Information technology (IT) is central to enabling change for developing smart cities. Hence, it is vital to have a relevant IT architecture in place, which can be replicated over the country, said J Satyanarayana, advisor (eGovernance, electronics and IT), government of Andhra Pradesh, at the 17th Edition of ‘Express Technology Sabha’, organised by the Indian Express Group. The theme of the event, which was kicked off here on Thursday, was ‘Achieving the vision of Digital India’.
During the inauguration, The Indian Express Group, along with PwC India, launched a report ‘How smart are our cities?’ Smart cities typically leverage technology and utilise existing and planned infrastructure to provide a better quality of life, positive business climate, optimum resource utilisation and transparency in governance, he said.
“The IT architecture needs to have several dimensions in different segments such as road, transportation, logistics and many sectoral hubs that can create employment as well,” Satyanarayana said in an exclusive conversation with Isher Judge Ahluwalia, chairperson, board of governors, The Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) and Subhomoy Bhattacharjee, deputy editor, The Indian Express.
“Governments have to build a public-private partnership (PPP) model for creating the smart city project. IT is a powerful tool to leapfrog with rising income and rising expenses,” Ahluwalia said. She said financial viability was the key to success of the project. Given urbanisation challenges, governments must explore smarter ways of management, create strategies for smart city transformation, maximise environmental sustainability efforts and create new citizen services. So, state governments will have to play a major role, Ahluwalia added.
Further, Digital India, the umbrella programme covering many government departments, aims to ensure that people in all parts of the country can access a range of government services electronically. The initiative seeks to connect rural areas through high-speed internet networks and ensure digital literacy for all.
The core components of the Digital India initiative are: creation of digital infrastructure, delivery of services digitally and digital literacy. The eGovernance initiatives that will be launched under the programme will lead to much-needed transparency, the cornerstone of the e-inclusive governance framework. There will be a rise in the number and scope of citizen-centric e-services and every section of society will have online access to a range of essential services.
The objective of the ‘How smart are our cities?’ report is to make a competitive assessment of the existing infrastructure and various social factors for creating smart cities and evaluate areas where greenfield smart cities can come up. The government has taken up a progressive plan to transform its existing cities and has plans to develop 100 smart cities. The ministry of urban development has drafted a concept note that defines the type of cities that will be eligible for selection.