The Government of India’s plan of building Smart Cities has gained a lot of attention from the citizens of the country and from media across the globe. The government’s mission is to develop 100 cities, in phases, to make them Smart Cities. The plan is to do it in two ways, by making towns as satellite towns of larger cities and by modernizing existing small and mid-sized cities. The cities were chosen by the State and the Union Territories. Of the list of 100 towns and cities, 20 cities are chosen for the smart city project by the Government of India. This sounds really exciting and progressive; however, the government will have to overcome a lot of challenges in implementing Smart Cities across the country. It would cost the government dearly if they overlook these challenges during the planning phase of this large project. This list of three Smart Cities examples and application can help you in understanding more about this topic.
Here is a list of seven challenges the government should factor in while planning to implement Smart Cities in India. These challenges will be faced by all the governments around the world.
Challenges in Developing and Implementing Smart Cities
1. Channeling Finance to the Smart Cities
The estimated Per Capita Investment Cost (PCIC) is Rs. 43,386 as reported by the High Power Expert Committee (HPEC). The total estimate of investment in smart city totals up to 7 lakh crore within a span of 20 years and an annual requirement of Rs. 35,000 crore, assuming the population as 1 million people in each smart city. Mobilizing such huge finance is a challenge for any government. The Government can look for Public Private Partnership in order to gather funds via Viability Gap Funding. In other words, the government will contribute, let’s say, 20 percent of the investment and the remaining is invested by the state government and other private bodies.
2. Quick Approval And Clearance
It is a given that it takes a great deal of time to get approval and clearance from any government institution. This has to be changed while developing smart cities with Big Data and IoT. The project is time bound and all clearances and approvals must be granted with minimum time so that the project sticks to the schedule. The state government should also co-operate in this case and speed up the approval process. If needed, entire approval processes can be automated and made online. A board can be set up to manage approvals for services like water, sewage, draining systems, telecommunication lines, electrical lines, etc.
3. Co-Ordination Among Multiple Stakeholders
This clearly is a challenge that the central government will face while implementing smart cities. The state government, private sector, the central government, and other regulatory bodies are stakeholders in the project. It is very important that all the stakeholders are aligned and are aware of their roles and responsibilities. There should be no room for conflicts in segregation of duties. The involvement of multiple stakeholders in the project adds to the complexity due to the difference in ways of working.
4. Retrofitting Existing Cities
Retrofitting essentially means adding features to the existing set up to make it more efficient. One of the plans of the central government is to convert existing small and big city to a smart city. The challenge lies in studying the master plan of the city which is not available for more than 80 percent of the cities. So the central government is left with an inadequate input to start with.
5. Human Resource
In this context, human resource means the workers and staff required to implement the project. There is a huge need of skilled workers and professionals. It is not an easy task to build 100 smart cities (some cities need to be built from the scratch). It is important that adequate training programs are conducted for the workers employed in this project. The challenge is that only five percent of the entire budget is allotted for training and upskilling. So there is a lot to do with less resource, which is a challenge.
6. Availability of Utility Services
Smart cities need uninterrupted access to electricity and water. Considering the power generation and distribution systems in the existing states and union territories, this seems to be a challenge in meeting the growing energy demands. States must resort to non-conventional energy resources to meet the energy shortage.
7. Current state of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs)
ULBs are not financially self-sustaining. Low tariff and inadequate cost recovery are the reasons for ULBs not being self-sustainable. Furthermore, the human resource capability of ULBs is also not adequate which calls for an additional training program to equip the workers and laborers. This means the extra allocation of budget in training and capacity building, which is a challenge.
The fact of the matter is, the Government must factor in above challenges and look for a smart way to overcome these challenges for this project to be successful. Implementing Smart Cities is a prestigious project of the Government of India. It is a very important milestone to achieve for the existing government as this was one of the major promises made by the Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. The future of urbanization in India lies in the success of this project.
About the Author
This post by Yash Mehta first appeared on his blog IoT Worm. Yash Mehta is a Data Science expert and has three years of writing experience in this field. He is an IoT geek and sole owner of Iotworm blog. You can read more about him from yashmehta.net.