The prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras on Thursday coordinated an international project on PM Narendra Modi’s ‘Smart Cities’ mission with leading Indian and European Technical Higher Education Institutions. IIT Madras has taken this initiative as part of the Heritage Network, an Indo-European network of twenty leading Technical Higher Education Institutions. They collaborate on research and academic activities that address common priorities of national interest and well-being of society. The network aims to achieve these goals by identifying partner institution/s in the network and undertake joint research projects, academic and research exchanges, industry partnerships.
This project is also in tune with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of having smart cities in India. After the addition of nine more cities in the Modi’s list of smart cities in India, the tally now stands at 99. The nine cities that were newly added were Erode (Tamil Nadu), Bihar Sharif (Bihar), Silvassa (Dadra and Nagar Haveli), Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), Kavaratti (Lakshadweep), Diu (Daman and Diu), Moradabad, Bareilly and Saharanpur. Adding to the Centre’s Smart Cities project, as much as Rs 9,940 crore has been sanctioned to the states until now for the Smart Cities Mission. Maharashtra got the maximum sum with the amount rising up to Rs 1,378 crore, followed by Madhya Pradesh which got Rs 984 crore as per a government data.
In IIT Madras, a ‘Smartcity working group’ was formed during the 2nd General Assembly Meeting of Heritage Network on February 6 & 7, 2018. Representatives of European and Indian partner institutes participated in the meeting to formulate a workable action plan for the Heritage Network consortium. During this meeting, IIT Madras and IIT Kanpur were chosen as Indian Coordinators to coordinate the activities and action plans on Smart Cities with Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) and KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm being selected as the European coordinators.
Speaking about the project, Prof R. Nagarajan, Dean (International and Alumni Relations), IIT Madras, said, “IIT Madras greatly values partnerships with leading academic institutions and industry around the world. Networks such as this provide us with an opportunity to collaborate simultaneously with several global institutions on topics of current relevance to society.” Prof Fouad Bennis, President of Heritage Network and Director for International Relations, Ecole Centrale de Nantes, France, Mr. Raj Cherubal, CEO of the Chennai Smart City Mission, and Dr. Ashwin Mahalingam, Associate Professor, Building Technology and Construction Management Division, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Madras, delivered addresses on Day One of the 2nd General Assembly meeting.
A brainstorming session was held with subject matter experts from the Heritage Network member institutions who are working on Smartcity-related subfields during the 2nd General Assembly meeting. The Smartcity working group has decided to have a few intermediate follow-up meetings before the next annual GA meeting in 2019 and a dedicated workshop on Smartcity to evaluate the progress of the working group during the next annual GA meeting in 2019.
The meeting also kickstarted the Heritage Network Workshop Series. The idea is to conduct a thematic workshop along with the annual GA meetings each year, on topics/areas of mutual interest/importance to both Europe and India. Various aspects such as exchange programs, research cooperation, industry participation, funding channels, policy engagement and outreach activities were discussed to draft a roadmap for the Heritage Network.
Potential short-term, mid-term and long-term action plans were identified in terms of educational programs/ exchange possibilities, research collaboration, industrial involvement and joint-funding opportunities between Indian and European partner institutions. In addition to the existing partners, four more institutes, two each from India (IIT Dhanbad and IIT Roorkee) and Europe (UPM, Madrid and KTH, Sweden), became members of the Heritage Network through a formal voting procedure.