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Do We Really Need Smart Cities?
October 08 2023

Achievers GDPI Workshop: Concept Builder

Topic: Do we really need Smart Cities?

Definition – A city can be defined as ‘smart’ when investments in human and social capital and traditional (transport) and modern (ICT) communication infrastructure fuel sustainable economic development and a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources, through participatory action and engagement

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Background –

  • It is expected that in India, by 2050, 70% of the population lives in cities. But the present cities are not capable to accommodate the growing migrants. 500 new cities are needed by then according to futurologists. To address this challenge, Government of India launched ‘Smart cities Mission’ in 2015.
  • 98 cities were selected under this project. And these cities will be developed as smart cities in 5 years duration. In the first stage, 20 cities were selected for the financial year 2015-16. For the next two years, 40 and 38 cities respectively will be included in the mission.
  • Approximate budget for this mission is 1 lakh crore rupees. Center will provide 48,000 crores in the next five years and respective state Government will provide another 48,000 crores. On top of this, investments will be provided through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model.

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Pros –

  • Good infrastructure – The main aim of constructing a smart city is to provide good infrastructure to the residents, such as water and sanitation services, 24*7 electricity supply etc.
  • Smart solutions – Smart cities are required as it would also provide smart solutions such as providing public data, electronic service delivery, 100% treatment of water waste, monitoring water quality etc.
  • Promotes development – Smart cities enhance the developmental activities of a region. A lot of developmental activities such as building schools, organizations, shopping malls can take place. These activities benefit everybody including citizens, businesses, government and environment.
  • Housing for All – The main aim of a smart city is “housing for all”. Due to the rising urbanization, a better standard of living is required. To support this rising shift, a sustainable model of housing should be developed.
  • Provides employment – A smart city is an economy of agglomeration. It provides various opportunities and advantages to its residents. India is expanding rapidly and the emergence of smart city can provide employment for many. The construction of a smart city requires a lot of manpower.

Cons –

  • Smart cities initiative will develop the already developed cities but not the poor villages. Instead of looking at solutions to accommodate the migrants from rural areas, it’s better to look at the solutions to increase the employment opportunities at villages.
  • Huge investment may make the life in smart cities more costly and unaffordable to many. Gated communities may develop there, which makes it a rich people zone. This can encourage slums.
  • As everything is integrated with technology, there will be data collection putting privacy at risk.
  • Too much dependence on digitalization can make us vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
  • PPP model has failed in many cases. Relying on it is risky.
Rahul Singh

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