India is experiencing unprecedented growth. In the next 20 years, 30 Indians will move every minute from rural India to the cities. To accommodate this massive urban migration, India will need about 500 new cities in the next 20 years.
Government, academic and business leaders need to quickly start demanding foresighted, comprehensive and enforceable city planning. Otherwise, cities will become stagnant oceans of poverty, choked by traffic congestion, and plagued by periodic health crises and recurring shortages of power, water and fuel.
Today, in New Delhi IBM hosted the Smarter Cities India Forum — the 6th edition in a series of Smarter Cities global events held previously in Berlin, New York City, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago and Shanghai. The forum brings together the brightest brains in the public & private sector, as well as best practices learned from cities from around the world facing similar challenges.
Urbanization is a source of great hope for India. People move to cities because cities provide much greater economic opportunity than rural areas. India’s cities already provide 62% of its gross domestic product. People collaborating can produce much more value than people do on their own. In cities any individual has a better chance of finding others who are willing to pay for his skills or his labor.
Check out what happened at the Smarter Cities India Forum throughout the day
This is part of a series on how India cities are transforming to become smarter.
How can we rein in the wrath of torrential rains, and be better prepared even before they strike havoc disrupting city life? Well, when heavy rains lash the cities, causing traffic snarls, hit train and other services, we are forced to venture out of inertia. It’s time to wear the thinking hat. Why can’t our cities get accurate and timely weather forecasts that matter? How are cities across the world dealing with such a scenario?
Consider this…Life in Mumbai was thrown out of gear as the city received the heaviest rainfall of the season. Many local trains were cancelled or delayed, major roads got submerged and citizens returning home or going to hospital got stranded on roads and in trains – causing much public agony. Citizens were caught unaware till they hit the roads, only to get stuck.
Is there a way technology could be leveraged to prevent such recurring incidents that causes widespread public agony? Can our cities weatherproof the day to day operations to avoid such disasters? It’s great to know how the weather is going to be in our city two days from now. But, what does it take to devise a system that can help better prepare to fight such emergency? The challenge is while traditional weather forecasting can predict general weather conditions with some accuracy, it doesn’t always give government agencies and utilities the kind of information they can take action on.
Smarter Cities are defined as cities that provide sustainable economic growth and enhanced quality of life by leveraging information to make better decisions, anticipating problems to resolve them proactively, and, coordinating resources and processes to operate effectively.
How can cities become Smart by leveraging what they have? What kind of investments do we need to build a transformed city? Often, the thrust is on the kind of investment that needs to be pumped in to start the journey. 1 Trillion USD? You guessed it wrong.
There is a common misconception that “Smart Cities” would need tons of IT investment. While this is a truth to reach the nirvana stage, our city leaders can take small actionable steps in the right direction to imbibe smartness. What is required is a systemic thinking and a governance mechanism to engage citizens and the available infrastructure with common-sense tools to start on the journey of smart. Typically, cities have the highest mobile density and broadband penetration, and it is very easy to put these technologies to use to make cities smarter.
A strong collective will to use our resources optimally, and create infinite value out of it, can begin the journey towards a transformed planet, And, all this can be achieved by the innovative applications of the existing technologies, and available resources. How do we attain that? This needs better synergy between the ecosystem of city planners, municipalities, public and private entities.
Driving our cities as engines of economic growth would require an integrated approach, coupled with instrumentation, interconnectedness and intelligence. The above may seem to suggest that there is a need for strong infrastructure and instrumentation on top of it, so that cities can be viewed as a system of systems and can be managed accordingly.
Consider this. What do we get when social business can be put to use for citizen government interactions? The low hanging fruits on the journey to become a smarter city.
Some of the following examples cite some interesting innovations and how social business can be harnessed in the journey to smart. Imagine a scenario where there is mobile app that allows people to take photo of energy meter readings and upload to the utilities company’s website. On one hand, the citizens get a monetary discount and on the other the utility company gets accurate readings without investing in foot soldiers.
Think of a scenario where there is an app that allows people to take photos of violations (of any kind – traffic, unauthorized power tapping, water leakages and so on), geo tag it and upload to a website. Apart from allowing for faster resolution, this allows to create a pressure point on the local administration based on the number of complaints that come from any specific area (e.g. ward).
Another scenario could be where the traffic police can seek feedback on proposed one way rules (which is aplenty in many cities) or seek feedback on how to decongest certain stretches.
Well, the possibilities are enormous, and endless are the opportunities – all it takes is thought leadership and some jugaad innovation. Few steps in the right direction will ignite citizen participation in governance and that can be a self-propelling machine that takes a city to smarter level. Are we ready?
Check out other ideas for progress at India Onward, an IBM India initiative.
After much talk, cloud computing is finally gaining traction in developed nations. Corporations are gradually moving more applications to cloud data centers where they can take advantage of pooling of computing resources, more efficient use of data processing power and increased flexibility. Of course, the cloud model is already standard for consumer-oriented social networking Web sites.
But the place where I see cloud computing having a transformational effect on societies and economies is in emerging markets. In places where money isn’t plentiful, the ability for companies, governments, and universities to share resources offers the opportunity to bring massive computing power to bear in ways that were not possible before.
One of the biggest opportunities will be in mobile services. Carriers will increasingly use clouds to develop innovative new services, launch them, and scale them up to handle millions of users–services such as banking and small-business listings. A First of a Kind collaborative research project announced today between IBM and the Indian state of Karnataka, home of Bengaluru, India’s Silicon Valley, demonstrates the opportunities that are unleashed when you combine clouds with mobile. Pay close attention. This could be the beginning of a technology revolution–and could lead to a social revolution, empowering the world’s poorest billions of people like never before.
Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by Sreenath Venkatesan, Vice President, Smarter Planet Solutions, IBM India/South Asia
Fast-paced urbanization and development of mega cities is considered a sure sign of prosperity. It suggests the workings of a robust economy, better opportunities, more jobs and more money to spend. Consulting firm McKinsey predicts that Indian cities will be in a position to create 70% of all new jobs over the next 20 years – jobs that will attract a significantly higher ratio of rural population into the cities.
Just goes to prove that cities are fast emerging as hubs of modernization and development across countries. In fact, world over, the urban population of developing countries is expected to rise from 35% (1990) to over 50% by 2020.
As our cities take on a greater role in the overall development of countries, the need for high quality infrastructure assumes added importance – in terms of making these urban clusters better prepared and equipped to deal with the burgeoning mass of people. However, this has not been the case with Indian cities, where infrastructure has grown at a slow pace compared to the influx of people. Considering that we live in a world of finite resources, problems arising due to scarcity of water, land, skills and energy resources are only going to multiply over time.
Smarter cites around the world are leveraging technology to optimize their resources and improve the efficiency of their infrastructure. For instance, Malta has implemented a smart grid system for monitoring and optimizing utilities like electricity and water. Singapore’s eSymphony transport system and the initiative by the Japanese city of Kitakyushu to implement a low-carbon emission society are other examples of how efficiencies have been created with the help of smarter systems.
Some of the cities have gone a step ahead to develop eco-friendly infrastructure for sustainable growth. Dubuque, for instance, has partnered with IBM to work on a comprehensive plan for green buildings and community design, healthy local food and protecting native plants and animals. Data collection technologies and analytics are also being used to create insights and take informed decisions.
These smarter cities are seeing value in partnering with technology companies with proven ability and experience in implementing projects of this magnitude. It not only helps derive greater value from such initiatives, but also allows the partners to better focus on their other welfare and development activities. Among the Indian cities, the Municipality of Mysore has partnered with Jamshedpur Utilities & Services Company (JUSCO) for improving its water supply management system.
Smart use of technology can go a long way in transforming a city’s core systems. It can help create an efficient transport management system, improve healthcare facilities and develop a robust communication network to connect all businesses, people and systems. Smart systems can also provide an efficient mechanism to control and manage the use of fast-depleting resources such as water, land and energy. By using finite resources in a smarter way, cities can boost innovation and productivity, thus achieving greater competitiveness. Cities built on smarter systems would be better equipped to survive and prosper in the new environment.
Do you recall any smarter city initiatives in your area? What is your take on city administrations spending money on developing smart systems to monitor and manage infrastructure instead of play ingthe catch up game? Is there a need for cities to partner with specialists in different areas (e.g. technology or water supply management) to deliver improved value to its citizens ?
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Frank Binnekade and Rajesh Subramanian, IBM experts supporting the travel and transportation industry in South Asia with consulting, software and services.
Getting caught in a traffic jam often brings out the worst in most of us. We blame bad drivers, poor roads, burgeoning traffic, absence of a mass rapid transport system and unbridled urbanization for the troubles we face while navigating a city road. While all these may have contributed to the urban road chaos, seldom do we stop to consider why things aren’t changing despite the vast amounts of money being invested in transport infrastructure.
For example, take the large Indian metros like Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata that have made huge investments in developing metro rail networks. Initiatives have been taken to modernise road infrastructure, improve the quality of public transport and introduce a variety of innovative features such as e-toll, emergency response system, bus rapid transport (BRT) corridors and metro networks.
According to a World Bank report, the density of India’s highway network (0.66) is similar to that of the United States (0.65) and much greater than that of China (0.16) or Brazil (0.20). Therefore, it seems that building new roads and adding infrastructure has not helped significantly.
Besides increasing traffic congestion, the urban areas are also faced with several other transport-related problems such as increasing emission of pollutants and depleting fuel resources that adversely impact the overall wellbeing of any major city. Studies have shown that an effective transport system is important for a city’s economic competitiveness and severe congestion is known to have a negative impact on GDP.
To make transport management more effective, several cities across the world are trying to build intelligence into existing systems. Transport management systems and software tools have been effective to curtail traffic woes around some mega cities of the world. A smart traffic system helped Stockholm cut gridlock by 20 per cent, reduce emissions by 12 per cent and increase public transportation use dramatically. In London, a congestion management system lowered traffic volume to the mid-1980s levels. The system in Singapore can predict traffic speeds with nearly 90 per cent accuracy. With future enhancements, the system will help predict—rather than merely monitor—other traffic conditions as well.
Although Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) have been around for a long time, the new generation of solutions offer features like traffic prediction, analytics and decision support, traveller information, advisory services, ticketing and fare collection. Innovative tools such as roadside sensors, radio frequency tags and global positioning systems also help monitor and manage transport more effectively.
For example, traffic prediction helps multi-modal planning whereby transport services can be integrated to provide seamless and efficient movement of people. Analytics and decision support helps in continuous, system-wide performance measurement that helps provide optimal solutions to a city’s dynamic transport needs. Providing integrated ticketing and fare collection enhances commuter comfort by integrating rail, bus and parking fares.
Sustained research across cities has revealed that an intelligent transport system is much more than just discrete software solutions. It is about adopting customer-centric approaches that create a shift in their attitudes to cost, value and use of transport systems. That is why leading cities worldwide are using these technologies to implement transport strategies and create holistic transport solutions that address three key strategies: governance, transport network optimization and integrated transport services.
This is where transport maturity models come in handy as they can assess a city’s programs. Each city has a different implementation path based on its unique starting position and the priorities it sets out thereafter. Cities can benchmark their ITS strategies to the transport maturity model adopted by IBM to ascertain current progress and compare it with global leading practices. It can also be used to validate their strategies and develop an ITS implementation roadmap.
As technologies mature and local administrations become more experienced in optimizing their value, one can expect more and more cities to adopt these global practices. Of course, cities can learn from others’ experiences and accelerate their own programs for smart transportation.
Traffic management has been a challenge in India and continues to become more difficult with every passing day. It cannot be addressed only by constructing new roads, bridges and underpasses. The solution lies in taking an integrated approach to traffic management and leveraging advanced technologies and intelligent solutions.
Share your ideas on what can help address the growing traffic chaos?
Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by Dr. Manish Gupta, Chief Technologist, IBM India/South Asia and Director, IBM Research – India
Last week I watched the first episode of a TV series, Ecopolis, on Discovery Channel. The program identifies technology based solutions that will help cities manage the crushing pressure on their resources in the next forty years. The situation in Indian cities is perhaps more pressing.
All of us living in Indian cities experience the pressures of a massively burgeoning population on an inadequate infrastructure. Our metro cities were built at a time when their phenomenal growth could not have been foreseen so the gap between demand and supply for civic services and utilities continues. While there are ways to improve the condition in established cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, and Delhi (which continue to grow at a significant pace), newer cities are surely better placed in terms of building a futuristic, highly scalable infrastructure that can cope with rapid urban proliferation. The right combination of technology and urban policy can lead to far more streamlined urban systems that make a difference to quality of life in our cities of tomorrow.
The IBM Institute for Business Value has published an executive report titled “A vision of smarter cities: how cities can lead the way into a prosperous and sustainable future”. The paper takes a systems view of a city and we see an interplay of the following systems – city services, citizens, business, transport, communication, water and energy. A city services system constitutes the operational activities and coordination of service delivery provided by the municipalities, while the citizens system covers public safety, health and education. A city’s business system refers to the environment that businesses face in terms of policy and regulation. Cities offer citizens and businesses the ability to move things around through their transport systems and share ideas and information through their communication systems. Cities also offer two core utilities necessary for all economic and social activity – water and energy.
If we hope to prepare our cities for explosive urbanization, we need to put existing ones on a journey of becoming ‘smart’ and envision the new emerging towns to leapfrog to a state of optimized urban systems. “Smart” cities know how to transform their systems and optimize the use of finite resources. To help drive efficiency and increase effectiveness they leverage technology to make systems instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent.
Take a basic utility like water. Smart cities are able to connect several independent systems to create datasets that allow the analysis of the volume of sewage from homes and business against the volume of water coming in from ground water or rainfall. Problem areas can be quickly targeted for detailed inspection. This process helps improve the efficiency of sewer systems and reduce environmental impact. Another pressure point is road infrastructure. And when physical infrastructure upgrades go hand-in-hand with an intelligent data system the results can be quite impressive. For example the implementation of Free Flow Tolling in Brisbane yielded a six fold increase in vehicle capacity on a particular motorway, reduced traffic time by up to 10 minutes, reduced traffic incidents by 27% and allows the authorities to provide real time alerts to travelers about congestion, construction, and accidents before they reach the affected area.
India’s urban areas spew 70% of the country’s carbon emissions, out of which 40% is a result of vehicles. Can we design our traffic systems in a way that results in less congestion, and in turn, reduce pollution and minimize greenhouse emissions?
Economic development and responsibility to the environment can and must go hand in hand. India has an over dependence on coal and petroleum based fuels for energy generation. Alternative and renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power are critical to making India energy self sufficient as well as reducing environmental side effects from power generation. The need of the hour is a collaborative approach – involving both the government and public sector – that supports the development of clean and green energy. The government plays an important role by forming supportive policies and enabling entrepreneurial initiatives.
You’ll surely agree that at the rate urbanization is exploding, the problems that megacities of the future will face will be multiples of those we face today. It is time to act. The floor is open for your thoughts and opinions. I look forward to seeing your views on issues related to transport, energy, waste management, food, water and greener buildings.
Editor’s Note: Following is a post from Andy Bochman, a smart grid security expert from IBM, and a new contributor to the Smarter Planet blog.
Whether it’s to do with price volatility, supply uncertainty or climate change, countries achieve greater energy security when they reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and begin to replace them with a combination of energy efficiency measures and renewable power sources.
In developed countries, to support greatly increased use of renewables and capture efficiency savings in the transmission and distribution of electricity requires an update to aging power grids – to arrive at a destination now commonly referred to as the Smart Grid.
What do I mean by “aging”? In North America, some of our electrical infrastructure assets (not to mention human assets) are over 50 years old, and one can find equipment (and humans running grid systems) of a similar vintage in Europe and other fully developed regions as well.
But in emerging and rapidly developing countries like China, India and Brazil, lots of infrastructure is being built from scratch, with modern equipment that’s IT and IP enabled and based upon recently formed and forming interoperability standards.
What’s a security guy think about this? This is a huge opportunity for baking security in from the get-go, yielding the fielding of secure grid systems, as well as for costs savings realized from not having to bolt security on later on. They don’t have to recapitulate all the tortuous intermediate phases the US is going through trying to add security to systems that were never designed to accommodate it.
There’s no denying these markets are taking steps. Today IBM announced it has developed a new technology, now piloted with Shanghai Power (part of China’s State Grid, the largest utility in the world), to help energy companies manage power outages more effectively. Since the project’s completion, Shanghai Power’s sale of electricity has increased by 50 million kWh per month, which is equal to an incremental revenue of 35 million Yuan (US$5.1 million) a month.
And move across the map to South Korea… IBM also announced its involvement in a renewable energy management system on Jeju Island, part of a smart grid project in South Korea that is moving right along.
These are only two example that show how systems are being built and modified to withstand the energy demand and need for efficiency we no doubt face.
Regarding security the choice is in their (these countries’) hands. IBM can help them achieve more secure solutions with its Secure by Design frameworks. But it’s up to them to decide that’s how they want to be. It’s nice to know to it’s possible.