Ever since information technology and computer devices have entered our lives, the word ‘smart’ has become the most fashionable prefix. More specifically, in the area of public governance, governments have been using ‘smart governance’, in the place of ‘e-governance’, as the new ‘mantra’ for improving service delivery.
In fact, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission in 2008, spoke about SMART governance, referring to SMART as an acronym for simple, moral, accountable, responsive and transparent government. The underlying driver for SMART governance is information technology. In management terminology, SMART is an acronym which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Taking an overall view, the basic idea is to ensure that efficiency is enhanced by using modern information technology.
Nearly 30 per cent of Indian population lives in cities and towns. Urban areas are an assembly of a complex web of public administration, local governance and management systems. One need not emphasise the problems that city dwellers face today on account of the orthodox ways in which these have been addressed in the past for historical reasons. Today, however, ‘smart’ governance systems hold a promise of hope. It is widely speculated that with the introduction of modern IT driven systems, we can greatly reduce our problems and bring about greater efficiency.
In fact, efficiency is believed to be the key take away in smart cities. According to one scholar, “A city can be defined as ‘smart’ when investments in human and social capital and traditional (transport) and modern communication infrastructure fuel sustainable economic development and a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources, through participatory action and engagement.”. While this may be a very general and academic definition, the underlying idea is the usage of ICT technologies to solve urban problems.
COMPONENTS OF A SMART CITY
Smart Infrastructure: One of the key things that our cities lack is smart inclusive infrastructure. Providing smart infrastructure in terms of roads, cycle tracks, pedestrian pathways, public toilets, water and sewer networks, street lighting networks, signal systems, gas supply systems, solid waste management systems, drainage networks, safety and security devices, etc. are all very important for efficient, healthy, safe and sustainable urban living. In all these, IT plays a role no doubt, but more importantly, good town planning, public health engineering, architecture and civic design are essential ingredients. The role of IT comes only as a support to the core activity, that too