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India’s opportunity to build smart cities

In order to face the challenge of the rapid pace of urbanization, India needs to deploy its manpower and IT prowess, to build an affordable infrastructure that can create a smart city, and the same can be replicated across the globe. More people are moving to the cities in search of better job opportunities as well as a better lifestyle. The National Institution for Transforming India has predicted that the rate of urbanization in India will increase to 60% in the next 30 years, with the assumption that the rate of economic growth remains between 7-9%. 

With an ever increasing demand for assured electricity, affordable housing, clean drinking water and good governance, there lies a big challenge for the Government. To achieve the same, it is important for the cities to be adaptable and resilient. Each city should ensure a better quality of life for the citizens by using technology across all fronts, from the services and governance to the form of interaction with the citizens. Across the World, this is how smart cities have come into existence. India is in the process of rapid urbanization with its cities being big consumers of technology. This means greater opportunity for companies to develop products in India. With a large base of technology and manufacturing companies, India has an excellent ecosystem in place. This means, India can develop technology solutions that can address issues of cost and scale. India can also leverage information technology on a larger scale.

Various cities across the World have been transformed into smart cities with the use and adoption of right technology that helps in areas like water management, transportation, public safety, governance, healthcare and education. A smart city needs an interconnected system that can be fitted into the existing infrastructure. Further, city authorities need to use technology to make use of the data collected, analyze the same and predict possibilities based on the findings. This is the ideal way to plan a smart city.

However, the transition to a smart city has many challenges. Without adequate financial backing, it will be a difficult path ahead. Cities need to become financially sound and invest in capacity building of the teams. It is estimated that the first 100 smart cities in India will need an annual investment of Rs. 35,000 crore in the next 20 years. In addition, the roadmap will hinge on the collaboration between various authorities and lead to complexities. The agencies will have to work together for timely clearances enabled by online processes.

India is uniquely positioned to meet these challenges with the highest number of technical graduates in the World. India also has the third largest startup base in the world with about 4,750 startups. Together, the manpower and IT prowess can ensure that India can create a mass scale, flexible and affordable smart city infrastructure which can be replicated across the World. India no longer needs to be a witness to the larger cities with the latest standards for modern urban planning. 

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