India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set some very ambitious plans for the country for the next few years. One of these plans involves building over 100 smart cities across India. According to Modi’s ambitious plans, these smart cities would act as potential hubs for foreign investment and would contribute to India’s large-scale economic growth in the coming years.
However, a plan of building a smart city is nowhere near to actually building the city itself. If Modi wants his plans to see the light of day, he would need to carefully consider the following criteria that needs to be met by the proposed smart cities.
Fit Cities :
Smart cities should first concentrate on getting fit by taking care of issues related to governance, finance and e-governance. They should set and follow policies aimed at utilizing the available technologies efficiently as well as improve service delivery in order to provide an enhanced quality of life for residents.
Economically Driven Cities:
A smart city should be economically driven rather than technology driven. Opting for the latter would result in a city that has the technology but no clear plans for the future. This in turn would impact the planned sustainability and community wide change one would expect of a smart city. Hence, a smart city must first set clear goals and plans for economic growth in terms of productivity, sustainability and resilience first. Only then would it be able to use the technology aptly to reach these goals.
One of the major hurdles a smart city would face involves facing several institutional issues like rotating civil servants, overlapping authorities and multiple agencies that handle the same projects. These issues fail to create a systematic cooperation and coordination to achieve even the simplest of tasks related to growth and economic development.
Hence, a smart city would need to appoint a chief city executive from the government who would act a single point of contact for all major decisions regarding its development. The executive would facilitate the development of coordinated investments and plans between the multiple agencies in order to aid in the city’s overall economic growth.
Lack of skilled manpower is a raging issue in India. This could seriously deter the development of smart cities. As such, the need arises for the development of a world-class institution that would bring together academicians, field experts, private/public stakeholders and the civil society to harness talent wherever possible in order to reduce this manpower deficit. This institution would also aid in highlighting the best features of each constituency it deals with, thus using all these features for the development of a strong, resilient and sustainable smart city.
Local Resources and Talents:
A smart city must be developed using local talent and resources rather than relying on foreign involvements. As such, any foreign investment in these cities would be propelled towards developing the country’s own technology and innovation community. This would in turn, promote the development of more India based firms that would have their roots in India and then expand to international destinations. These firms can then work along with foreign investors to build and maintain the smart cities efficiently.
Modi’s plans of developing over 100 smart cities can be considered phenomenal for the nation’s growth. However, these plans would see the light of day only if the issues mentioned above are sorted out first.