By Prashant Pradhan
India is a dynamic nation of extreme contrasts. As the second most populated country in the world, Indian cities are facing unprecedented growth in population due to rapid urbanization. Imagine this, every minute during the next 20 years, 30 Indians will leave rural India to settle in urban areas.
At this pace, 350 million Indians will move to cities by 2030. The accelerated pace of urbanization in Indian cities is evident and the time to plan for this mass migration is now.
To tackle the challenges posed by rapid urbanization, the Indian Government announced an investment of $ 1.2 billion to build 100 smart cities. India will need new cities to accommodate this urbanization and its existing cities need to become more efficient and smarter.
Recently, IBM India hosted a Smarter Cities roundtable at the ClientCenter in New Delhi to discuss “100 Smart Cities: from Concept to Execution.” Eminent forward thinkers, policy makers and business leaders came together to lend valuable insights to convert the smarter city vision into a reality.
The key to drive the smart city vision from concept to execution is to develop a combination of greenfield cities from the ground up while also modernizing the infrastructure in existing cities. When it comes to greenfield smarter cities, the constraints of legacy infrastructures are minimal. The Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor is an excellent example of this kind of approach where 24 new cities will be built from the ground up along the corridor.
Likewise Palava City is a new greenfield community envisioned to become the largest ever private, completely planned development in urban India. In contrast, the smarter city approach of modernizing existing cities involves complexities such as legacy infrastructure. In most cases, redevelopment and modernizing an already populous city would involve significant disruption in city operations, but it can be done.
Whether developing a new city or modernizing an existing city, smarter cities must increasingly rely on technology, smart infrastructure, streamlined processes and improved governance. Cities of all sizes can benefit by using big data analytics, cloud and mobile to gather insights and transform their systems and deliver better services to citizens from high speed telecommunications to waste management. Core foundational capabilities like big data analytics, systems of citizen engagement and sharing of investments, resources and expertise will help India realize its vision.
This is an exciting time for India, the accelerated pace of urbanization is expected to continue in the coming decades and IBM is proud to be involved in many smart city projects already underway.
In order to achieve sustainable growth and economic prosperity the mandate for smarter cities is clear and immediate. The greenfield approach to building Smarter Cities as well as the effort to bring new intelligence to existing cities ensures India is well positioned for new development opportunities in the future.
Lead photo by Rob de Wit.