pretty much that followed in the days to come, I have been involved in one way or the other in some capacity. That gave me a very different context and perspective to the Mission. Earlier also, I was involved in driving digital initiatives with the Government which also included the Urban Local Bodies. I have been able to leverage on those experiences and have tried to add value to the Smart Cities Mission in Pune as well.
Can you brief us about the projects that have been completed or will be completed soon?
The Smart Elements project has been one of the flagship Pan-City projects, the city of Pune has undertaken. The project is up and running. We are in the process of tying up the loose ends to make the whole process robust including planning for a very exhaustive technology audit to ensure compliance with some of the best national and international best practices. Pune is the first Smart City in the country to take such an effort. Also, what distinguishes Pune from other Smart Cities is our focus on building up an ecosystem of partners which include institutes of academic excellence, research and applied research and niche technology companies in areas like Internet of Things, Cloud and Artificial Intelligence. The Smart Cities Mission 2.0 is going to be all about data and we want to be ready for that.
What is that one particular project that you are really proud of?
There are several such projects on the infrastructure side. We have great initiatives like Placemaking, street re-design etc. Public Bicycle Sharing which we launched recently has been our successful initiative because we integrated the whole project with the citizens. Smart Elements is another very smart initiative. The beauty of this initiative is the unified view of the city which the Command and Control Centre will provide and we are working on top of that to provide cross-functional use cases and analytics which will provide insights to the leadership of the city which was not available till now. We have also set up a subsidiary – Pune Idea Foundation Factory (PIFF), which will be the engineto drive innovations in the city.
How have you integrated the rich culture of Pune while implementing various Smart City projects?
At every step we have been involving the citizens and cocreating the entire Smart Cities experiences for them. In fact, the Smart City plan was developed in consultation with the citizens. Pune was one of those cities which has the highest extent of citizens involvement. We have continued with that tradition till today. We take their feedback and imbibe those when implementing those projects. The cultural elements get incorporated in the conceptualisation stage itself. We are also trying to bring in some technology led interventions in areas like tourism.
What are your plans for riverfront development?
It is an ambitious project. The discussions are on with the various stakeholders. Very soon, we will have a concrete plan.
What Smart health initiatives have you started?
We are looking at some of the emerging technologies in healthcare and few other areas. Those technologies will be used to solve some of the chronic healthcare and related problems which afflict the cities and the citizens. It will also solve the problem of accessibility of the healthcare.