Smart cities have already moved beyond plans to real-life demos in India. This was the message that came through loud and clear at the 17th Express Technology Sabha in Hyderabad.
Speaking at the glittering awards function, which capped the event, Parakala Prabhakar, advisor (communications), who holds the status of a Cabinet minister in the government of Andhra Pradesh, explained the process through which the new state was putting this into practice. The event is scheduled to be telecast on CNBC TV 18 at 5 pm on March 8 (with a repeat telecast on March 15).
Harnessing the fantastic options that are available technologically with the pragmatism necessary for an administrator to implement them, Prabhakar said city building has become one of the key deliverables of the state government. In his keynote address, he also did not forget to mention that reading The Indian Express was a good habit. “I read The Indian Express regularly. It is a habit that I have got used to over many years,” he said.
His comments were made to a packed audience at the tech city comprising experts from the government and India’s best technology companies and analysts from top-tier consulting firms. The theme they were deliberating on was the task of re-imagining Indian cities.
The tone for the deliberations was set on the first day with a conversation between the creator of India’s first smart city at Vishakhapatnam, J Satyanarayana, a Cabinet rank adviser to the N Chandrababu government of Andhra Pradesh (electronics and IT), and Dr Isher Judge Ahluwalia, who must be ranked as India’s first evaluator of smart city projects. The author of Postcards of Change, the pioneering series carried in The Indian Express and The Financial Express, engaged the adviser on the challenges that building the new cities would entail.
Describing her interpretation of “smart cities as the new frontier in digital governance”, Ahluwalia said “Governments have to build a public-private partnership model for making smart city projects work. IT is a powerful tool that can provide the quantum jump necessary for city administrations to keep pace with the rising income and aspirations of a young population so characteristic of Indian cities.”
At the event, the demos by the government and industry experts showed how the challenges of urbanisation could be tackled by deploying smarter ways of management, creating transformational strategies and yet maximising environmental sustainability efforts. Companies, like Dell, Schneider Electric, Vodafone, Oracle, Chhattisgarh infotech Promotion Society (CHiPS), Agile Labs, ESDS, Safenet, NetCore, CA Technologies, BlueCoat, Websense, Polycom, Fortinet, Trend micro, CheckPoint, Uttar Pradesh Electronics Corporation Limited, Epson and ZyXEL were some of the key participants, including the riveting panel discussions that challenged established wisdom and often went against the fond beliefs of the participants, pointing out the challenges this revolution was likely to face.
It concluded with a set of prestigious awards selected from 200 entries by the Express Group with the help of knowledge partner PricewaterhouseCoopers.