Building a smart city

Written by Sudhir Chowdhary | Updated: Oct 20 2014, 06:40am hrs
India has a population of 1.27 billion plus, and growing. There are no two views about the fact that urban chaos prevails in most big Indian cities, with haphazard development and lack of proper planning. A number of major cities are already facing infrastructural, managerial and environmental problems. The future scenario might look scary but it is estimated that by 2030, about 600 million people will be residing in cities in India. This is primarily due to the steady and ongoing migration of people from rural to urban areas where economic growth and employment opportunities are higher. New Delhi has already become the worlds second most populous city in 2014 after Tokyo, more than doubling its population since 1990 to 25 million. Needless to say, the existing urban cities would soon be crunched on resources and infrastructure and the quality of life of people is bound to decline due to non-availability of adequate planning.

To accommodate rapid urbanisation, the Central government has allocated R7,060 crore in fiscal year 2014-15 to build 100 new smart cities and to develop satellite towns around existing cities. While the theme of smart cities has been widely discoursed over the course of the last couple of months, the good news is that Prime Minister Narendra Modis vision for smart cities has begun to take shape with the ministry of urban development identifying new and existing locations that will soon be remodeled smart. An agreement has already been inked with Japan to transform Varanasi into a smart heritage city based on the Kyoto model.

The smart cities initiative has garnered the maximum attention from the IT sector as this project will rely heavily on information and communications technology (ICT). From centralised control system which provide real-time inputs on availability of water, electricity, healthcare and education to effective management of traffic, weather prediction, pollution control, disaster management and emergency responsetechnology will be an enabler for all smart cities. In fact, IT consulting firm IDC expects a minimum of R2,000 crore flowing into the technology sector on the back of this initiative.

How do you build a new smart city What will be the strategies and technologies deployed to overcome an existing citys major challenges such as congestion, pollution, crime, aging infrastructure, falling budgets and many other issues, in order to get a smart tag What will the cities infrastructure look like in 10 years It goes without saying that the governments ambition for modernising mid-sized cities will require precision planning, effective disbursement of budgetary funds and a large investment in infrastructure. It is very critical that our urban planners and policymakers need to plan and

design cities for the future and not just for the present, says Sunil MK, head, Architecture, Engineering &

Construction (AEC) division, India and SAARC, Autodesk.

Putting IT to work

Technology will play a crucial role in building smart cities and Khed city, situated near Pune on the Mumbai-Goa highway, provides a glimpse into how

innovative technology will be used in enabling modern development with world-class sustainable transport,

water, electricity and transportation links. A joint venture between Kalyani Group, Bharat Forge and Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), Khed city is envisioned as a world-class community for scientific innovation and good quality of life. The city, being developed in two phases, has been initiated within the framework of the guidelines of SEZ development

under a public private partnership.

Khed is envisioned to occupy about 5,400 hectares in all. This area includes a special economic zone (SEZ) that will cater exclusive to export-oriented industries, a domestic tariff area integrated industrial area including the residential, commercial and support services areas alongside land demarcated for rehabilitation and resettlement of project affected community. Located approximately 2,100 feet above sea level, at the intersection between the Western Ghats and the Deccan Plateau, the site is predominantly on higher ground with an incredible view of the valley.

However, the undulating and rugged topography in many areas of the region makes it difficult and expensive to develop. The biggest challenge was to visualise the city with multiple design options and data from various sources that would help stakeholders take accurate decisions as per budgetary and technical guidelines, reveals Sunil of Autodesk. To develop such a stretch of land, it was necessary to take aid of sophisticated technology, which would reduce the

effort and time consumed in mapping.

Kalyani Group adopted Autodesk intelligent 3D model-based design software Infrastructure Design Suite Ultimatewhich allowed the planning and construction team to manage and integrate separate data types. With direct data access, transformation and export capabilities provided ease of use and a wide range of possibilities. To illustrate, the challenging topography of the project area resulted in very high level of land grading, which would have witnessed spiraling cost at the start of the project itself, had it not been for

accurate planning using 3D design

software and modeling.

Approach and connectivity to the elevated land, that rises above the surrounding agricultural region, was an additional issue since road and water cannot be moved up-hill without proper planning and support infrastructure. Thanks to building information modelling (BIM) solutions complex jobs like grading, road design, utility design, clash detection and early visualisations were done with relative ease and efficiency. Kalyani Group saved 7% of their construction cost by using BIM for the project of the first ever BIM city in

India, says Sunil.

As in the case of telecommunications, India has a chance to leapfrog the use of the right information and communications technology in planning and executing on the smart cities vision. Implemented in the right manner, the smart cities infrastructure will be dynamic, intelligent and focused to drive smart living and smart governance.


A smart city comprises of technologies that promote the following aspects:

*Smart governance: Solutions that would help in efficient government services such as e-government portal service, e-learning project, e-passport

*Smart energy: Solutions that will provide electricity to all households and commercial buildings to ensure that there is no power down time

*Smart environment: Technologies that will enable renewal of energy, waste water management and provide proper sanitation to citizens

*Smart transportation: These solutions collaborate to offer streamlined transportation in order to optimise traffic flow and increase connectivity

*Smart IT & communications: Vast communication and sensor networks across cities enable law enforcement and other agencies related to citizen safety to gather data, interpret them and react effectively

*Smart buildings: Solutions are required to build intelligent building management systems, which will help save up to 30% of water usage, 40% of energy usage and reduction of building maintenance costs by 10 to 30%