Growing population and rapid urbanisation is causing governments to rethink management of cities and the available resources. It is expected that by 2025, 60 percent of the total world population will be living in the urban areas1. At such a rate, governments will have a daunting task of providing everyone with food, water, clean air, living space, law and order, and other important services for the sustenance of a quality life for citizens and businesses. It has become imperative for governments to think about making the cities greener and more efficient.
This need has given rise to smart cities that are technologically advanced in terms of effectively managed real estate, overall infrastructure, market viability and communications.
Let us start by asking – What makes a city smart?
A smart city focuses primarily on three areas - leveraging information to make better decisions, anticipating and solving problems proactively, and coordinating resources to operate more efficiently.
According to me, a smart city should effectively use advanced technology and analytics to encourage participatory governance by empowering the citizens to connect with the government through:
- Online feedbacks and grievances
- Demand for transparency in operations and fund allocations
- E-payment of government taxes and duties
- Ease of participating in government surveys
- Easy setup of business establishments or registrations
By making government more connected with its citizens, businesses, employees and other government bodies, a smart city allows the government:
- Better monitoring, data collection, and processing of information
- Effective collection of revenue, and improved compliance regulatory environment
- Conducive business environment that brings in more investment and employment
- Extend public and social services to all classes of people
- Effective urban planning and prevent illegal construction
Greater connectivity also allows for collection of relative data and enables advanced analytics to draw valuable insights that can help governments save billions, foresee epidemics, prevent law and order situations, control pollution and more. According to Juniper's latest report, Smart Cities: Strategies, Energy, Emissions & Cost Savings 2014-2019, smart grid initiatives will achieve $10.7 billion savings annually by 2019 through a combination of reduced energy consumption and emissions reductions in smart cities. The reduced emissions are equivalent to those produced by the annual consumption of 130 million barrels of oil2.
Thus, a smart city with an efficient government, can install environment-friendly applications, bring greater and well-organised mobility, improve health services, increase connectivity, operate transparent governance and promote economic prowess.
Does your city have it all? Share with us you views and experience.