What really are Smart Cities

We were having a discussion about what really are smart cities. Popular understanding was that smart cities are all about sprinkling a lot of sensors across the city to collect a lot of information about various activities that are going on in the City like cars travelling on the roads and people using mobile phones to interact with each other using the telecommunication networks.
However reality is very different from what is being depicted. Amazing part of the Smart City is not really the technology that it is getting implemented but the process improvements that are planned by the Urban Development municipalities. It is also in the ways that e-Governance and public utilities are being rolled out to the citizens of this residential places that really matters. At the end who doesn’t really want they live to be hassle free and get access to all the services like applying for a new phone connection applying for public utility services, again applying for an Internet connection, applying for driving licence, maybe when applying for certificates like educational certificate, birth certificate, and death certificates.  the next phase would be rolling out the services in a way that they can really be utilise time effectively by the citizens.
Again Another major concern is how the natural resources are getting utilised. This would mean evaluating the consumption pattern of resources like electricity water and air  which are  inseparable components  of the natural ecosystem of the citizens in the Smart City. This is where sensors like light sensing Technologies which automatically switch on the light when it is dark and switch it off when it is brighter using natural lights, can play a  role. Again it should be interesting to understand that preservation of natural resources like water is of utmost importance. Both grey water harvesting and white water harvesting processes and technologies need to mature to really get the best benefit of such endeavours. Water is a very valuable resource that only gets recognised when it is not available in plenty as and when needed. So preservation of water resources needs to be given at most priority.
Further air pollution is increasing in becoming a problem  urban settlements.  More and more buses and cars creating a problem in the air pollution of any urban settlements.  while key to economic prosperity and development is a high quality transportation network and system, in a Smart City, such transportation systems need also to be green to preserve the air quality. Traffic management and air quality management through systemic monitoring and intervention whenever needed is of utmost importance.
Further facilities like hospitals and educational institutions both for Primary education and Secondary And Higher Education needs to be built throughout the cities which will take care of accessibility issues to such public utilities. In fact such an urban settlement needs to have hospitals and nursing homes within the proximity of every accommodation within a radius of 6 kilometres and schools and colleges within a radius of 8 kilometres. Marketing facilities like access to daily necessities should also be within an area of 2 to 3 kilometres. This will provide the basic platform for accessing daily frequency public utilities and services which will also create economic welfare. For that it is to be noted that economic stability and ICT usage needs to be promoted by the government not only by training in the  usage of Information and Communication Technologies but also in the creation of economic wealth through the utilisation of the network of the knowledge economy. Economic productivity and intellectual capital productivity utmost importance from such Smart Residents in smart cities.
The spirit of entrepreneurship cannot be ignored economic welfare and socio economic disparities are  to be addressed. Entrepreneurship needs to be promoted more strongly by the government and the cost of setting up a new commercial Enterprise needs to be made much easier and cheaper both in terms of lower time and lower financial cost.  The ease of starting a new business need to really go up drastically to promote entrepreneurship and economic productivity. Transparency in the processes would be much appreciated.
Last but not the least the actual Governance of urban facilities need to undergo a radical change. There is too much of a gap between policy formulation and implementation of strategies.  Policy formulation cannot be in isolation from the ground realities and needs of the people who are delivering the services on the ground as well as the needs of the people what consuming these services.

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