Smart cities when done right can become one of the crowning spotlights of the 21st century. It is already elevating the living standards of people in countless cities by making their lives easier, fulfilling and more secure through previously undreamt-of services enabled by technology. While the potential is immense, the developmental approach of these cities requires a departure from conventional methods to speed up the delayed development cycles.
Rapid urban population expansion, growing citizen expectations, energy efficiency, globalisation and sustainability demands are factors putting immense pressure on smart city projects. However, the current rate of progress is inadequate to sustain the growth and demands of the future. In India, smart cities require an overarching strategy of good governance combined with a coherent policy approach emphasising on a strong safety, quality of life and improvements in the institutional, social, and physical-economic framework.
Embracing a City-Specific Development Strategy
With a diversity of geographic and climate-based versatility of the Indian sub-continent, developers face numerous hurdles that are unique to particular regions and cities. Coastal cities face challenges of extreme humidity, rain and natural disasters while other in-land cities might face extreme heating issues, this alters the entire approach to build, sustain and maintain structures.
Hence, India urgently needs to adopt smarter and advanced city management and planning techniques to accustom to these changes in terrains and deliver amenities such as water supply, waste management, transport, health and education in the most optimal way.
Addressing the Growing Talent Gap
The unique city-specific strategies can be successfully advanced if the engineering and construction enterprises have the requisite capacities and talent to adopt the radical change in times and technologies and deliver accordingly. However, there is a severe shortage of professionals with the required skills for these tasks and the gap is increasing rapidly. The need for fostering talent capacities is further aggravated with the government’s new thrust on implementing reforms in the urban sector and to effectively cater to the massive planned public and private sector infrastructure.
Implementing New-Age Infrastructure Technology In The Development Phase
Capitalising on a syndicate of digital innovations like mobile, social, analytics, cloud, IoT, blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), AR and VR technologies in the construction phase will positively impact productivity and facilitate timely project completion. Leveraging real-time information from sites, machines and workers helps to optimize the working and reduce wastage.
With the help of state-of-the-art enterprise solutions, companies can source and manage all the information and functions from a single database. This will enable them to reduce the overall implementation cycle time and ensure quicker ROI. Another crucial technology for building smart cities is 5D Building Information Modelling (BIM) for estimators and surveyors. With 5D BIM, it is possible to know in advance about collisions between architectural, design, plumbing and electrical blueprints that are difficult to detect in 2-Dimensional blueprints. This results in building a better-integrated environment in the entire smart city site. It also enables developers to cater to various smart city requirements more effectively, concluding in better design, performance and quality outcomes.
With India adding more vigour to its policies and intent, smart cities are gaining more momentum. Both the public and private sectors are evolving their brand of smart cities accordingly. They aspire to offer a perfect fusion of functional systems like infrastructure, governance, biodiversity, citizen services system and many more services propelled by intelligent technologies to make life easier and better. However, we need to address the talent and infrastructure gap created through rapid urbanisation and employ better practices in the development phase to save cost and improve productivity on sites.
The author is Ashok Wani, Head – Technology & Innovation, Highbar Technocrat