DailyPost 1879

The dream sequence can happen now, if we work for it.  98 smart cities, big, medium and small, spread across the length and breadth of this country, having state of art control rooms, churning out data in real time and that data getting collated and integrated, on pre-decided business logic in a National Integrated Smart City Database. It certainly has to be a natural corollary to a project, which has a vision to redefine what is urban in India and what a urban dweller can expect out of this grandiose urban transformation project. The whole idea of smart is that one unit can finally culminate in seamless data at utility level, city and finally at the national level.

Moving from our old-style local self-governments to modern day smart city companies has been one of biggest administrative transformations of our times. There are lots of infrastructural works which are happening as a part of an integrated blueprint and as per a timeline. Retrofitting lots of areas, utilities and works is bound to happen and is also in process. Our cities cannot be and should not be end to end greenfield projects. Our cities have grown in silos and the local self-governments and the utilities have been on their own; when the physical arena itself at times it is a war zone, who is bothered about the data, and anyway what can you do with that data.

Whether the Smart City Control Rooms have been devised to monitor operations, react and respond on their own, work as super-efficient call centers because they have everything under their command and also at their beck and call only or they are on futuristic data mode as well, only the time will tell. This will decide its final utility and value and the capability to elevate the nature of urban life, which it has promised. What data are these control rooms already providing for planning from a regular conventional planning to the day to day improvements and dynamic responses? Has free availability of data improved the quality of the utility? Has the masters been created wherever required and has legacy data found its place in the scheme of things. Only these aspects can provide you reference, correlation and measured improvement.

What is not measured is not done is one part of the story, the other part is what is being done with the data thus created. Patterns, co-relations and predictability will only come from that data. If followed over time, with expenditure data also factored in, it can do wonders. Even the performance of the officers can be calculated without human intervention. The utility of utilities in delivering their mandated services can also be put up on a rating. The possibilities are endless, if we want to. Planning and follow up will automatically reach super human level. This is at the level of one city, if all 98 of them are dealt in the same manner with a tool called National Integrated Smart City Database, dynamic and real time in nature besides with all other attributes and impacts discussed, then we are *surely at the cusp of an urban transformation.


Sanjay Sahay

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