Smart villages make smart cities

The concept of building new smart cities and restructuring existing ones has been accepted as a means of growth and economic development for countries. The ideal smart city would be a place that is self-sustaining, environmentally friendly and technologically advanced. India has a huge population and a majority of this number (around 68% as per Census of India statistics) live in rural areas. Constant efforts must be made to bridge the gap between the urban and rural areas. Rural development is crucial, after all cities are an extension of villages. Rural development implies economic betterment of people and therefore is needed for social transformation. This can be achieved if we make our villages smart. To make ‘smart villages’ it is necessary to involve rural people in development programmes. Mahatma’s vision: Mahatma Gandhi had visualized smart villages a long time ago. He believed that a village should be self-sustaining and have everything from food, water, education, sanitation, cloth, electricity, roads, and places of worship, health care, transport, houses, industries and employment. While smart villages hold plenty of promise, challenges go hand in hand. Smart-village solutions would have to be customized according to requirements and strengthened to deal with problems to make them viable. To be able to do so we need to actually look into the various problems of most villages. Some of them are lack of funds, housing, sanitation, electricity, potable water, pastures for grazing cattle, primary and secondary schools, lack of employment, roads and lack of technology. Information regarding government policies has not been adequately disseminated to the rural youth for them to be able to actually utilize the facilities provided by the government.   Few steps in this direction As a solution to the above mentioned issues India, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has taken quite a few strides in this direction and has initiated special schemes and allocated funds for the various schemes that will assist in the making of smart cities and smart villages. The information and broadcasting department has planned to increase FM radio coverage from the current 45% to 65% approximately in the next couple of years (around 2.5 to 3 years). This will be achieved by using the existing cell towers and installing digital FM transmitters. A smart move in the right direction. An example of smart solution customized to the scale and requirements of the place. India being largely an agrarian economy can take advantage of foreign direct investment (FDI). According to the announcement made by the government, 100% (FDI) will be allowed through the Foreign Investment Promotion Board route for marketing of food products that are produced and manufactured in India. When productivity in agriculture increases and surplus is accumulated it opens up the prospects of manufacturing and food processing. If the rural Continue Reading

Making smart city a reality of today

Population rise all over the world had led to a remarkable shift from the rural to the urban areas. The existing urban population is growing at an alarming rate which calls for urgent action. One of the major moves made by the governments and institutions the world over is the creation of smart cities. Smart cities would evolve as self-sustaining units that are ecologically friendly. With the advancement in technology we are better equipped and making smart cities can therefore become a reality. India has a vision of creating 100 smart cities. These cities would attract investments. So how can existing cities be made smart? Proper planning and services being the crux of the issue, the government has plans to invest huge sums of money over the next five years. The state government would also provide assistance and thereby contribute in the physical infrastructure (energy, buildings, water, waste, mobility and ICT) and the social infrastructure (education, health and recreation facilities) But the government alone cannot make smart cities. There are numerous challenges that need to be overcome and hence it is only by engaging citizens can we overcome these problems. Citizens make the city. Sensitizing citizens towards the global/ country/state/ immediate geographical environmental problems would go a long way into developing of these smart cities. Citizens should be engaged in identifying the challenges surrounding their vicinity and be encouraged to develop and plan solutions, smart solutions. What has the government planned? Smart city mission Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) Housing for all in urban areas These missions are focussed on the need to improve the quality of life for citizens today and to enable a brighter, cleaner, healthier future for generations to come. The ratio of land and the number of people residing on it known as density of population is a crucial factor to be looked into. Land is a precious resource and we have to use it to its optimum. We have to make do with the amount of land we have. This is where we bring in the vital issue of making smart villages. Lack of opportunities in terms of education, finance, medical assistance and jobs have led to a continuous stream of people migrating from the rural areas to the urban areas. This in turn has an impact on the already existing urban challenges. If we could focus, plan and implement missions for the villages, we could, to a large extent be able to control the influx of immigration. Preventing the immigration does not mean eliminating the rural population from the schema of smart cities. This is where we could actually use technology and bridge the gap. Technology today is making it possible to link up to the remotest corners of the world. Some of suggestive measures that would go into making of smart cities are as follows: City administration needs to be revamped. The municipal Continue Reading

Smart city from concept to action

‘Necessity is the mother of invention’, and the need for smart cities was also born of the same idea in a broader sense. What was the necessity? The accelerated growth of urbanization brought along challenges like shortages of power, shortages of potable water, unregulated and chaotic traffic, growth of slums, creation of garbage dumps, lack of transportation facilities, pressure and subsequent break down of civic services, and many other connected ills that needed to be addressed promptly. Smart cities being one of the objectives that could help overcome these challenge if dealt with timely, and in a planned manner. So what is the definition of a smart city? There is no precise definition of the term ‘smart city’. A city can be defined as smart when it fulfils the need of a high quality life with the help of modern technology. How can a high quality life be achieved? A high quality life calls for investments in human and social capital combined with communication infrastructure (transport and ICT) to sustain economic development with wilful, wise and optimum management of all available resources. Human capital + social capital + communication infrastructure + wise management of all available resources → high quality life What is human capital? Human capital includes the knowledge and skills gathered by people through formal and informal learning. What is social capital? Social capital is the network of relationships built through meaningful interactions between people, the society’s goodwill, which creates a cohesive society thus enabling the society to function effectively. The network of relationship and goodwill is based on trust, respect and concern for each other. Human capital when combined with social capital, facilitates rapid learning and use of these skills and knowledge. What does learning provide? Learning (information technology) provides the necessary platform/pillar for further action as it encourages informed decision making from commonly identified parameters for each stage that goes into the making of a smart city. What is the role of Information technology? By Information technology we understand it to mean, Information technology, based on a combination of telecommunication network, internet, wireless broadband, and other sensor networks with IoT (Internet of Things) at its core that will be instrumental in the development of a smart city. So what is Internet of Things? Put simply, it is about using various sensors and connecting them to the internet for communication and exchange of information to achieve intelligent recognition in order to locate, track, monitor and manage the various components of a smart city. This may sound simple but it is a problem that requires a great deal of study/work before it can actually be put to use on a large scale network. Although sensors are being used in various industries up to a certain extent. What must be done to overcome these Continue Reading